Editor’s note: Lauren, one of our ‘interns extraordinaire’ for the summer, is an East Bay local and a wealth of knowledge on local open spaces. We asked her to share some of her favorite spots to cool off in during the summer with a Leave No Trace framework.
With school out and the Fourth of July already passed, summer is officially here! The East Bay is a remarkable place to explore nature and cool off in on these long sunny days, especially with access to shady creeks, redwood forests, and the occasional swimming spot. As much as these outdoor spaces can be wonderful spaces for people, it is worth remembering they are also fragile ecosystems disrupted easily by our recreational activities.
Riparian ecosystems surrounding creeks are subject to erosion from both people and dogs scrambling into the creek and around their banks. While some erosion occurs naturally, the bank erosion from people and dogs brings sediment into the creek creating muddy water that is not healthy for aquatic life. Dog waste left on the ground, especially if close to a creek can be harmful when it gets into the water, carrying with it harmful bacteria and parasites, depleting oxygen levels and promoting algae growth. Litter from picnics and parties can be left behind to pollute the forests and creeks.
However, with common sense and enthusiasm, our open spaces and watersheds are amazing resources to explore, and cool off in this summer!
The Stream Trail in Redwood Regional Parks in Oakland follows Redwood Creek and is shaded by some of the best redwoods in the East Bay. Picnic sites and playgrounds dot the first mile from the Canyon Meadow Staging Area providing the space for leisurely afternoon hang outs, and steep trails up the canyon wall, such as Chown Trail or up to French Trail offer rigorous hikes while staying in the cool redwood shade. While there is no creek access, walking next to the creek is still a delight.
Alvarado Park in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in Richmond offers some of the best creek access in the area. With picnic tables, a playground, a gazebo, and a starting off point for a few hiking trails, this is a great place to stay for an afternoon. Cool and shady in the warm sun, kids (and adults!) can explore Wildcat Creek, although dogs must remain on leash and care should be taken to prevent erosion.
Dimond Park in Oakland also has a few places with great creek access to Sausal Creek right in the middle of residential neighborhoods. It features playgrounds, a swimming pool, shaded picnic tables, and a shady trail through Dimond Canyon. Adventurers can follow the Old Cañon Trail through the creek bed to Bridgeview Trail all the way to Palos Colorados Trail that shadily winds it’s way up into the hills next to Palo Secco Creek and into the redwoods. While many people walk their dogs here, keep them on leash and pick up waste to prevent erosion and pollution.
If the day is particularly hot, consider swimming and picnicking at Lake Anza in Tilden Regional Park. Another option is to take a short hike up Wildcat Creek Gorge which follows the creek on both sides of the lake and is shady, unlike many of the other hot dusty trails in the surrounding areas. The swim area has lifeguards and both grass and sand to stretch out on.
Roberts Pool in Roberts Regional Recreation Area in Oakland is situated near the redwoods and allows for swimming, redwood shaded picnic areas, a playground, fields, and easy access to shady hikes such as Graham Trail and Big Trees Trail in adjacent Joaquin Miller Park. Although there are no creeks nearby, a pool close to redwoods is a great summer destination, and a great way to prevent creek erosion!
Happy summer, and stay cool!
Stream Trail Image: http://www.redwoodhikes.com/EastBay/RedwoodRP.html
Alvarado Park Image: http://www.ashbyvillage.org/content.aspx?page_id=87&club_id=748044&item_id=516185
Lake Anza Image: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/995939/lake-anza-at-tilden-park
Roberts Pool Image: http://www.eblifeguard.org/swimlessons/medialinks/image001%20resize.jpg
Dimond Park Image: http://oaklandtrails.org/2016/03/