In the hills above Oakland and Berkeley, Tilden is one of the most popular weekend destinations for families, picnickers, dog owners, flower lovers, hikers, mountain bikers, and golfers. Inside the Tilden Nature Area, parents will find a fun, interactive environmental education center designed for kids, who love petting and feeding the farm animals who live next door. From late spring through early fall, you can go swimming in Lake Anza (a small fee is charged). A showcase for native California plants, the park’s botanical garden is open year-round.
There are so many great hiking trails in Tilden that it’s hard to decide which one(s) to choose. One of my favorite loops starts inside the nature area and climbs to the top of Wildcat Peak, which offers 360-degree views that sweep across San Francisco Bay on clear days. After following the Bay Area Ridge Trail east from Wildcat Peak, turn right and descend through Laurel Canyon to get back to the environmental education center. It’s about a four-mile hike with moderate elevation gains and losses.
Check the park’s online events calendar for many more activities, anything from fly-fishing lessons to bird-watching walks. Also check the park website for current schedules for the merry-go-round and pint-sized train rides.
It’s easiest to drive. On weekends, AC Transit bus 67 picks up passengers at the Downtown Berkeley BART station and travels in a loop around some of the attractions inside Tilden Regional Park, including the Brazilian Building, the merry-go-round, and the parking lot for the nature area’s environmental education center. On weekdays, the bus stops outside the park entrance, from where it’s a much longer walk to any of the attractions or trailheads. For more Transportation details see Oakland and Around (in the yellow bar).