The Inspiration Point loop at Tilden Park is one of my favorite walks. Despite being less than 15 minutes from downtown Berkeley, it feels like the middle of the wilderness. It’s a nice but not super-difficult 90 minute walk. There are usually enough other dogs on the trail to allow for some socialization but never does it feel crowded.
The Inspiration Point Loop at Tilden Park is Great
- A moderate 60-90 minutes, easy enough to be accessible for most people and dogs.
- Beautiful trail with sweeping panoramic views of the park
- Easy to navigate – only three turns and they are clearly marked (see below)
- Dogs allowed off leash
- There are enough other people and dogs around to feel safe and provide some four footed socializing, but never does it feel crowded
- Water is available Lone Oak, a little before the half way point of this short-ish walk, so you shouldn’t need to carry any (unless of course you start at Lone Oak, and then on a really hot day you might want some)
- Cell phone reception on some parts of the trail
- Parking is not an issue
Of Course, It’s Not Perfect
- Beautiful though it is, the Inspiration Point loop doesn’t have some of the amazing city views available elsewhere in the park
- Bicycles are allowed on most of the trail. Typically they aren’t moving very fast and I’ve never had an issue, but would still prefer they weren’t there
Klondike Walk Score: 87%
The loop at Inspiration Point doesn’t have the incredible variety of Roberts Recreation Area or the views of Strawberry Canyon but it’s beautiful, immersive, convenient, a good walk for the person and a wonderful place for a dog to enjoy being a dog. If it weren’t for the (rare) bicycle the score would be at least five points higher.
About The Park
Tilden, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, is a large (2079 acres, to be precise) slice of wilderness, running from the Berkeley Hills area to above Albany, El Cerrito and even East Richmond.
Tilden is truly an amazing place with fantastic views of San Francisco and Mount Diablo, the Anaza River, in which swimming is allowed, tons of trails for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling, a golf course, miniature railroad, Merry-Go-Round, two botanical gardens, one belonging to the park, and the other just down the road belonging to UC Berkeley. Not all of these views are available on the trail, but you can get most of them by stopping at scenic view areas on your way to or from the walk.
Dogs are allowed in most areas of the park and on most trails. Exception: Dogs aren’t allowed in the botanical gardens, and in most of the officially designated Nature Area, marked below on the official Tilden map with a rectangular box. Dogs are allowed off-leash more than 200 from trailheads. Here is a full set of dog rules covering Tilden and all other parks in the East Bay Regional Park District.
Inspiration Point is located on Wildcat Canyon Road. Here is a google link.
Depending on where you are coming from, I urge you to take Centenial or Marin Avenue. Some GPS’s may try to route you via other, smaller streets in the Berkeley Hills. These streets can be extremely narrow and often have cars parked on them forcing you into the left hand lane on blind curves. I’ve done it, but it’s not fun.
The Walk: Inspiration Point Loop
What we call the Inspiration Point Loop starts in the Inspiration Point Parking lot, goes down the Meadows Canyon Trail, at the Lone Oak Picnic Area you go onto Wildcat George Trail and then back up to the Inspiration Point parking area on the Curran Trail. Total length is just under three miles. Meadows Canyon is a (mostly) very gentle downhill and Curran Trail is a steady, but not too steep, 1.4 mile climb up. The total walk, with a little time for sniffing, is just about 90 minutes.
I think just about anyone capable of walking three miles can do this walk. My only caution would be after rains parts of it can get pretty muddy and even a bit slippery.
Of course, one of the greatest things about any of these hikes is making new friends. This is Klondike and his new trail buddy Tango.
While Tango and Klondike played, Tango’s person told me about finding a severed deer leg not too much further down the trail. Probably ripped off by a mountain lion, who ate the rest of the deer elsewhere. Ouch.I’ve also heard of coyote sightings on the trail.