Oakland Outdoor Adventures

Where is the largest second growth Redwood forest in the world? If you don't know the answer, you haven't spent enough time exploring Oakland's other side. Acres of Redwoods and regional parks line the East Bay hills. No matter where you go in the Bay Area the East Bay Ridge is omnipresent, watching over the bay and the Oakland skyline. Take a quick trip and you can be under the cool shade of a 150-foot Redwood, transported from the mayhem of urban life. You may even achieve Zen-like clarity about your position in the universe.

Redwood Grove Hike in Redwood Park

Skyline Blvd. (about 1/2 mile north of Skyline's intersection with Joaquin Miller Road), Oakland California; Tel. + 510.562.PARK
Between Tilden and Chabot, this 1,836-acre park, which was logged to build San Francisco in the mid-1800s, has been reforested and protected. It has an impressive mountain bike loop- which is also great for dogs and joggers (Ridge Trail, 8.22mi)- grasslands and, of course, Redwood groves.
A great short hike: Get up to Skyline Gate Staging Area. (AC Transit #60) Take the West Ridge Trail to the French Trail. The French Trail is a strenuous 2-mile stretch that will take you to the Star Flower Trail. This trail leads to an amazing Redwood grove that will make you feel complete and demonstrate how Oakland contains the extremes of urban existence and natural beauty? Take Star Flower down to the Stream Trail to get back to the beginning.

Lake Chabot's Bort Meadow BBQ

17930 Lake Chabot Rd., Castro Valley CA 94546; Tel. + 1 510.562.PARK
What you need: A car, friends, BBQ essentials and a Frisbee (or something to throw). Take highway 13 to the Redwood Rd. exit. Take Redwood deep into Anthony Chabot Park, 4,972 acres of recreational utopia. Stay on Redwood Rd. for about 8 miles until you hit the Bort Meadow staging area. Park and follow the signs. Bort Meadow has two giant BBQ grills, tables, spigots, and facilities. From the meadow you have access to miles of great biking and hiking trails. Most popular for Lake Chabot and the family campground, this park is mostly devoid of humans, just watch out for the cows.

Joaquin Miller Park

Joaquin Miller Rd. and Sanborn Dr., Oakland CA; Tel. +1 510.238.3481
Offering gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay, Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park is a hiker and biker's paradise with a transporting 3.5-mile loop trail through an original second growth Redwood forest. Joaquin Miller Park is also popular for weddings and outdoor events at the Woodminster Theater, a stone amphitheater with the impressive Woodminster Cascade, a series of waterfalls and pools.

Roberts Park

Skyline Blvd. (about 1/2 mile north of Skyline's intersection with Joaquin Miller Road), Oakland California; Tel. +1 510.562.PARK
A 100-acre park in Oakland, Robert's Park is a playground for families and groups. With a second growth Redwood forest, volleyball and a baseball field, Roberts Park has a little bit of everything for escaping the urban maze. One of the highlights of Roberts Park is the 25-foot, heated swimming pool (open May to Sept) that boasts private lessons and public lap times.

Tilden Park

Wildcat Canyon Rd. and Grizzly Peak Blvd., Berkeley California; Tel. +1 510.562.PARK
Tilden Park is Berkeley's sprawling outdoor recreation area in the nearby Berkeley Hills, easily accessible from Oakland and worth the short drive. With miles of secluded trails for hiking and biking, scenic outdoor areas for large group gatherings, Tilden Park is one the East Bay's most beloved outdoor areas. Best of all, Tilden Park features the popular Tilden Lake. One side features a public beach and life guards, while a short walk to the other side features large granite rocks perfect for jumping the warm (in summer and fall) water below.

Diablo Foothills

1700 Castle Rock Rd., Walnut Creek CA 94598; Tel. +1 510.562.PARK
In the shadow of Mt. Diablo, the East Bay's towering answer to Marin's Mt. Tamalpais, the Diablo Foothills is a undeveloped stretch of wilderness with miles of hikes and some of the East Bay's most pristine parklands and best panoramic views.

—Oakland outdoor activities reviews by Kalim Summerday Armstrong