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Below the Cemetery

Location: Neighborhood bordering the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland & Piedmont, CA
Source: Oakland/Piedmont Way of Trees walk, from the book, Hidden Walks in the East Bay & Marin by Stephen Altschuler.
Features: Tree lined streets, Pleasant Valley Ct., hidden shortcuts and beautiful Dracaena Quarry Park.

This walk covers an area I often drive by while traveling to either Piedmont or Mountain View Cemetery. I didn’t realize the hidden gems of the area; especially Dracena Park, which is another stellar, well maintained park in the town of Piedmont.

Starting just below the entrance gate to Mountain View Cemetery, go through an old walkway by an old warehouse and you end up walking through Pleasant Valley Ct., which is an old development of small bungalows. The walk continues into Piedmont and beautiful Dracaena park which part of a flourishing  rock quarry. Groves of beautiful trees surround the park and its lush lawns. Fancy kids play areas with a slide and climbing rock. The park has several access points to surrounding neighborhoods and has a great dog trail and bridge in it’s north end.  I noticed that many  Piedmont’s  neighborhoods have rose colored sidewalks. Some have exposed aggregate where public works crews ground them down to a smooth bevel in order to maintain a smooth walking path.

Dracena Park in Piedmont

View from a bench at Dracena Quarry Park
View from a bench at Dracena Quarry Park

Northern border of Dracena park

Fancy rock wall for kids


Location: Kensington in the Berkeley Hills, Solano County, CA
Source: Below the Hayward Fault walk, from the book, Hidden Walks in the East Bay & Marin by Stephen Altschuler.
Features: Central village district with cafes, market, wine/cheese shop and hardware store. Hidden pathways through hilly residential area. Great views of the San Francisco Bay.

With current knee issues, I needed a short walk and the Kensington walk from Hidden Walks books filled the bill. Besides, I’m curious about this tiny, unincorporated village in the East Bay Hills.

Starting just below the central ‘village’ of the town, you wind through some nice hidden paths where you can get some beautiful views and see some interesting pine trees.

Kensginton downtown
Center of Kensington

Close to the Hayward fault. Most of the walkways have cracks.

Lot of interesting pine trees are along the route.

Great views of the bay

Belvedere – Tiburon

Location: Belvedere & Tiburon in the North Bay of San Francisco Bay, Marin County, CA
Source: Belvedere Means “Beautiful View” walk, from the book, Hidden Walks in the East Bay & Marin by Stephen Altschuler.
Features: Downtown Tiburon, Belvedere Shopping area. boats, water and bay views.

Well, I picked a good day to hike Belvedere and Tiburon, as there was a free concert (Neil Diamond cover band!) near the start of my planned walk. Before beginning the walk, I relaxed in the park to watch the band, Crackling Rosie and the tipsy, dancing audience.

Pampered guinea pig gets to party in the park

Neil Diamond cover band in the park - Belvedere Park
Crackling Rosie in Belvedere Park

Mill Valley Lanes

Location: Mill Valley, Marin County, CA
Source:  Mill Valley Lanes walk, from the book, Hidden Walks in the East Bay & Marin by Stephen Altschuler.
Features: Roads and steps above and around the village of Mill Valley and along the Corte Madera Creek.

The village of Mill Valley is one of my favorite places to unwind and relax away from the urban scene of Oakland. Nestled in the coast redwoods below Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley has many nice shops, book stores and restaurants nestled in it’s town center.

Before starting my hike, I picked up some lunch from the excellent Mill Valley Market. The deli department has a great selection of dishes at it’s hot table and salad bar–so many choices! Today I got curry vegetables, pork ribs and swedish meatballs. Next stop is to one of the best coffee shops in the entire Bay Area, Equator Coffee. Over an Americano, I can plot my course…

This hike starts just down the street from Equator on Miller Ave. behind the Mill Creek Plaza shops. In the back of the parking lot (if you look carefully) are some wooden stairs that take you up the steep hillside, behind the village. From here you start to get a great view of Mt. Tam and the rest of the village below.  You then proceed along a wooded lane where you’ll see small, secluded houses until you get wind back to town at Throckmorton Avenue. From here, cross the street and head up the opposing hill through a network of small streets and stairways. Eventually you get to Corte Madera Creek which you follow into the shady woods.

Approaching a Japanese style gate I was approached by a friendly bulldog sentry. He kept me company for awhile as I continued to walk a bit further than the directions in the guide book. Eventually I crossed the creek where Corte Madera meets W. Blithedale Ave., then continued down this road until I was back in the village by the Mill Valley Market.

After climbing Miller Ln. steps – great view of Mt. Tamalpais

Brick steps above Madrona Street

Friendly gnomes!

Bayview Avenue

Friendly sentry to Winwood Place


Lake Anza

Location: Lake Anza/Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, CA
Source: Tilden Regional Park: Lake Anza hike from the book, East Bay Trails by David Weintraub.
Features: Loop around Lake Anza, a recreational swimming reservoir in Tilden Regional Park

It was a gorgeous summer day for a relatively short walk around Lake Anza. Starting by the pool entrance area, I started walking on the left side trial which crosses a creek and then circuits the lake. Scrambling over some rocks wasn’t the best thing for my strained knee but there was some beautiful views and a fun narrow section to test your balance right by the waters edge.

Overall, a fun, short hike that is not far from home.


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UC Berkeley Campus South Side Walk – Part 1

Location: UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, CA
Source: The UC Campus Walk from Berkeley Walks by Johnson/Byron
Features: Groves of trees, creek, bridges and many impressive and diverse campus buildings

Started at Center and Shattuck in downtown Berkeley and headed up to the campus passing by a row of casual eating spots.

Pomodoro sculpture

Strawberry Creek

Path near western entrance

Once inside the campus you’ll notice the impressive trees; many large redwoods can be seen. Strawberry creek is crossed over many times by a variety bridges.

Valley Life Sciences Building

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Near the far east side of the campus by Haas School of Business, but before Memorial Stadium, I crossed the street to visit International House and its large coffee shop.

Since the fog was making this a chilly walk, I decided to shorten my trek by   returning to downtown Berkeley via Bancroft Ave.


Codornices Creek Walk

Location: Codornices Creek neighborhood in Berkeley, CA
Source: Berkeley Walks by Johnson/Byron
Features: Codornices Creek, watershed and an urban waterfall.

Nice afternoon to walk a portion of the Codornices Creek Walk from the book, Berkeley Walks. Warm day but the fog could be seen making an appearance over the San Francisco Bay.

Heading up Vine Lane path

Top of Vine Lane path

I shortened the walk by starting on Hawthorne Lane (by Vine) and proceeded up the Vine Lane path. I then walked up Euclid to the famous Rose Walk with it’s Maybeck designed entrance of steps and clustered community of houses. At the end of the Rose Walk, you keep heading straight up into the hill on Shasta Road which bends north (see the gorgeous watershed and Swiss chalet style house at 2645 Shast) and then forks into Keith Ave.

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Watershed above Codornices Creek with Swiss chalet-style house

Shasta Road

Cooling fog coming our way! View from Shasta Road

From Keith Avenue, the Berkeley Walks guide has two optional paths and trails that take you further up into the hill, but I found one of the paths closed with some orange cones due to renovation work.

1185 Keith Avenue by architect John Hudson Thomas
1185 Keith Avenue by architect John Hudson Thomas

Waterfall on Keith Avenue
Waterfall on Keith Avenue

House with turret - 1747 Keith Avenue
House with turret at 1747 Keith Avenue

Since I wanted to shorten the walk a bit, I proceeded down the steep El Mirador Path stairs. Lots of whimsical artifacts like gnomes and a painting dot this path!

Top of El Mirador Path stairs

I then followed Euclid back to the Berkeley Rose Garden and Codornices Creek Park across the street. At the park, you can find the closed off entrance to a tunnel. A curious urban explorer would probably circumvent this fence!  Go through the tunnel which takes you to the an area by the Rose Garden tennis courts. Follow the little path behind the bathroom to bypass  another fence.

Berkeley Rose Garden

Codornices Creek at the Rose Garden

After the Berkeley Rose Garden, I continued on Euclid until I found my way back to the top of Hawthorn Terrace and my starting point.