Tag Archives: Berkeley

Making Friends and Assessing Storm Damage at Strawberry Canyon

Strawberry Canyon 2-19-17


Strawberry Canyon is a great walk, a beautiful view, good exercise, and less than twenty minutes from the house. But for some reason, we hadn’t visited since it started raining heavily in October. OK, that reason was a very steep section that bipedal members of the Bill-Klondike team didn’t feel like dealing with when covered with mud. But still, four months is way too long without a visit, so Klondike and I took advantage of a ‘paws’ between showers to show up yesterday.


Perhaps because he hadn’t been there for a while, perhaps because the cool air and light sprinkle may have reminded him of his ancestral home in the Pyreneese mountains, Klondike was in a fine mood, brimming with energy.

Strawberry Canyon 2-19-17

There were tons of fallen trees along the trail, victims of prolonged drought and then torrential rains.

Strawberry Canyon 2-19-17

An underappreciated benefit of these rains is the opportunity for Klondike to put on black fashion socks (which can also decorate the interior of the car and house), and me to appreciate my waterproof hiking boots.

Of course, one of the best parts of these walks is making new friends. Klondike has high standards and only hangs out with the really cool dogs, but Willow, a nine-month-old puppy, clearly made the cut. Enjoy!


Strawberry Canyon, February 19, 2017.

Walk Report: Tilden Park Inspiration Point Loop – Orinda, CA

Resting on the Meadow Canyon Trail

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.

Tilden map
Click For Full Sized Map


Getting There

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

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.

Inspiratin Point Parking Lot
This is the entrance to the Inspiration Point parking lot. If the parking lot is full it’s OK to park on the street to either side of the entrance.  Inspiration point has bathrooms but, surprisingly, no drinking water. There is a large map in the middle of the parking area with a box at the bottom containing trail maps.


Trailhead (1)
Here’s the entrance to the trailhead. The paved path on the right is the Nimitz Trail. It’s  four miles  and ends right above El Sobrante. Not a bad walk. The good news is that  it’s paved the whole way so there is no mud. the bad news is that since it’s paved there are a fair number of bikes, often going pretty fast. Not what we’re doing today.
Klondike and I take a hard left after the gate, which will bring us down a little hill and before long to this fork…
This is a close-up of the fork above. A right turn here puts us on the Meadows Canyon Trail, setting us up for the counterclockwise route we usually take. However, you could also go straight and get on the Curran Trail, doing the same loop clockwise. We prefer going down Meadows Canyon and up Curran since Curran is a little steeper and, especially when there’s mud, easier to slip on.
And speaking of mud, this is Meadow Canyon about a week after a rain storm. Klondike didn’t seem to mind, but my boots got caked.


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.

In maybe thirty minutes of walking you’ll hit the Lone Oak parking lot/picnic area.
Klondike at fountain
You’ll find restrooms and water at Lone Oak
Currant Trail sign
With your back to the parking lot, you’ll see the trail making a 180 degree left hand turn. That’s where it becomes Wildcat Gorge Trail.
Like I say, Wildcat Gorge Trail is well marked, you won’t have a problem, and you’ll see the creek on your right
IMG_1123 (1)
Really, well marked
Klondike laughing at No Dogs In Creek sign. But in a respectful way.
On the Wildcat Canyon trail
Wildcat Canyon Trail Mud
I guess wet weather isn’t all bad…
This is the only place where it’s even remotely tricky. You want to turn left onto the Curran Trail. 


Currant Trail
The Curran Trail left turn is clearly marked, but I still managed to miss it the first time I did this walk. I blame global warming. Or possibly the Silver Surfer.
IMG_1109 (1)
This is a shot of the Curran Trail and the steepest climb of the walk. It’s not nearly as bad as it looks.
Taking a break on the Curran Trail
Nearing the end of the walk
Back to the trail head (1)
And we are back at the Inspiration Point trailhead, the parking lot is a 2-3 minute walk on our right