Monday, January 11, 2016

Ladybug hunting in Redwood Regional Park

Ever since our first trip to Redwood Regional, I have been eager to return. It still blows my mind that we are only a few miles away from this unbelievably beautiful park. While you really don't need an excuse to venture up into the Oakland Hills for a hike, this time of year is particularly special because of the ladybugs that call the park home each winter. Here's a short video of what you can expect to see on your visit. 

In an effort to try out some new trails, we decided to take a slightly different loop than on our first trip and started by heading down the Stream Trail from the main Skyline Staging area. This is a wide and relatively easy path to maneuver (although it can get a bit muddy in parts after heavy rains) and takes you down into the Redwood Groves. The Redwoods do not disappoint and on both trips have left me nearly speechless. The trails are just SO beautiful and despite the parking lot being full on both of our visits, we have often found ourselves to be the only ones on long stretches of the trail (a stark contrast to visiting some of the more popular trails in Muir Woods which are overrun with tourists!). 

The colors in this picture almost look fake to me, but I didn't edit them! This is really what it looks like at the bottom of the canyon.

At the junction of the Stream Trail and Tres Sendes trail, there are some benches to take in the beauty as well as a seasonal stream with large fallen trees for the kids to enjoy. This was as far as we had made it on our last trip, so it was a real treat to continue down along the Stream Trail which, as you may have guessed, runs adjacent to a stream! This portion of the trail is so peaceful it had me making a mental note to return in the spring when there will hopefully be much more water flowing. 

The stream was barely flowing during our X-mas day hike, but hopefully that will change soon!
About a half mile down from the Tres Sendas trail (at the junction of the Stream and Prince Trails) is where all the ladybug action is happening! You will find hundreds, if not thousands, of ladybugs along the ground and in the bushes. I was surprised by how easily the bugs blended in with the shrubs on the ground. You could easily walk by without seeing them. I was also surprised by how completely uninterested my kids were! Ha! At least I enjoyed finding them.

The hike back up to the East Ridge Trail is just under half a mile of up hill climb that can be challenging with kids, but it was manageable even with a 35 lb. child in my arms. This was our first time on the East Ridge and the trail was considerably busier than the those at the bottom of the canyon. There were lots of people out walking with their families and dogs. Having now done portions of both sides of the ridge, I would say that the East Ridge has the more impressive views which span all the way out to Mt. Diablo on a clear day. We were able to find a few more fallen trees to climb on and lots of dogs for our little ones to smile at. 

If you're looking for ways to extend your visit to Oakland, follow up your hike with a stop at Oakland's Temescal Alley and a delicious fried chicken sandwich from Bakesale Betty, or lunch in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley. 

Have you been to Redwood Regional? Any favorite trails you would recommend?

The details/facts: The Redwood Regional Park is about 5 miles from Berkeley (15 min drive) and free if you are entering the park from the Skyline gate.  The hike we did was about 3 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.

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