No. 51: Rockridge Park, Prospect Steps and Locarno Path

Margarido boulder

This chert boulder on Margarido Drive, covered with a wistaria vine, shows how the “Rock Ridge” neighborhood got its name.

Pass through the stately white pillars marking Rockridge Boulevard, and you quickly come to Rockridge Park, a green triangle randomly planted and with few amenities to welcome the passerby. The neighborhood around it, however, is full of interesting architecture and pedestrian-friendly — if aerobic — steps.Map of Prospect and Locarno Steps

Head up Rockridge Boulevard South, and you will soon see the Prospect Steps on your left, up what looks like an extended driveway. An early morning jogger is already using them to climb the hill. Unlike the Oakmore Steps, these haven’t been rebuilt in a while, and their treads tilt crazily where the bare trees are flexing their roots.

After the steps cross Margarido Drive, you should turn around from time to time, to catch your breath as well as the panoramic view across the city. The steps change their name to West Lane as they continue past Manchester Drive, and as you come over the top of the ridge, you have a second vista across the valley of Temescal Creek toward the Montclair Hills.

Locarno Steps

Locarno Path steps

Turn right on Ocean View Drive, and right again on Alpine Terrace. At the very end of Alpine is the Locarno Path, which will take you down to Acacia Avenue. Mindful of their Italian namesake, someone has planted artichokes at the foot of the first flight of steps.

Turning right on Acacia, you pass the occasional newer home or fenced-off empty lot reminds you that the 1991 firestorm touched this neighborhood. But for the most part, the homes are in the traditional styles of the mid-20th century or earlier, and as Acacia drops down the hill, you again catch a glimpse of the view their residents get to enjoy every day.

You will have to step into the street at this point, as the sidewalk disappears, but there is plenty of room for cars to pass safely. Turn right on Margarido, step back onto the sidewalk, and admire the large outcropping of chert on the left side. The owners of the house beneath are using it to hold up part of an extensive wistaria arbor.

At the end of the block, Margarido curves to the right, and by looking sharply near the antique-style light post, you will spot the unmarked pedestrian way that will return you to Rockridge Park. The entire loop is just under a mile.

Cool stuff in the neighborhood: The area around the Rockridge BART station is full of cafes and restaurants, from the elegant Oliveto to the popular Zachary’s Pizza and Cactus Taqueria. Shoppers can also peruse a number of boutiques and Pendragon Books.

More information: About the hunt for the original “Rock Ridge” and the Margarido boulder from the Oakland Geology blog. A four-mile walk that starts at Rockridge BART and includes part of this route is described on the Oakland Urban Paths blog.

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