After first moving to Berkeley, a friend gave us a copy of East Bay Out, a guide to the East Bay parks written by Malcolm Margolin. The book was published in 1988, so it is probably not the best guide to use on its own when hiking in one of the parks, but I highly recommend it nonetheless. The writing is great, and it provides quite a bit of interesting natural history of the area. Although I wanted to eventually explore all of the parks listed in the book, the description of Claremont Canyon stood out to me because of its proximity to the streets of Berkeley. A couple of months later I walked behind UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr campus and found the entrance to the steep trail up the hill. Not having a map of the area, I wasn’t sure how far the trails went, but I could see that there was more out there that I hadn’t explored.
This Sunday, after a short but strong rainstorm the night before, I set out to walk some of the streets at the back of the Berkeley campus that I had not yet tackled — Stadium Rim Way, Centennial Drive, and some of the surrounding streets. Sunday turned out to be a big sporting event day at the campus; there was a rugby game, soccer, people using the sports fields and facilities, lots of people and loudspeakers. Usually my Sunday mornings are pretty quiet, so I was a bit surprised by all of the activity, and it was a little bit of a relief to suddenly jump onto a dirt fire road off Centennial Drive. The trails here run along and then away from Strawberry Creek, and intersect with the Claremont Canyon trails. Eventually I was popped out on the street again, near all of the fraternities and sororities and lots of activity again. It was sort of a shocking and fun experience to go from lots of noise and activity to trees and water, then back to all of the activity again.I really like the idea of being able to access trails easily just by walking off the city street and onto the trail. If you live in the Berkeley Hills, Tilden Park can be accessed easily from the street, as I mention in my post about Tilden a couple of months ago. However, the Strawberry Canyon and Claremont Canyon trails are even more available because of their proximity to Downtown Berkeley BART. In fact, I found a very nice self-guided tour of these areas written by the Greenbelt Alliance. I plan on going back soon with to do their variation on the walk with the added historical details.