The great thing about Oakland – OK, one of them – is that lush and verdant trails can be found mere minutes away from the frantic urban milieu.
Case in point: Joaquin Miller Park, right off Highway 13, the freeway that links Berkeley to Castro Valley. In less than two minutes, I was off the freeway and transported from a concrete jungle to verdant woods dotted with coastal redwoods, fragrant eucalyptus and stately live oaks and maples shedding leaves as big as DeMarcus Cousins’ hands.
Compared to some other East Bay hiking areas, namely Redwood and Tilden regional parks and Mount Diablo, the 450 lush acres of Joaquin Miller, run by the city of Oakland, are quiet and unassuming, sporting only a few hills to tax your respiratory system. For a relatively small park, there are many trail options. It’s difficult to string together a long trek in Miller without doing multiple routes. But if you cross Skyline Boulevard and take a connector trail to the Moon Gate Staging Area (near Chabot Space and Science Center), you wind up in Redwood Regional Park and can ramble for miles and miles.
Sometimes, though, you just want to do a short, invigorating hike, to get the blood moving and maybe wait out the traffic accumulating on Oakland’s freeways.
Weekend Hike: Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland
Trail length: 3.5 miles
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Directions to trailhead: From Sacramento, take I-80 west to I-680 to Highway 24. Immediately after passing through the Caldecott Tunnel, take Highway 13 south toward Hayward. Take the Joaquin Miller/Lincoln Avenue exit. Turn left on Monterey Boulevard, then left on Joaquin Miller Road. Drive 0.7 of a mile to Sanborn Drive. Turn left into the park.
Route: From the ranger station parking area, walk back down Sanborn Drive to a yellow gate with a trailhead sign. Go 50 feet straight beyond the yellow gate and turn left onto the Sunset Trail. You’ll pass the Sunset Loop and Chaparral Trail junctions and, just before the 1-mile mark, turn right (uphill) on the Cinderella Trail. After 0.5 miles, make a sharp right onto the Sequoia-Bayview Trail. Stay on it for a mile, passing several junctions, and then turn right on the Sunset Trail for a 0.5-mile descent back to the trailhead.
Exposure: Shaded in most parts
Toilets: Yes, at ranger station and just beyond the trailhead