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Shannon A.
Into the North Berkeley Hills 
17th-Nov-2012 08:38 pm

No gaming today, so I opted to have lunch out then venture into the North Berkeley hills. It was a blustery day, grey and lightly drizzling, so I didn't bring any Designers & Dragons work with me. Instead I just got to enjoy being out and about.

My immediate goal was Cordonices Park. I've been there many a time, but I've never seen it as empty as it was today (though the rain had mostly stopped by then, turning into occasional mist that I'd see throughout the rest of the trip). That was kind of cool because it meant I got to ride my bike around the park a bit on the blacktop trails (though there aren't a lot of this). After enjoying a burbling brook for a while, I headed on.

On my map, I'd found some parks I'd never been to north and upward of Cordonices, so I headed to those. 

Next on my list was Cragmont Park, which I got to by walking up one of the many paths in the Berkeley Hills, Easter Way. It's got a cool little covered outdoor area that has a magnificent view of the Bay. I looked out from there for a while, enjoying the sunlight and shadow that played over the Bay due to the storm clouds overhead. Around me a group of people dressed in climbing gear talked about how to save people, which was weird. Some type of class, but I dunno why Cragmont Park was the place for it, as I didn't see anywhere in particular to climb. 

I biked up and around from there until I got to Remillard Park. I don't know entirely what to make it as it's almost entirely defined by three paths which form a triangle. Within them it's really wild, but there's also some houses there(!). In any case, I biked up to the easternmost path, which ran across the top of the park (as lateral paths are much more interesting than stairs when you're hauling a bike along). It was very cool because it felt like I was cutting through a rain forest or something. That feel was probably helped by the wisps of fog than ran through everything, as I'd by now made my way up into the clouds overhanging Berkeley. (Things got damper as a result, though even the light drizzle had stopped by now.)

Up in the northeast corner of the park, I found the onemore  park-like area. A playground and a totally cool-looking rock, apparently called Pinnacle Rock. It reminds me of Indian Rock (nearby) but isn't nearly as accessible. Apparently people do rock climb there though. Maybe that's where the search-and-rescue people from Cragmont were headed.

After that I headed further up into the hills. Every once in a while the sunlight would catch up with me, as the day slowly pushed back the clouds from the Bay, but then I'd go up further and be back into the clouds. I briefly stopped at Grizzly Peak Park, which was a disappointment as it was pretty much a slide and a basketball court. Ate a brownie there though. 

As I headed further up, I suddenly saw signs heading down into Tilden Park. Wowza, I hadn't realized I was quite that high. I certainly would have headed there if it was a day that I could have sat out and read and worked, but instead I went up Hill Road. It turned out to be quite steep — which the name should have told me — but it had gorgeous views down into the Bay. I'd love to go up there on some clear day, as today I was now so far up in the clouds that I couldn't even seen much Bay. My goal was another lateral path, the Scott Newhall Path. Not too impressive, as it turns out, as it was just a dirt (mud) path with no particular views. Cool houses on the other side, though, including a neat stone wall. (But there were lots of cool houses up in the Hills; it was one of the joys of the trip.)

From there I headed southward, passing around the south end of Tilden Park. I was really tempted to head in there, as it led to the mysterious south end of Tilden Park that I'd never been to. Instead I continued on to the Lawrence Hall of Science. That offered up the most gorgeous view of the day, a complete vista of the Bay. I gawked there for a while, took some pictures, then took the road rather rapidly downward (to Trader Joes and eventually home).

Overall a fun adventure. Good to see there's still so many new places to explore just here in Berkeley. Total ride was only about 11 miles, however I got up to above 1000 feet, putting it as one my biggest climbs in the hills. Not too hard either, though I did walk a block here and there (including Hill Road!). Lots of fun, and the overcast, gray, and clouds just made it that much cooler.

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