Don’t Tread On Me

There’s something a-slithering in Redwood Regional Park. Park Ranger Dee Rosario said that he spotted a rattlesnake near the Girl’s Camp off of Skyline Boulevard.

Rosario said that in 30 years of walking the park, he’s never seen a rattlesnake. Keep your eyes peeled when hiking, especially when it’s sunny and the snakes are basking.

Where To Walk When It’s Too Hot

Today we’re supposed to hit 88 degrees, even in Oakland.  Yes, we know more robust East Bayers from the other side of the Caldecott Tunnel can take triple digits, but these temps are plenty hot for us.

To honor and respect the heat, the Montclair Hiking Club called off their weekly hike which had been planned for a distant red-hot spot.  That makes some sense, but you can always walk – even in the worst heat imaginable – in our local hills.

Typical Huckleberry Relief

Assuming you aren’t getting out there by dawn, don’t give up hope on Spare The Air Days!  The not-so-secret trees, and their fantastic shade, never disappoint the mid-day walkers.  Here are our favorite, reliable paths even in summer doldrums:

  • Huckleberry Relief – 90% shade – Take Huckleberry Path on the left (.05), turn right on Bay Area Ridge Trail (0.37) and saunter for a while in the woods (1.33).  Then veer right to return on Huckleberry Path (2.39).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Huckleberry-Sibley Traverse – 65% shade – Take Huckleberry Path on the left (.05), turn left on Bay Area Ridge Trail (0.37) and take another left (0.49).  Then zig right (1.30) and zag left (1.38) to land on a paved road (1.41).  Proceed uphill to take in a Mt. Diablo view and finally reach Round Top (est 2.0).  Retrace steps to Huckleberry (est 4.0).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Stream Trail – 90% shade – From Skyline, take the classic Stream Trail out and back, even when there’s zero running water.  Stay in the shade by sticking to this valley floor until trail’s end (1.93), and return the same way (3.86).  The walk can be shortened, since it’s an up-and-back route.  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Classic – 75% shade – From Skyline, take West Ridge Trail and turn left on French Trail (0.59).  Make a left on Tres Sendas (1.19), right on Star Flower (1.43), left on French (1.60) and left on Chown (3.28).  At bottom, take a left on Stream Trail (3.82) and return back (5.75).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Peak – 95% shade – Park at Chabot Space & Science lot.  Take West Ridge Trail through Redwood Bowl and follow signs to Redwood Peak, even though they feel like side trails.  Yes this is all redwoods, all the time here (est 1 mile, round trip).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Joaquin Miller Park – 65% shade – Start at Sunset Loop and turn left on either Wild Rose or Fern Ravine.  Make a right on Sequoia Bayview Trail, and then head down Sunset Trail to return (est 2 miles, round trip).  An alternate route takes you left on Sunset Trail and Palos Colorados Trail along the stream, and then heads back (est 2 miles, round trip).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Leona Canyon Escape – 50% shade – From Canyon Oaks, take Leona Trail past the vestiges of a running stream.  Take a left on Pyrite Trail (0.73) and head upwards until trail’s end (1.53).  Return back to Canyon Oaks (3.06).  See trail map and trail head.

Now we have removed all the excuses, as you can luxuriate in Madrones or Redwood trees which pretty much snuff out the sunlight all year.  Feel free to suggest some of your own favorite escapes from the heated days too.

Video Proof of Redwood Ladybugs

Whenever you hike at Redwood Regional Park, you pass signs about the famous ladybugs and their annual migratory visit.  We’re here to report this isn’t a myth or something that only scientists witness anymore.

Just a few weeks ago, one lucky hiker provided video proof of their existence!  The beetles are here, literally swarming around the Prince and Stream trail intersection.  They have the good sense to stay off actual dirt trails, but seem to be everywhere else.

Redwood Park Ladybugs

So what’s the deal with ladybugs?  According to this SFSU paper, these creatures are true survivors.  All they really need are some aphids to fuel their propagation, and above-freezing temperatures.  The Mediterranean-like conditions around here suit them particularly well.

KQED Quest showed off our local ladybugs last year, which you can view here or below.   “We should be in awe of these beetles,” explained Redwood naturalist Linda Yemoto, because they’re able to catch just the right winds to arrive at their winter stomping grounds – in the same exact trees and places annually.  No scientists have figured out why this perfect migration happens.

Quest Ladybug Pajama Party

We tend to hit these Redwood trails maybe once or twice a month but haven’t been lucky enough to find the beetles in residence.  Naturalist Yemoto said the park hosts “a pajama party for ladybugs” which lasts all winter long.  It’s been cold lately, so they are probably burrowing and getting some sleep right now.

The Park District plans to show wintering sites at their upcoming Thousands of Ladybugs program, on Sunday, January 18th, from 10 am – noon.  No registration is required for this free activity, which meets at the Skyline entrance (map) to Redwood Regional Park.  For questions, please call:  (510) 521-6887.

Redwood Park Trees May Be Chopped

This summer, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) announced their plans to thin out trees in Redwood Regional Park, along the East Ridge Trail.

They began their work briefly in July, and cut down trees near the northern entrance.  Then the Park District’s efforts were put on hold, as protests were waged by citizen groups.  What impressed me was the maturity of the protest – whether you agree with it or not.

Despite years of environmental study, there were key questions raised about the sheer quantity of trees to be culled for fire safety or other reasons.  At the time, I only thought about the inconvenience of one of the most popular biking and hiking trails being closed on weekdays.

Apparently many healthy trees were slated for removal, within a 150 foot distance from the trail.  The Hills Conservation Network claimed this was overkill because “fire-safe environments and preservation of natural landscapes are not mutually exclusive.”  They produced this video showing the East Ridge Trail and raising questions along the way.

According to Assistant Fire Chief John Swanson, who works for the Park District, “We are not taking any more trees than are necessary to accomplishing those [fire safety] objectives.”  Montclair’s Rose Nied thought that some trees should be saved from the chopping block, and partially succeeded by walking the trail with Swanson.

The Park District also hosted open meetings, and received comments from hundreds of people afterwards.  Their work was placed on hold while additional assessments were made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The tree removals are scheduled to re-start soon, unless some additional litigation emerges.

Still this was the right way to protest.  There’s no need to camp out in the forest for two years, like the folks who were finally removed from the remaining Berkeley campus tree this week.

Life With the Little Doggies

What if you could spend your days with little doggies?  Karin Cornwall really can answer this best, as the owner/operator of Little Paws’ Big AdventuresSafe Walks For Small Dogs!

Recently, I noticed that Karin organized a special gathering at Joaquin Miller Park’s dog run.  I thought there must be something really interesting, not to mention fun, about this small-dog life.

So I asked Karin – yes, that human on the left – to share a typical day with her charges.  It almost sounds like a bunch of kids learning the ropes at Redwood Regional Park, and here’s the run-down:

Well it was so warm that I hosed down the long haired dogs before our walk.  And boy am I glad I did, because by the end of it you would have never known they were soaked just an hour before.  Blue and Bonner looked like they had just gotten out of a blow dryer.

We walked on the West Ridge Trail at Redwood Park.  At the moment it is closed, as the folks at the park are working on removing dead trees and and dead branches so that they won’t fall on us while we’re hiking.  Normally it’s our go-to-trail on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  West Ridge Trail is always shady, has some interesting topography and lots of places for the energetic dogs in our groups to run amok.

Blue drank water for the first time ever from a bowl on a walk. In the past she has drunk from a creek, but never from a water bottle, my hand, or a bowl.

PJ did better with staying with the group and was off leash for the first leg of the walk yesterday. After our second water break, I leashed him back up for the way home, because he wasn’t responding from just two feet away.

Bonner is doing terrific off leash!  He’s staying with the group.  Attempting to get Parker to play with him, although I think he’d do better to egg on Blue.

Parker is playing fetch and not letting anyone else near “his” pine cone.  All the same, Bonner gets a kick out of chasing Parker while he chases his pine cone.

Karin says she still has a few open spots on her walks each weekday, and would love to fill up with friendly, well-mannered small dogs.  She serves neighborhoods bordering Highway 13 in Oakland.  Visit the LBPA website or call (510) 529-5565 for more info.

Thanks Karin, and I look forward to reporting on different dog-friendly hikes in the area.  Everyone needs a little inspiration about where to take their beloved pooches or meet (and temporarily adopt) a few while walking along the trails.