Strawberry Canyon is a wonderful place. It doesn’t offer quite the wide variety of walks as Roberts Recreational Area but it’s beautiful, very convenient to Berkeley and features enough up hill climbing to be a lot of walk in a little time.
Difficulty is moderately challenging – most people and their animals can do it fine, though The Connector (100+ yards, 13% grade) will be a bit of a slog for some.
Strawberry Canyon is a Great Place to Walk
- Hilly enough to give you and your beast a really meaningful walk in 60-90 minutes, but easy enough to be accessible for most people and dogs.
- Beautiful trail with Redwood, Eucalyptus, and (at least at the trail base) wild turkey (no, the birds, not the bottles) and stunning, panoramic bay and city views
- One main trail with some side routes so you will not have to worry about getting lost.
- It’s an out-and-back walk so make it as long or short as you want
- No bicycles or other vehicles allowed (though I did see a mountain bike once)
- Dogs allowed off leash
- Tucked right behind the UC Berkeley stadium, it’s pretty much in the middle of Berkeley
- There are enough other people and dogs around to feel safe and provide some four footed socializing, but never does it feel crowded
- Surprisingly good cell phone reception in most places
Of Course, It’s Not Perfect
- Beautiful though it is, this walk doesn’t have the variety of some of the other Bay Area parks and some points on the trail feel just like a dirt road.
- Parking lot (see below).
- This is definitely a daylight only trail. There are steep, sheer drops off some trail edges. It would be a long way down
- The parking lot is small, rough and often too crowded. Also, in some places the lot surface is tilted off camber, meaning a car door can shut itself so be very sure to hold your car door when loading and unloading.
- You might want to bring water on a hot summer day, especially if you plan on going all the way to the top
- Update 3-23-16: The Strawberry Canyon Lower Parking Lot is temporally closed. The sign said due to seasonal flooding risk. However, I was able to park in the Strawberry Canyon Recreational Center lot with no problem. See Access below for details.
Score: 85% (Would love to give it more, but looses 5 points for parking and 10 points for relative lack of walk options)
The Strawberry Canyon Lower Parking Lot (Google map and directions) on Centennial Drive, between the stadium and botanical gardens, is very convenient and free, though often crowded and a bit crude. It’s also possible to use paid parking in the Strawberry Canyon Recreational Center lot (Google map and directions) and walk via a trail to the Strawberry Canyon trailhead, but I’ve never done it.
Our basic walk is a 90 minute out-and-back, turning around at Marker 33, and this is what I recommend for most people. It’s plenty of walk and you’ll see most of the best parts.
If you want something longer go all the way to the top at Grizzly Boulevard and back. This six point three miles took us close to three hours, but we explored some side trails before heading back to the main trail.
The first mile goes up a relaxed 300 feet. Then you hit The Connector, a thigh-burning hundred plus yards that (if the numbers I pulled of some random running blogs are right) goes up about 80 feet for a very challenging 12-13% grade. After that it’s a slow and gradual climb up to the top, and then of course a nice decent back.
In the parking lot. Mr. Klondike wishes to exit the motor vehicle and commence his constitutional.
Klondike returns from some off-trail exploration
Klondike just loves flying down The Connector on his way back. And by the way, there were no tricks used in making the image above – he really was running that fast, and enjoying every second of it.
Advanced Option – Woodbridge Metcalf Grove
This shortcut is for people who love giant Redwoods (and there’s a lot to love) and don’t mind a steeper and less clear ascent then The Connecter. You’ll come to the below marker about half a mile from the trail head. It will be on your left.
I’ve been saving this for last since it looks a little intimidating but doesn’t matter much – to do this walk all you need to do is stay on the main trail, avoiding small side trails, and you will be fine.
(Click for a larger/zoomable version)