Monday, January 16, 2012

The Oakland Hills: Huckleberry Nature Trail

A surprising amount of open space is found in the Oakland hills, making it possible to move in a short time from the densely urban sections of the city, to being totally immersed in nature.  Sunday, January 1st, 2012, was one of those remarkable warm sunny days, when even though the calendar said that we were in the heart of winter, the air felt almost summery.  Art and I decided to take hike on the Huckleberry Trail in the Huckleberry Botanic Nature Preserve, part of the extensive trail system running through the San Francisco Bay region.
This 1.7 mile loop winds its away along the side of forested hill, looking out toward the grassy slopes to the north and west.  Although we did have some minor climbs and descents, it was basically easy walking.  Along the way posts with numbered markers served as a guide.  At number six we climbed to the top of a small knoll where there was a bench tucked among the manzanita bushes and a spectacular view.  As we sat there, a hummingbird zipped by and systematically fed from the tiny manzanita blooms.


According to the trail guide, the Huckleberry Preserve is an ecological jewel, preserving plants found nowhere else in the East Bay.  Besides the manzanitas, we passed towering California bay trees, patches of ferns, delicate lichens, and, of course, huckleberry plants.  While we did see other people on the trail, after all it was a beautiful day and a holiday, we enjoyed the feeling of being alone in the great outdoors. The Huckleberry Trail is for walkers only–no bikers, joggers, or horseback riding, which helps ensure its peaceful and relaxing qualities.  I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to enjoy nature close to home, as we continue to explore the area in and around San Francisco Bay.


To Reach The Park

From Highway 24 in Oakland, take the Fish Ranch Road exit immediately east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Continue 0.8 miles to Grizzly Peak Blvd. Turn left and go 2.4 miles on Grizzly Peak to Skyline Boulevard. Turn left and drive approximately one-half mile to the park entrance on the left, past Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

The closest bus line, AC Transit #305, runs only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. From Lake Merritt BART, 19th Street BART, or Rockridge BART take AC Transit bus 59 or 59A; these bus lines go to the Montclair Transit Center. From there, transfer to AC Transit bus 305 and exit at the stop on Colton Boulevard and Ridgewood Drive. Walk the short distance from Colton to Skyline Boulevard, turn left and proceed to the preserve. It is a mostly level, 0.5-mile walk. Please call AC Transit 511 (TDD/TTY: 1-800-448-9790) or visit www.transit.511.org to confirm transit information.

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