Tag Archives: wheelchair

Minor Update: Lake Merritt

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The pedestrian bridge across Lake Merritt at 12th Street is complete and offers a splendid vantage point of the water, downtown, and the distant hills. Other than some broken asphalt near Lakeside and 14th and the need to use the parking lot near Fairyland, the route is now wheelchair friendly.

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Minor update: Earth Day

It couldnt be a better day for a walk near Oakland’s waterfront. The farmer’s market at Jack London Square is in full swing, and though most of the Earth Day service projects were yesterday,  you still have a chance to plant seeds and get gardening tips.

I must go down to the sea again.

I must go down to the sea again.

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No. 37: Glen Echo Park to Oak Glen Park, Monte Vista Avenue, Piedmont Avenue and Richmond Boulevard

Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park is an inconspicuous pocket of native plants alongside Glen Echo Creek.

When Oakland was under development, most of its creeks were seen as nuisances to be diverted into culverts and buried underground. In the last half of the 20th century, Oaklanders started to realize that preserving the creeks was a way to protect natural diversity as well as enhance our neighborhoods.

Hundreds of residents will turn out for Creek to Bay Day  on the third Saturday of September — Sept. 15 this year — cleaning up trash, pulling invasive weeds and planting natives along the city’s creeks. On the list of work sites are some parks so small, they may have escaped notice of anyone not living in the area.

Glen Echo Park, for example, is less than two blocks long, straddling Monte Vista Avenue just east of Piedmont Avenue. To the north, it’s a well-maintained grove of natives with a few rough-hewn stones that could serve as stools for watching the creek. To the south, the park narrows still further to just a trail under some young redwoods.

glecnechooakglenAnother section of Glen Echo Creek is open just a few blocks away, but to reach it, you’ll have to return to Piedmont Avenue, cross MacArthur Boulevard, and jog left one short block to Richmond Boulevard. Oak Glen Park is a wide median of laurel and oak trees that actually passes under Interstate 580. Unfortunately, there is no way to actually walk through most of the park — the exception being a wood-chip lot under the freeway that serves as an unfenced dog park, and a surprisingly lovely pergola and concrete bridge at Croxton Avenue that allow you to linger over the creek. This park may seem more lush than Glen Echo, but that’s because invasive vines are choking out the natives. One hopes volunteers will be taking care of that in a week.

The walk between Glen Echo and Oak Glen gets a B- for esthetics — the lower end of Piedmont, which passes the Kaiser Hospital garage, is interesting, but not particularly attractive. If you want a prettier walk, follow Monte Vista uphill from Glen Echo, past some lovely, large Victorian and Mediterranean houses and some architecturally undistinguished modern apartment buildings. A block past the crest of the hill, you’ll find the Morcom Rose Garden, which is now in full bloom.

Getting there: Glen Echo Park is at Piedmont and Monte Vista Avenues. Oak Glen Park is on Richmond Boulevard between Warren and Randwick Avenues. Piedmont Avenue is well-served by public transit.

Cool stuff in the neighborhood: Want a hot soak, a sauna or a massage? Piedmont Springs is nearby. You also can get an ice cream cone from Fenton’s Creamery (made famous by the movie “Up”) or dine with the carnivores at Bay Wolf, home of the prix fixe “whole hog” dinner.

More information: About Glen Echo Creek and the parks is available from the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League.

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No. 36: Jack London Square, Bay Trail to Estuary Park

Jack London Square

Couples find this stretch of the Bay Trail to be a pleasant spot for spending a sunny afternoon.

Starting at the ferry terminal at the end of Clay Street is a well-maintained one-mile stretch of the Bay Trail, using boardwalks, sidewalks and decomposed granite paths to reach Estuary Park and the Jack London Aquatic Center. The sound of boat horns and the occasional rumble of a passenger train pulling into the Amtrak station nearby give this walk an exhilarating feel, as if at any moment you could step off for the Yukon or the South Seas.

Before you head north, take a moment to gawk at the Potomac, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s yacht, which is docked near the ferry berth and the Lightship Relief, another historical vessel. Then continue along the waterfront, following the boardwalk around the Waterfront Hotel, Miss Pearl’s cajun restaurant and Scott’s seafood restaurant. All the restaurants were doing good business on this sunny holiday weekend. In fact, there were so many people in the square, it was hard to understand why so many retail spaces were empty.

Heinolds, Harvest Home

Heinold’s First and Last Chance.

At the north end of the square, the new Harvest Home market building dwarfs Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, the bar where Jack London met the model for his Sea Wolf. The log cabin in front of Heinold’s was reconstructed from half of one that London stayed in while prospecting in the frozen north. (The other half went to build a similar monument in Dawson.) A public viewing platform shaped like a lighthouse gives you an opportunity to get above it all for a moment.

Past the platform, the Bay Trail becomes a decomposed granite path and curves between condos and marinas. There is a pleasant picnic spot at the end of  Alice Street, and fishermen are keeping a cursory watch on their rods. As the trail nears Estuary Park, it becomes rougher and the scenery, a bit grittier. An unmarked abstract sculpture of tectonic steel plates has been turned into an open-air bed.

If you want a slightly different return path, take First Street back from the Aquatic Center to Oak Street, cross the railroad tracks on Oak and follow Second Street back through the Produce District.

Getting There: The Oakland Ferry Terminal is at the west end of Clay Street.

Cool stuff in the area: Besides everything mentioned above, Yoshi’s jazz club and Japanese restaurant is just a few steps away.

More information: On the Estuary Park from Waterfront Action.

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No. 34: Redwood Regional Park, Canyon Meadow Staging Area, Stream Trail

Stream Trail, Redwood Regional Park, Canyon Meadows Staging Area.

This flat, paved section of the Stream Trail is very accessible and makes for an easy stroll.

The Canyon Meadow Staging Area is open and full of picnic sites, and this end of  the Stream Trail is similarly accessible — broad, paved and nearly level, it winds through the meadow and along Redwood Creek.

Past the picnic areas and play structure, the trail goes into a redwood forest. Split rail fences protect the stream banks, which are undergoing native plant restoration. Many people are walking dogs, and every so often, you pass a group camp site. “Old Church” offers some benches in a grove by a bend in the creek. A little further, and you can rest at a picnic table in a small meadow.

The paved section of the trail ends about a mile from the parking lot, at “Trail’s End.” If you want a little variety, you can turn uphill on the Chown Trail and come back by the bridle path, just uphill from the paved trail. Bikes are not permitted past the end of the pavement, but the trail itself continues for another 2 miles, to the Skyline Gate of the park. All but the last half mile are fairly level.

(Even though classes started Monday, I didn’t forget my walk last weekend. But I did forget to post about it. I have adjusted the date of this post to reflect the date of the walk.)

Getting there: The Canyon Meadow Staging Area is on Redwood Road east of Skyline Boulevard.

Cool stuff in the neighborhood: There are three stables in the area: Piedmont, Skyline Ranch and the Redwood Equestrian Arena.

More information: A trail map can be found at the East Bay Regional Parks site. A list of other wheelchair-accessible trails in the Bay Area can be found at Wheelchairtrails.net.

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No. 16: Shoreline Park, Bay Farm Island

Shoreline Park, Bay Farm Island

Shoreline Park runs from the Oakland Airport to the Otis Drive bridge.

Geographically, Bay Farm Island should be part of Oakland: Unlike the rest of Alameda, which sits across the estuary, Bay Farm is attached to the mainland near the Oakland Airport and is no longer an island at all. Shoreline Park is a narrow, three-mile long strip that runs from the fence that marks the end of the airport to the bridge across the estuary to the main island. For most of its length, you will have a choice between a paved bike path and a wide trail of crushed gravel.

Today, the sky is Delft blue, but the wind is chilly. Walkers and joggers are wearing everything from shorts and T-shirts to sweaters, scarves and gloves. Starting at the south end of the trail, you walk past a landscape of been-heres and came-heres: ceanothus covered with thumb-sized clusters of blue flowers and purple tower-of-jewels as long as your forearm; manzanita, pampas grass and ice plant. The shoreline is broken rock, but fishermen find places to wedge their rods.

Joggers

The paved path is preferred by joggers and bikers.

About a mile from the southern end of the park is the Harbor Bay ferry terminal and a large grassy strip perfect for kite flying. At this point, you leave the Harbor Bay Business Park behind and enter a neighborhood of neat, if cookie-cutter, houses whose back yards and balconies have an enviable view of the bay. In a mini-park a little north of the ferry terminal, two dozen teenagers in prom wear are having their pictures taken against the stunning backdrop.

The wind drops as you come around the head of the island and the view changes from San Francisco to downtown Oakland. Another mini-park is designed to look like the bridge of a Coast Guard cutter, with the cement “prow” giving a number of places to sit and enjoy the sights. Alameda parks are distinguished by their spotless maintenance, and this one is no exception: The fountain not only works, it dispenses cool, good-tasting water.

Getting there: One end of the park is off Harbor Bay Parkway, which runs off of Ron Cowan Drive. Parking is  prohibited along much of the parkway, but is permitted on the water side near the south end of the park and near the ferry terminal and mini-parks. There is bus service to the business park.

Cool stuff nearby: Two benches on the rocky spit at the south end of the park allow you to sit and watch planes take off overhead.

More information: About Shoreline Park from Waterfront Action, and about Harbor Bay from the homeowners associations.

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No. 6: Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Damon Slough to Tidewater Boating Center

Ecology Stone art installation at 66th Ave. and Oakport

One of the “Ecology Stones” in the “Fluid Dynamics” art installation near the Damon Slough staging area depicts life beneath the muddy surface of San Leandro Bay.

Perhaps the mild, sunny weather biases my report, but I think this may be the prettiest stretch of trail in this park. Hardly out of the staging area, you pass the whimsical “Fluid Dynamics” installation by Portland, Ore., artists Fernanda D’Agostino and Valerie Otani. A soaring metal canopy represents the Pacific Flow, while carved granite “Ecology Stones” depict various inhabitants of San Leandro Bay.

From there, a paved bicycle path follows the shoreline past a shallow tidal flat teeming with sandpipers and their cousins. The air has a wild tang, part herbal, part brackish water. Farther out on the flats, three derelict boats are esthetically decomposing. On the east is a typical mix of California natives and interlopers — ceanothus, French broom, vetch, pampas grass and eucalyptus. You pass Curt Flood Fields, named for the McClymonds High School graduate who brought free agency to baseball.

As the trail crosses East Creek, it skirts a PG&E yard and a scrap yard full of big rig parts — row upon row of axles and cargo trailers, some pieces looking completely roadworthy were it not for the weeds overgrowing them. There is a gritty beauty in the neat repetition of parts, like Ginsberg’s “boxcars boxcars boxcars.” The contrast between this and the comfortable-looking homes on the Alameda side of the channel is almost comical.

Finally, you reach the neat blue Tidewater Aquatic Center, with its accessible dock and picnic areas.

Getting there: Take 66th Avenue west to Oakport and the Damon Slough staging area, or go to the very end of Edgewater Drive and start at Garretson Point.

Cool stuff in the area: Cool mostly for being unexpected is the shopping center at Hegenberger and Edgewater, which has a Starbucks and a Jamba Juice.

More information: East Bay Regional Parks website.

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No. 3: Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Arrowhead Marsh to Garretson Point

Martin Luther King Shoreline, Garretson Point

The trail north towards Garretson Point runs alongside San Leandro Bay.

From the Arrowhead Marsh parking lot, you have several options. You can make a loop around the fenced-in “New Marsh,” or you can walk down one bank of San Leandro Creek to a staging area at Hegenberger Road, then back along the other bank. The third option is to cross San Leandro Creek and head north, along the edge of San Leandro Bay.

As you turn north, the view opens up. Across the wide expanse of the bay, you see the city of Alameda, and, through the gap between it and the airport, Sutro Tower in San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpais in Marin. The paved trail that runs between some big-box office buildings and the shoreline is perfectly flat with gentle curves, and several children are using it to practice their bicycling skills. A 20-minute walk brings you to Garretson Point, named for an Oakland Tribune reporter who was one of the first to write about the need for wetlands restoration. Next to it are Damon Marsh, the Edgewater Wetland and the Zhone Wetland; if you keep following the trail past the Oakland Sports Complex, you will eventually hook up with the Bay Trail near the foot of High Street.

A half-dozen seagulls squabble with a turkey vulture for the same draft of air. Although a stand of ceanothus covered with blue blossoms promises an early spring, sharp winds and scudding clouds make the day too cold to walk all the way to Alameda, or to stand for long watching shorebirds. Back at Arrowhead Marsh, the trail is more protected, and a couple of birders stake out their position at the end of the viewing pier.

Getting There: Take Hegenberger Road east from Interstate 880; turn right on Doolittle Drive and right on Swan Way. The entrance to the park is immediately on your left. Go past the first two parking lots to the end of the access road; you’ll see the wooden view platform on the left.

Cool stuff in the neighborhood: When you leave the park, turn left on Swan Way and right on Pardee Drive. On your right, at the corner of Hegenberger Road, is the ILWU Hall, a  mid-century building topped with a soaring, space-age arch. The corner of the building is covered with a colorful mosaic that looks like the work of local artist Bennie Bufano.

More information: East Bay Regional Parks website.

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No. 2: Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Swan Way to Arrowhead Marsh

Arrowhead Marsh at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline

Members of the Ohlone Audubon Society try to get a glimpse of a rare Nelson’s sparrow.

The first part of this walk probably qualifies as “pleasant” and “interesting” rather than beautiful. From the small parking lot next to the memorial grove, a level, paved path takes you along a broad estuary with views of North Field, the general aviation section of Oakland International Airport. You’ll share the path with bicyclists and the view with anglers; there is an actual fishing pier on the Doolittle Drive side of the estuary. The Shoreline Center nearby is also home to the Oakland Strokes nonprofit junior rowing club, and this morning three quad shells were running laps in the channel.

A 15-minute walk brings you to Arrowhead Marsh, a stopover on the Pacific Flyway. Besides the ubiquitous coots and grebes, winter brings goldeneyes, northern shovelers, ruddy ducks and buffleheads. Two dozen or more members of the Ohlone Audubon Society were trying to get a glimpse of a Nelson’s sparrow that was somewhat out of its range.

To get a better look at the birds, you can stroll out a boardwalk into the marsh, or climb a swooping, wheelchair-accessible observation tower. The large, saucerlike sculpture next to it is designed to mark the solstices.

Getting There: Take Hegenberger Road east from Interstate 880; turn right on Doolittle Drive and right on Swan Way. The entrance to the park is immediately on your left.

Cool stuff in the neighborhood: The Oakland Aviation Museum. (Part of its collection is visible from your walk.)

More information: East Bay Regional Parks website.

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