Walk Report: Strawberry Canyon

 

Vista

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).

Important Notes

  • 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)

Access

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.

IMG_9181
The Strawberry Canyon parking lot. Confusing signs aside it is legal for the general public to park there except during game days. Just be careful.. it’s small, rough and tilted off camber in places.

 

Our Walk

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.

IMG_9183

In the parking lot. Mr. Klondike wishes to exit the motor vehicle and commence his constitutional.

Start of Strawberry Canyon Hike
Head up to the the trailhead, which is parallel to Centennial Drive
IMG_8956
Our walk starts here at the trail head
091231-02-Lower-Jordan-trailhead-on-Centennial
Another shot of the trail head
In Strawberry Creek
The first part of the trail follows, but is above, Strawberry Creek, where Klondike loves to cool off on the way back
Woodridge groove crude shot
Sometime around the first half mile you’ll pass Woodbridge Metcalf Grove, a forest of giant Redwood trees planted by students in 1926. It’s a great picnic spot and an advance side trail. More later.
looking up the connector
Taking a break on The Connector
Sniffing along the trail
Important trail sniffing (is there any other kind?)

returnin from off trail exploration

Klondike returns from some off-trail exploration

Marker 33
Marker 33 – turn around here and you’ll have about a 90 minute round trip. You will also have seen not all but most of the best parts. We usually hit Marker 33 in about 50 minutes.

 

The Bench
This is called Then Bench and is somewhat beyond Marker 33. Trail runners often use it as a marker/turn-around point.

giphy (1)

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.

Dirty finish, bike
Tired, dirty, happy dog at the end of his walk

 

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.

090711-18-Woodbridge-Metcale-[sic]-Grove-sign-small
Follow the trail behind the Woodbridge Metcalf Grove sign, ignoring the typo in Metcalf. Also probably ignore any picnicking couples looking for privacy. Which can be harder when Klondike goes over, introduces himself and asks what they might have in their baskets.
090528-44-central-log-in-Woodbridge-Metcalf-redwoods-small
Follow the trail to the right. You’ll need to sort of guess and pick through it, but so long as you are heading up hill and right-ish you are OK.
110407-07-too-steep-exit-from-Metcalf-grove-to-Upper-Jordan-small
The trail will connect to the Upper Jordan Fire Road (piece of Strawberry Canyon trail above The Connector). It does this in a bunch of places so if one feels too steep (like in the photo above), just find another.

 

Map

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.

Map with directions

(Click for a larger/zoomable version)

 

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6 thoughts on “Walk Report: Strawberry Canyon

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