A little over 10 years ago, a coalition of community groups came together to restore a three-block stretch of Temescal Creek, opening it up and landscaping it, adding a path and using it to link two playgrounds. And judging by the number of people using FROG (Friends of the Greenbelt) Park on a Sunday afternoon, their work has been a smashing success.
Start at Clarke Street and Redondo Avenue and walk upstream; you’ll pass a half-dozen kids and their parents playing in the grassy verge of the creek or in the tot lot under a stand of redwoods. Around the curve in the path, the creek becomes more natural, and a woman is throwing a ball across it for an ecstatic Australian shepherd to chase. You can step off the sidewalk and follow a narrow dirt trail next to the creek.
In the next block, the park passes behind the Department of Motor Vehicles. Sunday is farmer’s market day in the DMV parking lot, and several groups are eating market meals while sitting next to the creek. You may have noticed several concrete monoliths along the path with telescopes set at adult- and child-eye level. Each telescope focuses on a bronze sculpture. Most depict native animals; one is an Ohlone mortar.
The path ends at Hardy Street, where the creek flattens out into a wading pool full of splashing kids next to a wooden castle and train model. You can extend your walk into the neighborhood; the streets that run between Hudson and Cavour streets are narrow and tree-lined. You will see not only gracious bungalows, some with second stories, but a few grand Victorians.
Update: I don’t know how many parents would be willing to let their children play in the water in winter, but in case Count Olaf reads this blog, he should know that the wading pond and creekbed are dry right now. (Jan. 6, 2013)
Getting there: FROG Park runs parallel to Claremont Avenue between Telegraph Avenue and Hudson. Rockridge BART is nearby.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: Really, too much to list everything. The Temescal shopping district, around Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street, includes Bakesale Betty, the Genova Delicatessen, a number of Ethiopian restaurants, and Temescal Alley, a hip collection of shops off 49th Street between Telegraph and Clarke. The shopping district along College Avenue near Rockridge BART includes Market Hall and Bittersweet Cafe.