As written for The Urbanist, a SPUR publication (#8 in the list)
Oakland’s Urban Gateway to the Redwoods and Beyond
In 2007, after opening a new location of La Farine Bakery in Oakland’s Dimond District, I moved into the neighborhood. With I-580, a major AC Transit bus transfer hub, and an easy connection to BART just a block away, I quickly learned how accessible my new community was. But soon, I realized even grander access – Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood connects through parkland to the Bay Area Ridge Trail and over 500 miles of trails that span the entire East Bay.
Dimond Park, at only 200 feet elevation, was at the end of my street and just two blocks from the bakery. Tucked between the Dimond, Glenview, and Oakmore neighborhoods, it is comprised of 14 acres of urban park including playgrounds, picnic areas, grassy fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and an active recreation center. Its paved paths wind through the park amenities, along Sausal Creek, and through towering redwoods and majestic oaks.
El Centro trailhead in Dimond Canyon Park
At the top of Dimond Park, crossing sleepy El Centro Ave, you’ll enter Dimond Canyon Park. You may have noticed this wooded canyon below the top stretch of Park Blvd, but what you may not know is that it’s home to ninety acres of gorgeous wildland park and trails. Dimond Canyon, Old Cañon, and Bridgeview Trails connect and wind through the oak, laurel, and redwood forests along Sausal Creek. At the top, almost two miles from Dimond Park, you’ll reach Monterey Blvd, where a pedestrian tunnel under Hwy 13 invites you to enter Joaquin Miller Park.
Palos Colorados Trail in Joaquin Miller Park
At the Palos Colorados trailhead, the lowest entrance to Joaquin Miller Park, you’ll experience one of the Bay Area’s most beautiful trails. The thick canopy and year-round creek make you soon forget you’re in the middle of a city. Bringing you to the heart of Joaquin Miller Park’s 550 acres and expansive trail system, you’re now connected to the Piedmont Pines, Woodminster, and Joaquin Miller neighborhoods, with the opportunity to choose from a dozen different routes that connect to the Bay Area Ridge Trail. While some areas of Joaquin Miller Park are developed – it’s home to a Ranger Station, Community Center, picnic areas, fenced dog runs, and the historic Woodminster Theater – most of Joaquin Miller Park is natural and wooded, with an exceptionally well-maintained trail system, thanks to collaborations between the City of Oakland and volunteers. You’ll find redwood groves, chaparral, year-round streams, and expansive views of the entire Bay Area.
Junction atop lower Palos Colorados Trail in Joaquin Miller Park
Crossing Oakland’s Skyline Blvd at more than 1500 feet elevation and almost five miles from Dimond Park, you’ll reach Redwood Regional Park and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. You now once again have many options: take the 339 bus line from Chabot Space & Science Center (just a ten-minute ride) back to Dimond, loop around for a round-trip hike of nine miles that will bring you back down the hill, or keep going towards Tilden Park, Moraga, San Ramon, or Hayward…the list goes on.
Sunset Trail in Joaquin Miller Park
This urban connection to the East Bay’s vast network of parks, trails, and open space is incredible. You literally could hike for days and days, and never touch the same piece of ground twice.
Stan Dodson, Oakland resident and manager of La Farine Bakery in Oakland’s Dimond District, has worked as a volunteer to promote and maintain Oakland’s wildland trails since 2008. Learn more at OaklandTrails.org
Trail map courtesy of Friends of Sausal Creek