Sibley Geology In Full View

Our local volcano is now dressed in its finest greenery, so this is an ideal time to stroll around Sibley Volcanic Preserve (map).  Typically the scenery is wonderful before things dry up and brown out – just look at the panorama snapped this week.

Classic Sibley View

Volcanic Time Capsule

Besides soaking in the views, it’s also worth contemplating the 10-million-year time capsule underneath your feet.  Sibley is one of four volcanoes that originally erupted near San Jose, and slowly traveled northwards.  Presumably it will pass us by, in another 10 million years or so.

Interestingly, the Sibley volcano tipped sideways and and was pretty much hidden from view.  When gravel rock mining took place years ago, volcanic features became more evident.  A few Berkeley geologists discovered this wonder and have studied the rocks and formations in detail.

One of these Berkeley geologists, Steve Edwards, first mapped the area in the 1970s and later joined the East Bay Regional Park District.  He shared the geological underpinnings in KQED’s Quest program last July.

Touring The Volcano

Just like all the earthquakes around here, the volcanic activities were triggered by plate tectonics.  You can walk up to Round Top (1,763 ft), the highest point in the park, where Pacific and North American plates crashed together and molten basalt lava flowed.

Then walk a quarter mile northeast, and arrive at the volcano top near the gravel rock quarry’s edge.  It turns out there are all kinds of lava flows, bake zones and lava holes scattered throughout Sibley as well.

Stop and stare at the basalt rock, and all their unusual shapes.  Geologist Andrew Alden recently pointed out spheroidal weathering.  “To paraphrase an old Grateful Deadhead saying,” said Alden, “the smaller they grow, the rounder they get.”

So head up to Sibley Preserve, for another perspective about your local volcano – those rocks actually tell quite a story.

More info:   Sibley Volcano Regional Preserve ExplorationVoice of the VolcanoBasalt of Sibley VolcanoSibley Volcanic Preserve Sibley Trail Map

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Quick Videos Of Sibley Preserve Mazes

Forget the panoramic views.  When visitors want to record their experiences at Sibley Volcanic Preserve (map), it’s all about the mazes.  Three mazes are easy to find today, with the largest one nestled in the former quarry pit.

There are lovingly-recorded videos, uploaded to YouTube and other sites, which show the quarry maze visits.  Kids are attracted to the maze like bees to honey – and here’s an example where a young girl is having fun while her father chats with her, off-camera.

Sibley Maze Kid

Another video shows the complete maze experience for two adult visitors.  Jacob walks the maze from start to finish, and seems both proud and slightly embarrassed by the taping.  Meanwhile Dan videos the short journey and declares “that was too strange.”

Local druids revere the local mazes and believe that sensitive visitors can “feel the power, the force field, energy, or chi emanating from the dormant volcanic area, and focused within the mazes themselves.”  Here’s a New Age video which celebrates the labyrinth’s aura.

During the rainy season, Mother Nature takes over and a marshy pond develops near the quarry maze.  Check out this video featuring a deafening chorus of frogs that live there.  Or view a little boy discovering these newts swimming in the same area.

If you have never “done the maze,” then take a quick drive to Sibley.  It’s just a short uphill walk along the Volcanic Trail (trail map) – and impossible to miss.

Sibley’s For The Bovines

Because Sibley Volcanic Preserve is just up the road, it’s easy to take human visitors to see the unusual volcanic remains and stellar natural views.

What about celebrating its bovine visitors?  While Bessie and her cousins are grazing there, they make a walk more special any day.

Let’s see how the cows appear as you head up the hills.  Depending on your hiking approach, you may first see the fencing which alerts to the fact that cattle are nearby… but where?

After reading the warning, you enter and close the gate carefully behind you.  There’s no sign of the beasts yet, but you may be lucky enough to run into our iconic California poppies.

Without much fanfare, a single cow or two will finally emerge.  Here’s a snapshot of Bessie, who’s clearly “on watch” and surveying walkers coming up the trail.  Other cows are quietly grazing after you crest the hill.

So while we typically appreciate Sibley’s great natural and Bay Area vistas, we should celebrate the local cows too.  The last time I took a walk, the bovines didn’t greet me – but I expect them to return soon.

Guided Intros To The Parks

Montclarions are split between the walkers and non-walkers.  If you are a non-walker but curious about seeing the trails, then here’s your chance to join a guided introduction.

Stress-free walks are scheduled this weekend and next.  You are even encouraged to bring your kids along, if they are in grade school or older.  Hopefully, the temps will be comfortable while wandering in the trees or on the ridge tops.

First Intro:  Volcanoes, Quarries and Labyrinths – Takes place at Sibley Volcanic Preserve (map) this Sunday, August 3rd, from 1:30 – 4:00pm – Free.

Explore the remnants of an extinct volcano, exposed in places by years of quarrying and decorated by artists building labyrinths.  Keep your eyes skyward for golden eagles. Moderate hike.  For 8+ yrs.  This is a drop in program; no registration is required.  For info, call: (510) 521-6887.

Second Intro:  Up-Down & All-Around Walk – Takes place at Redwood Regional Park (map) next Saturday, August 9th, from 2:30 – 4:30pm – Free.

We’ll hike from the top of the Ridge to the creek and back as we enjoy the redwoods and their varied past. Plan for up and down hill on this somewhat shady walk.  For 6+ yrs.  This is a drop in program; no registration is required.  For info, call: (510) 521-6887.

Third Intro:  Redwoods To the Cosmos – Takes place at Redwood Regional Park and Chabot Observatory (map) next Sunday, August 10th, from 9:00 – 11:00am (Cosmos) or from 1:30 – 2:30pm (Tykes) – Fees.

Earth and sky unite in an outing that is out of this world. High in the hills of Oakland, hike the redwood laced trails to hidden, historic sites. Experience the ecosystem by walking through the beautiful, shady paths of Redwood Regional Park. Then explore the cosmos at Chabot with hands-on interactive exhibits and displays and be amazed how your child’s universe can expand in one excursion!  ‘Redwoods to the Cosmos Hike’  is 8+ yrs, while ‘Little Tyke Family Hike’ is 5+ yrs.  Fees: $5 plus General Admission to Chabot.  For info and registration call: (510) 336-7373.

Sibley Volcanic Preserve Is Art

Today, I decided to display some Sibley Volcanic Preserve imagery.  Sibley is sui generis in the East Bay Parks – and a convenient volcano right in our neighborhood.

Normally I think of Sibley basking in its East Bay glory.  I expect to see amber waves of grain, the volcano and its cool labyrinth, or else the typical views to San Francisco.  We always take visitors to Sibley and hear the oohs and aahs about how lucky we are to live here.

Sibley also inspires photographers to create art.  These images are taken at special moments, such as the spring when the grass is green or on days with amazing sunrises.  Have you ever seen Sibley looking so lovely?