On Sunday, I officially finished walking every street and path in Berkeley! I’ll have a post on this tomorrow or Friday, but first a few more walk highlights that were not covered by in any of the other categories in previous posts:
Thousand Oaks rocks: On my first walk or two in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood, I observed that it was a very pleasant neighborhood for walking, but did not expect to find anything out of the ordinary. When I finally got to Vicente Avenue, all of this changed. I knew about the Rock parks in Berkeley, but did not realize that there were other large rocks throughout the neighborhood. Giant boulders appear in front yards, and in some cases rocks have been incorporated into the houses’ architecture. It’s difficult to take everything in at once, so I imagine taking many more walks in this area in the future.
Upper Claremont: The neighborhood above Tunnel Road is a fascinating place to explore because of its very different architecture from most of the other Berkeley neighborhoods. This area has many new homes that have been built since the East Bay Hills fire in 1991, quite a few of which have very modern designs. I had some pretty strong reactions to some of the houses up here; I am a huge fan of mid-century modern architecture and modest, well-designed new modern architecture, but I found myself saying “what were they thinking?” while looking at some of the homes up here. But this is precisely why I enjoyed walking here: there is a lot to take in and to think about while walking through here, not just about the individual houses, but also about the fire itself, how homes and landscaping are constructed in fire-prone areas, how community forms or doesn’t form after a disaster, and what drives people to build (and re-build) homes in areas that are prone to natural disasters. The best way to access this neighborhood and avoid much of the Tunnel Road traffic is to take the Short Cut path off Tunnel Road to the left, soon after Ashby turns into Tunnel. Then walk along Alvarado Road and Vicente Road (not to be confused with Vicente in Thousand Oaks, mentioned above), and on the Sunset Trail and Willow Walk paths.
Panoramic Hill: In my previous Walk Highlights post, I mentioned the paths near the Berkeley campus. A walk on these paths (such as Orchard Lane and Mosswood Lane) takes you into a small neighborhood that is easy to miss otherwise. Although you can look down and see the Cal Memorial Stadium and sports facilities from here, it seems like you are a world away from the hubbub of the campus. In addition to the amazing views implied by the name of the neighborhood, this area is a nice place for walking because it offers access to the Claremont Canyon and Strawberry Canyon fire trails. Although the neighborhood is small, it is a nice spot to revisit, taking different routes up and down the paths and around the loops of Panoramic and Dwight Way for interesting views (just keep an eye on the road for traffic).
Ohlone Greenway & Santa Fe Right-of-Way: In addition to the path system that I mentioned in my previous post, two paths on railroad right-of-ways run through Berkeley. The Ohlone Greenway comes through Berkeley from the north, following the BART tracks past the North Berkeley station, through Ohlone Park and ending just before BART turns onto Shattuck and to the downtown station. As I’ve mentioned in past blog entries, there is much to see along the Greenway — murals, gardens, sculpture, etc. — and I take it often to get from place to place. Just a caveat on this area (similar to my previous note about San Pablo Ave.) — although I always recommend being cautious walking at night in general, I have found that the Greenway north of the North Berkeley BART station and on into the neighboring towns is a place I do not feel safe after dark due to lots of shrubbery and dark areas along the trail which can be a magnet for criminal activity. The Santa Fe Right-of-Way path is only partially complete at this time, but a portion can be walked from its intersection with the Ohlone Greenway just south of Cedar-Rose Park all the way to University Avenue. Also walkable is the section through Strawberry Creek Park.
West Berkeley industrial zone: The area near the Bay in Berkeley, as it is in many other towns circling the Bay area, has a history of industrial activity. Many of the old buildings in West Berkeley are still somewhat intact, with some occupied with new industry and others empty. North of University Ave., many of these buildings are in the blocks on either side of the railroad tracks. The west side of the tracks is an area that I might have missed had I not been doing this project. If you are exploring this area, keep in mind that plenty of train traffic rolls through here, and make sure to cross the tracks only at official crossings. South of University, the streets that start at 7th and dead end at the Aquatic Park are particularly interesting to explore, as are Murray and Folger streets west of San Pablo.
I-80 bicycle/pedestrian bridge: If you’ve ever had to navigate dangerous freeway entrances on foot or bicycle or cross a freeway on one of those narrow overcrossings that are close to the traffic exhaust and are often unpleasant for walking, you probably understand why I appreciate the I-80 bridge so much. It is nicely designed, high above traffic, and has plenty of room for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and bicycles. Once on the other side, you can pop onto the Bay Trail or visit some of the many attractions at the Berkeley Marina. A good alternative to a trail hike after lots of rain is to take the bridge over the freeway and walk south on the Bay Trail’s paved path to the Emeryville border, then return and either continue out to the Marina or back over and around the Aquatic Park. Plenty of opportunities to see birds and other wildlife without the mud.