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 when 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, you go through an old walkway between by an old warehouse and end up walking through Pleasant Valley Ct., an old development of little bungalows. The walk continues into Piedmont and beautiful Dracaena park which part of was once an old rock quarry. Groves of beautiful trees surround the park and it’s 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. Much of the Piedmont neighborhoods have rose colored sidewalk with exposed aggregate where sidewalks were bevelled to maintain a smooth 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 need 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 nice 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 check this area of the Bay Area. My knee has been causing me trouble from Aikido training so it limited my distance and there was a free concert in the park (Neil Diamond cover band!) near the start of my planned walk. I ended up just hanging out and watching the band and the tipsy 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 in 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 from the urban scene of Oakland. Nestled in the coast redwoods below Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley has many nice shops, book stores and restaurants in it’s town center.

Before starting my hike, I like to get some lunch from the excellent Mill Valley Market. The deli department has a great selection 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. From hear I can review 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.  You proceed along a wooded lane where you’ll see some nice, secluded houses until you get back down to town at Throckmorton Avenue. You then cross the street then start to head up the opposing hill through a network of small streets and stairways. Eventually you get to Corte Madera Creek which you follow up further into the woods.

Approaching a Japanese style gate I was approached by a friendly bulldog sentry. He kept me company for a bit as continued to walk along a bit further than map in the guide book directed (oops). Eventually I crossed the creek where Corte Madera meets W. Blithedale Ave. I 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 nice sites and a fun narrow region with some foot holds right by the waters edge.


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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 at Haas School of Business and before Memorial Stadium, I crossed the street to visit International House which has a large coffee shop. Since the fog was making this a kind of cool walk, I decided to shorten the walk by heading back down Bancroft to return to downtown Berkeley.


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 proceeded up Euclid to the famous Rose Walk with it’s Maybeck designed entrance and cloistered 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 possibly 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 even 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.

Trader Joe’s Dumps Clover

The Dude gets his Half & Half

Update 5/14/16:
As of early May 2016, it looks like the good stuff from Clover is back! Probably just an inventory adjustment or they read my post and changed their mind.

Looks like my favorite, Clover produced Half & Half and Heavy Whipping Cream is disappearing from shelves of Bay Area Trader Joe’s stores. For years this was my favorite place to buy these products. The cream from Clover’s Northern California is superior to many other producers. Products labeled as Trader Joe’s Heavy Whipping Cream and Organic Whipping Cream (from Clover plant 06-691) are currently being replaced by Rockview (plant 06-98), a Southern California product that is nowhere near as good. The heavy cream is slightly thicker in consistency but virtually tasteless. Reminds me of some other Ultra Pasteurized products, where the flavor is virtually cooked out of it. Clover’s had a clearly superior ‘cream’ taste – the difference is like night and day! What’s also unfortunate is that these products now have to be shipped all the way up from Los Angeles instead of nearby Marin County.

Love Them Chandeliers!

I’ve noticed the chandelier motif is very popular – similar to the baroque style wallpaper backgrounds you see everywhere in the design world.

Here’s three recent samples I’ve seen right here in the SF Bay Area.

Citizen Space – a co-work space I’ve used in the South Park area of SOMA.
Citzen Space SF

Beauty parlor in Berkeley’s 4th St. shopping district.Bare Escentuals

And last, but not least, Pesto Bar Café  in Sebastapol. (I’m trying to dig up a photo of their chandelier featured sign.


I participated and rode my bike around the streets Oakland – what a blast! Maybe this should become a permanent Sunday event? Downtown Oakland is mostly a ghost town on the weekend anyway.