Berkeley Rocks Urban Hike, Berkeley, California

 

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Rocks are fascinating! They tell stories of our earth's history in a way not many other things can. I read about this hike in Bay Nature regarding these ancient volcanic rocks from 11.5 million years ago from an area just south of San Jose. These rocks were carried north about 50 miles to its current Iocation in Berkeley as the continental plates moved past each other.  There are several city parks that contain these volcanic rocks in the Berkeley area. We hiked a loop starting at Remillard Park, to Cragmont Rock Park, to Mortar Rock to John Hinkel Park then to Grotto Rock. Our total distance including accidental detours was 3.7 miles.

140 million year old Pinnacle Rock at Remillard Park, Berkeley, California

140 million year old Pinnacle Rock at Remillard Park, Berkeley, California

 

Our first park and parking spot was at Remillard Park, with very limited street parking. Parking wasn't a problem since we were the only ones at the park. This park had a playground which was a welcome surprise for my boys. Just before the playground stood the giant volcanic rock and some picnic tables in front of it.  These rocks, unlike the other parks are not volcanic, they come from deep in the Earth's mantlle, forming about 140 million years ago. We spent about 15-20 minutes letting the boys have a go at the slides while I admired the rocks. Then we walked along the sidewalk towards Cragmont Park.

Pinnacle Lane, just off Remillard Park, Berkeley, California

Pinnacle Lane, just off Remillard Park, Berkeley, California

 

Happily we found a small pathway (called Pinnacle Lane) that took us down the hill between houses by a tile wall mural. At the bottom of Pinnacle Lane, we should have turned right to get to Cragmont Park, but we accidentally detoured left. This mistake brought us to another Lane, called Easter Lane, starting at Euclid Road.  Easter Lane took us to the doorstep of Cragmont Rock Park. We walked up towards the shaded picnic area, and found a beautiful view of the bay beside it. Directly adjacent to the shaded picnic area, we found a foot trail that went down the hill. The boys found some easy rock scrambling down the hill to a green area. We continued down the path, which encircled Cragmont Park, finding a few large rocks to our left where climbers were climbing. The boys enjoyed the unplanned excursion - it was a mini adventure for them and a chance for a self-led hike.

 

We saw climbers climb at Cragmont Rock Park, Berkeley, California

Rocks at Cragmont Rock Park, Berkeley, California

 

Afterwards, we made our way back down Easter Lane and down Marin Road (it had a sidewalk on a fairly busy neighbourhood street). My husband is not a fan of neighbourhood hiking, I found out. Luckily, just around the bend, Mortar Rock showed up. We found some stairs cut into the rocks to get to the top of the rock. We were hoping for a view, but a few trees blocked our view. There are some steep dropoffs here, so we quickly made our way down to find climbers preparing to climb the other side of the rock. A small trail led us into a green moss-covered huge rock. My husband, who again voiced his dislike for urban hiking, led us towards Hinkel Park. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that we did not make it to Indian Rock. I had thought Mortar Rock was Indian Rock. There will always be next time. 

Steps sculpted into the rock at Mortar Rock, Berkeley, California

Steps sculpted into the rock at Mortar Rock, Berkeley, California

One of many walkways in Hinkel Park, Berkeley California

One of many walkways in Hinkel Park, Berkeley California

 

Hinkel Park is a nice walk-through park with many walkways of different levels. The walkways meander under tall shading oak trees. We got to the other side of the park, after getting our fill on the meandering walkways. Lucky for us, there was another cozy lane, Upton Lane, that provided a nice bamboo-tree-lined short-cut to the street uphill.

Bamboo-lined Upton Lane, Berkeley California

Bamboo-lined Upton Lane, Berkeley California

 

From that street uphill, we continued ahead to Grotto Rock. Once again, this is a small park with a huge jutting rock amongst houses. The walkway to the right took us up some stairs sculpted into the rock to a small rock bench. From this bench, we looked over rooftops towards an amazing view of the entire Bay. We looked on as the Bay Bridge made it's way to Treasure Island, and beyond into the city, while Golden Gate Bridge gated off the bay from the ocean. Grotto Rock was also the quietest of all the parks we visited on this hike-we were the only ones there. There are some steep dropoffs here, so our visit here was short as well, as the boys channelled their energy to their legs.  

Grotto Rock, Berkeley, California

Grotto Rock, Berkeley, California

Views from the top of Grotto Rock, Berkeley California

Views of the Bay from the top of Grotto Rock, Berkeley California

 

After Grotto Rock we made our way back to the car at Remillard Park. If I were to do it over,, I would go the extra half mile to Indian Rock. I hear there are shops close to Indian Rock Park near Solano Ave and The Alameda. Nevertheless, we (excluding my urban hike protester) had a good time enjoying the rocks, the views and the cozy lanes.  More rocky parks in the area: Contra Costa Rock and Great Stone Face Rock. Bay Nature also has a hike similar to the one we did, but encompassing more parks.  We made some changes to accommodate our protesting urban hiker.

 

Practical Information (as of December 2016):

Directions: We started and ended our loop at Remillard Park address:  

Our Hike: 3.7 miles, slight uphill, 600-700 feet elevation change.

Features: Ancient volcanic rock fragments, views of the San Francisco Bay, and cozy lanes that make great short-cuts between neighbourhood streets

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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