Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley
Tilden Regional Park, also known as "Tilden" , is a 2079 acre regional park in the East Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Area in California. It is situated between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge.
Tilden Regional Park was named in honor of Charles Lee Tilden, a Bay Area attorney and businessman who purchased much of the land in order to preserve remaining wilderness areas for public enjoyment. Tilden also served on the first Board of Directors of the East Bay Regional Park District.
The park is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District, created from the first land the district purchased in 1936. It is largely located within unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. An AC Transit bus from the Berkeley BART station runs into the park on weekends. Its steep valleys and dense stands of timber offer a rare wilderness experience so close to the city. Its high ridges and peaks give wide views over the San Francisco Bay and inland across other preserved land to Mount Diablo.
The park contains numerous trails, providing facilities for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling. In addition to major areas of wilderness, the park includes attractions such as a model farm, an environmental educational building, a golf course, a ridable miniature steam railway, and the Regional Parks Botanic Garden. Another noteworthy attraction is the old-fashioned Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round. It is a true antique and one of the few left in the US.
One trail of note is Nimitz Way, a four-mile-long (6 km) paved trail (named after Admiral Chester W. Nimitz) that begins at Inspiration Point on the eastern edge of the park and heads north along the ridge of the hills, crossing into Wildcat Canyon Regional Park about two miles (3 km) in and ending at a peak above El Sobrante. Nimitz Way is very popular with hikers, runners and bicyclists, in part because it is paved and not very steep. From Nimitz Way there are excellent views of the San Francisco Bay to the west, EBMUD’s San Pablo & Briones Reservoirs, along with Mt. Diablo to the east. Unknown to most of the folks who travel this trail, the two-mile section that is in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park was a Nike missile base which was decommissioned in the 1970s. Today there are few signs of the missile silos and military housing that used to populate these hills.
Land and water features
Much of Tilden Regional Park is situated in the upper stretches of Wildcat Canyon which is also the location of Lake Anza. Lake Anza is about 300 m long, and the water is somewhat clear. The lake is a good place to go swimming as well as other activities. Jewel Lake, smaller than Anza, is accessible only by trail.
The eastern limit of the park is approximately at the crest of the San Pablo Ridge. The western boundary nearly follows the crest of the Berkeley Hills. The East Bay Skyline National Trail runs just inside the park.
Parts of the park land had been cleared for agricultural use. In many places, exotic trees such as Eucalyptus), have been planted. There are also some relatively recently planted stands of Giant Sequoia. However, current conservation efforts are aimed at restoring native vegetation so far as possible, and significant parts of the park are covered in native coastal scrub. The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is located within Tilden, and features rare and endangered California flora.
During the 1930s, a WPA camp was situated in Tilden Park.
Tilden Regional Park offers a range of hiking trails most of which are dog-friendly. Dogs are not permitted in the Tilden Nature Area to the north of the park. Some of the main trails (in addition to Nimitz Way) include:
Meadows Canyon-Curran-Wildcat Canyon loop - A 1.43 mile steady, but not steep, climb from Lone Oak Road which is just off Central Park Dr. At the top, Meadows Canyon connects with Curran trail which meanders downhill to Wildcat Gorge trail. To the left, it is a short walk to Lake Anza. To the right, the trail returns to take a right on Wildcat Gorge trail, it returns to the Lone Oak parking area. The total distance is a little under 3 miles.
East Bay Skyline Ridge Trail (or Seaview Trail) - This trail provides views of San Francisco Bay to the West and Mt. Diablo to the East. It can be an out-and-back from the parking lot near the Steam Trains off of Grizzly Peak Blvd. accessed via Seaview Trail or from the opposite end off of Wildcat Canyon Road's Quarry parking area via Seaview Trail. It is approximately 2.7 miles end-to-end.
South Park Drive - The road that runs between Wildcat Canyon Road at the Botanic Gardens to Grizzly Peak Blvd. closes from 1 November to 31 March annually to protect the migration process for a Newt. It is available for hiking.
Tilden Regional Park offers two group campsites: New Woodland with a capacity of 50 people and Wildcat View with a capacity of 75. Both are accessed off of Lone Oak Road.
- Tilden Park Trail Map-North
- Tilden Park Trail Map-South
- Tilden Park Nature Area Map
- Tilden Nature Area Bird Checklist
- Tilden Park info page at East Bay Regional Parks site
- Tilden Park map Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau