News from the East Bay Regional Park District
By Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, EBRPD
Wildfire safety is especially important in the fall, when hot, dry Diablo winds blow in from the east, creating potentially dangerous fire conditions. When in parks, be aware of fire warnings and follow all fire safety rules. Report any potential fire hazards immediately and call 911 if you see a fire.
The Park District is a leader in addressing the risks of wildfires and stands ready to fight fires if they occur. Year-round activities include thinning and removing hazardous vegetation from parks, maintaining a professionally trained fire department with specialized wildland firefighting equipment, operating two helicopters with firefighting capabilities, and closely monitoring fire weather conditions.
Habitat restoration is underway at Briones Regional Park as part of the Park District’s Briones Pilot Project, a two-year project testing various trail management strategies to enhance visitor experience, reduce conflicts, improve trail safety, and protect natural habitat and wildlife. Restoring illegally built “bootleg” trails is a critical component of the project.
Key pilot project strategies include:
- Four Bike-Only/Downhill-Only Trails – Four trail sections have been designated bike-only and downhill-only due to terrain and user safety.
- Dedicated Odd/Even Weekend Day Access – On odd-numbered weekend days, bikers and hikers are allowed on designated trails with no horses allowed. On even-numbered weekend days, horses and hikers are allowed on designated trails, with no bikes allowed. Hikers are permitted on all days on most trails in the pilot zone.
- Bootleg Trail Restoration – Restoration of illegally built “bootleg” trails has begun. Bootleg trails often damage natural habitat for wildlife, including endangered and sensitive species.
The Park District and the community recently celebrated the completion of a new SF Bay Trail segment and boat launch renovations at Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, which significantly improves safety and access to the shoreline for neighboring communities. The new SF Bay Trail section, located along Doolittle Drive in Oakland, provides safe passage for users, who can now walk, ride, or roll on 2,300 feet of new trail rather than the open shoulder of busy Doolittle Drive.
The project also upgraded the boat launch staging area adjacent to the trail, including a repaved staging area parking lot and renovated ADA-accessible boat, kayak, and paddleboard launch area. The project also restored one acre of marsh habitat.
Public access improvement and habitat restoration are coming soon to Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont on 300 acres donated to the Regional Parks Foundation and passed through to the Park District to expand Coyote Hills Regional Park. The project restores habitat and provides balanced public access to approximately 200 acres, including seasonal wetlands, grassland, riparian forest, and oak savanna. New visitor facilities include an additional 100-space parking area, picnic tables, restrooms, water fountains, new and improved trails, wildlife overlooks, and educational exhibits and signage. The project is expected to open in 2024.
Tarantulas are out and about looking for love in Regional Parks. In the fall, you may encounter male tarantulas along the trails as they venture out in search of mates. Although tarantulas can look scary with their large size and furry bodies, they are actually gentle giants and are harmless to humans. The best parks to spot tarantulas at are Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Del Valle Regional Park, and Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve.
The Park District also has a number of naturalist-led programs in October that are focused on tarantulas. For a complete list of programs, visit www.ebparks.org/calendar and search “tarantula.”
Gain a deeper understanding of the local Indigenous Peoples past, present, and future at the Gathering of Ohlone Peoples on Sunday, October 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Park District falls within the homelands of about 25 tribes of Native peoples, who speak variants of two Ohlone languages (East Bay Costanoan and Karkin) and the Bay Miwok and Delta Yokuts languages. European settlement brought severe disruption, dislocation, and suffering to the Ohlone peoples.
Join Ohlone Peoples from diverse tribal communities as they share their living history through music, song, dance, and stories. For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/Gathering-of-Ohlone-Peoples.
Explore nature at your own pace and in your own way at Big Break Visitor Center’s 2023 All Abilities Day on Tuesday, October 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Travel along paved trails to visit stations to touch fur, listen to birds, draw wildlife, sit on benches to scan the water, or paint the view. The program is inclusive for all abilities, offering something for everyone! American Sign Language and Spanish interpreters on site. Wheelchair accessible. Drop in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/we-celebrate/all-abilities-day.
Enjoy “Fall on the Farm” at the Ardenwood Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Enjoy old-time country fun as you help bring in this year’s crop of corn. Outside the field, enjoy seasonal activities, cider pressing, old-time music, and historic crafts. Ride a narrow-gauge train and learn what late 19th-century life was like on a tour of the beautifully restored farmhouse. Please bring a bag if you would like to take home some of your harvested corn. $12/adults, $10/seniors, $8/children ages 4-17, ages 3 and under free. Advance registration is available. For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/calendar and search “Harvest Festival.”
History comes alive with games, activities, and music at the Sunol Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sunol Visitor Center. Celebrate the diverse heritage of the Sunol Wilderness at this fun festival for all ages! Free event. Parking is $5. For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/events/sunol-heritage-festival
Visit Ardenwood’s ‘Haunted Train’ for a frightfully fun nighttime ride through Ardenwood’s haunted forest. The ride is spooky, not scary, and is designed especially for children under 12 and those young at heart. Tickets for this event sell out fast! Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Beginning October 20) and Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 900 p.m. (beginning October 22). $15/person ages 3+. ‘Haunted Train’ is operated by the Railroad Museum at Ardenwood. For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/events/haunted-railroad.
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.