Monday, February 2, 2015

Redwood Regional Park, Oakland

One of my favorite parts about writing this blog has been the gentle nudge it has given our family to get out and start experiencing new things. It has encouraged us to take a trip that we have done a dozen times (such as Tilden's Little Farm) and tweak it to include a nearby hike. Or to explore somewhere that is so close to home it is practically in our backyard, yet we have never bothered to take the detour. This past weekend was the perfect example of taking the time to explore a park that I have lived within 10 miles of for the past 7 years, and never made the stop.

The Redwood Regional Park sits in the Oakland Hills and covers more than 1800 acres of protected open space. There are a number of entrances to the park, but we chose the Skyline Gate located in the hills behind Montclair Village. From the parking lot we took the West Ridge Trail, then made a left on the French Trail, another left at the Tres Sendas Trail and then the last left onto the Stream Trail, which gave us a nice wide path to hike our way back out of the canyon (click here for our route map).

Map of the Park. Skyline Gate is far left corner of the park.
West Ridge Trail
Heading down the French Trail. This is the steepest part of the hike, but our kids had a blast climbing over the tree roots and rocks in the path.

Views from the French Trail
When you reach the intersection of the French Trail and the Tres Sendas trail, you begin your descent into the middle of a Redwood Forest. This was my favorite part of the hike and left both my husband and I in awe that we could be standing in the middle of this beautiful redwood forest, just miles from our home. There was a small creek that the kids enjoyed stomping through, as well as lots of large redwoods that had fallen, making for very exciting balance beams!

The walk back out of the canyon was definitely a steady incline, but it wasn't horrible. Our 3.5 year old did most of the walk herself (the 1.5 year old...not so much). And about half way up, the kids stopped for an impromptu dance-off. Not sure why this happened, but it was pretty hilarious.

There may have been a slight bribery in the form of chocolate to get our 3 year old to make the hike out of the canyon on her own, so our next stop was Casa de Chocolates in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley. One of our favorite treats in the Elmwood/Rockridge stretch of College Avenue is the Frozen Mexican Hot Chocolate at Casa de Chocolates. It's a combination of organic milk and cream with cacao, cinnamon, sugar and cocoa powder (and a steal at $4!).

If you are looking for more to do in the area, there are some great restaurants and local boutiques along College Avenue.

What are some of your favorite hikes in the East Bay?

The details/facts: The Redwood Regional Park is about 5 miles from Berkeley (20 min drive) and is free! The hike we did was about 2 miles roundtrip, and took about 2 hours with the kids. There are a number of paths that also allow dogs off leash if you are a dog owner/lover. The shops along College Avenue are densest in the 1 mile stretch between Russell st (in Elmwood) and Manila St. (in Rockridge). It's about a mile long, so an easy enough walk with lots of places to stop along the way.

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