Monday, October 28, 2013

Parks: Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve

Tucked behind the colossal Claremont Hotel and Spa in Berkeley is Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. I have Mondays off work, but was surprised how many walkers and joggers I met on trail here. The fire trails were wide and badly eroded in places. One might guess it's from all the dogs off leash here.

Most of the hike was moderately steep -- the loose dirt and rocks in places made descent a serious quad and balance workout. I found that near-squatting with arms free to balance saved my descent. But the appropriately named Stonewall-Panoramic trail, which connects paved streets of those names, offers great views. The first segment from Stonewall Rd might even be wheelchair accessible, but it gets too rutted after that.

A disadvantage of recreating on a weekday is construction crews are active: a road maintenance crew filled the clean air with heavy machinery rumbles and car honks for hours. I found it odd it sounded like the same car horn sounding erratically. Still, I heard a scrub jay mimicking a hawk and numerous other birds I didn't recognize.

Most of the trail was vegetated by low shrubs with an exceptional collection of conifers including pines. The wind whirred through their leaves. I came upon the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, and further up the hill a flattened, mulched staging area with a steady breeze that seemed to originate at the Golden Gate. I wondered at the chill Pacific wind that defines so much of our climate here. Today's high didn't break 60 F, and I was alternating sweating with freezing in my sweat.

I managed to make it to a trailhead at Tilden within 2 hours. Just after I turned around, a jet plane whistled overhead and a pack of coyotes roused into a chorus of cackling and whining cries. I would not let my dog off leash here.

This could be a better day hike -- I spotted a few smaller trails that allow the intimate experience of wild lands I prefer, and Tilden is better wooded. Alas, if you're planning a visit, this trailhead will be closed for hazardous tree removal for a few weeks.

Biking: easy access from Russel St and Claremont Ave. Claremont peters out north of Russel but beware of getting doored from a parked car. 

Walking: same intersection is accessible by public transportation, just walk along Claremont to Stonewall Rd and the trailhead.

Is there a park nearby you've wanted to check out? I'll take your suggestions in the comments.


  1. I've taken this hike scores of times. I'm impressed by your precise descriptions.

  2. Thanks for the compliment. Feel free to share photos and suggestions for other parks to check out!