Tilden Park's Nimitz Way leads to spectacular views
What youll see: Spring rains followed by a warm April sun have turned Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley hills into something that resembles the Land of Oz. Emerald-green hills span for miles. Nimitz Way is like the Yellow Brick Road. Your payoff is not a guy standing behind a curtain, but a 360-degree view across the bay and foothills. You can spot landmarks in every direction.
This weekend: South Park Drive, a road in the parks interior that connects Grizzly Peak Boulevard to Wildcat Canyon Road, was reopened this week. It provides access to several picnic sites and trailheads. It was closed for five months to protect migrating newts.
Nimitz Way: You are rewarded whether you walk (or ride) five minutes or five hours, or whether you are making your first visit or your 100th. In the first five minutes, you will reach a bench with a gorgeous view to the west over Meadows Canyon and across the hills to the bay. The trail is paved for 4.1 miles and then turns to dirt and arrives at a gate. Continue ahead, then trek to the top of one of the hills for a panorama of San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay and silhouettes of distant peaks.
On-the-spot note: Nimitz Way is paved with a center divider, with space on the shoulder, to accommodate all users. Mile markers are posted for joggers. What I do is ride a mountain bike past the gate and into Wildcat Regional Park (5 miles), then drop the bike and hike to a hilltop for a view. One of the best bike-and-hikes in the Bay Area.
Surprise grove: When you depart from Inspiration Point, look for the small grove of conifers on the left. Then look closer. Yep, they are giant sequoias.
Park attractions: Lake Anza (picnics, swimming, fishing), outstanding picnic sites (including for groups), East Bay Skyline National Trail, botanic garden, steam train, golf course.
Cost: Parking, access free.
Map/brochure: At trailhead; PDF at www.ebparks.org.
Contacts: Tilden Region Park, (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4562; www.ebparks.org.
How to get there: From San Francisco, take the Bay Bridge east for 6.4 miles to the split and Highway 580. Bear right on 580 and go 1.5 miles to exit for Highway 24. Take Highway 24 and go seven miles (through tunnel) to Orinda and Exit 9/Moraga. Take that exit to stop light at Camino Pablo. Turn left on Camino Pablo and go 2.3 miles to Wildcat Canyon Road. Turn left and go 2.4 miles to Inspiration Point and parking on the right. From Walnut Creek, take Highway 24 west for 8.1 miles to Orinda and the exit for Camino Pablo Road. Take that exit, merge north on Camino Pablo Road and drive 2 miles to Wildcat Canyon Road. Turn left and drive 2.4 miles to Inspiration Point and parking on the right. Note: Many GPS units will try to guide you through Berkeley city streets; fewer miles but more time.
Parking note: This parking lot often fills on weekend afternoons, but spots often become available without long waits.
Public transit: www.Transit.511.org.
Distances: 12 miles from Walnut Creek, 21 miles from San Francisco, Hayward and Vallejo, 27 miles from Sausalito, 35 miles from San Mateo, 40 miles from Fremont.
- Tom Stienstra