In this post, I list some favorite general places to walk in Berkeley. All of these are items that I would mention if someone asked me to describe Berkeley; they all stand out in my mind after this walk as defining aspects of this city. Again, in no particular order:
Community and school gardens: Before I started this walk, I knew about the famous Edible Schoolyard, but I did not realize that just about every school in Berkeley also had a vegetable garden. Many of these gardens are either viewable from outside the school gates or otherwise accessible, so I enjoy stopping to take a look at what is growing in different seasons at the the various school gardens. There are also a few community gardens in Berkeley, which can also be seen even when the gardens are closed.
Berkeley’s farmers markets: Berkeley has markets year-round three days a week (Tuesday and Thursday late afternoon & early evening, and Saturdays). Usually I walk to the markets once or twice a week as a destination, but I always like to walk through if I am near one of them whether or not I have anything to buy. As with the gardens, it’s a great opportunity to see foods in season, but it also provides a fun people-watching opportunity. My favorite of the three markets for walking (and for the selection) is the Tuesday one, both because this market seems to have the broadest mix of different types of people shopping there and because its set-up with a narrow and crowded walkway makes it a vibrant place to walk.
Bike boulevards and bike routes: I talked a bit about this in a past post; Berkeley has a large bicycle network of bike lanes and bike boulevards (which have traffic barriers and encourage cyclists to take the full traffic lane). These streets are nice for walking for the most part, especially because you’re more likely to hear the pleasant sounds of bicycles than cars. People carrying on conversations, children laughing in their trailers and bicycle seats, and all sorts of interesting carrying devices whiz by while you are walking. Milvia and Russell are my favorites of the bike network, but all are streets that I go back to often to walk.
Paths: I have talked a lot about the Berkeley path system throughout the course of writing this blog, so it should be no surprise that this has been one of my favorite parts of walking Berkeley. I originally was thinking I would do a post with my favorite paths, but I really don’t know that I would be able to pick favorites. Instead, I will suggest some ways to explore the paths. The southern paths are an easy walk away from Rockridge BART; just veer to the right onto Claremont Avenue (while you are still in Oakland) and enter the Claremont/Uplands neighborhood to the right once you cross the Berkeley border. If you are visiting the Berkeley campus and Telegraph Avenue, a small network of paths is located just a few blocks east of Telegraph (walk along the south border of campus on Bancroft). On Solano Avenue in Berkeley, walk east until you see Indian Rock Path. Follow this path to begin exploring the rock parks mentioned in the Walk Highlights post on parks. There are many, many paths in the Berkeley hills, and it took several trips to complete this portion of my walk. One suggestion for starting to explore these paths is to take either the 65 or 67 bus, which can be picked up at downtown Berkeley BART, and get off at a random stop in the hills; then start making your way down along the paths. For all of these walks, of course, the Berkeley Path Wanderers map should be your reference.
Creeks: The creek system in Berkeley is not quite as a big of a political issues as historic architecture and new development, but it is a contentious topic nonetheless; some people would like to see all of the creeks flowing above ground everywhere, and others are concerned about its affect on nearby homes and other obstacles that have been built up over the years. As a walker, I appreciate the creek system as it is now. Following the path of the creeks to see where they pop up above ground and then back under again in a random pattern is lots of fun, and definitely something I would recommend especially when walking with children. For a long (but downhill) walk, you can follow Codornices Creek from the hills down through Codornices Park and Live Oak Park (mentioned in the Walk Highlights post on parks), and then along the Berkeley-Albany border to the Bay. A less ambitious but equally enjoyable place to enjoy a creek walk is through the UC Berkeley campus where Strawberry Creek flows above ground.
Stayed tuned next week for my final Walk Highlights post, with specific highlights not covered by any of the previous posts.