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Crawling Berkeley: The Parks and Recreation Edition

Posted By Diana Newby On Jun 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm In Sandbox,The Specials | Comments Disabled


Edited by Kelly Fang (Multimedia Editor), Justin Ray Abraham (Multimedia Producer) and Brian Butterfield (Multimedia Producer)

We at the Clog are definitely fans of the astonishingly summer-esque weather of late. And what better way to celebrate the sunshine than to run amok in it? Here are a few of our favorite local parks in which to gallivant, ramble and generally make merry.

Tilden Regional Park
Tucked away in the hills running east of Berkeley and Kensington, the massive and fabulous Tilden Park [1] seems a surprisingly well-kept secret given the number of students who have never been. Reasons why we love this hidden treasure:

- Aesthetic: The park is sprawling and beautiful; alternately open fields and wooded trails, tranquil lakes and stunning vistas, all of which are clean and clearly well maintained.
- Accessibility: Tilden’s a bit of a doozy to reach without a car. The 65 and 67 bus lines will get you to where Spruce Street meets Grizzly Peak Boulevard, but from there you have to go on foot and it is not (pun alert) a walk in the park. Unless you plan on backpacking or (for the equally adventurous) ascending the ridiculous mountain that is Spruce via bike, we recommend bumming a ride.
- Diversity of use: With swimming holes, a carousel, plenty of open meadows for sports of any kind, a petting zoo and even a small steam train, the park offers a little bit of everything.
- Additional thoughts: Perhaps our only complaint regards the charge of a couple bucks to swim in Lake Anza. That being said, we should mention that the cliff-diving extravaganza captured in the video was not technically “allowed.” There may or may not have been collective fleeing from an irritated lifeguard. Fair warning.

Cesar Chavez Park
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Image Source: Ricardo Barton

Perched on the peninsula bordering Berkeley Marina to the north, Cesar Chavez is probably best known as the setting for the city’s annual kite festival. Of course, that isn’t all it has to offer …

- Aesthetic: Given that it sits directly on the bay, this park is privy to some spectacular sunsets and an overall breathtaking view. Clogger Ricardo Barton recommends “a picnic as you sit on a table or bench along the edge of the bay listening to the water crash against the rocks.”
- Accessibility: Cesar Chavez is easy to get to by simply biking or driving all the way down University Avenue and hooking a right at the marina. As for public transit, the 51B drops you off at Marina Boulevard, which leaves you with about a ten minute walk into the park.
- Diversity of use: There are barbecue pits, picnic tables and paths for biking or running. It isn’t ideal for many sports, due to the hilly, patchy terrain. It is, however, perfect for dogs.
- Additional thoughts: Due to location, Cesar Chavez can be subject to some serious wind chill, so we suggest you bring a jacket. Moreover, there isn’t a lot of shade, meaning sunscreen might be a good call as well. Oh, and bring a camera. You’ll want it for moments like this:

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Image Source: Ricardo Barton

Ohlone Park
If you’re looking for a park with more function than flair, Ohlone is the place to go:

2011-06-25 15.51.40- Aesthetic: It’s certainly no Tilden, but Ohlone is everything you can reasonably expect from a prototypical neighborhood park — neatly manicured lawns, a reasonable number of trees and quiet suburbia bordering every side.
- Accessibility: Ohlone Park spans Hearst Avenue along the four or so blocks between MLK Jr Way and Sacramento Street; and the Ohlone Greenway, a bike-slash-foot path that runs its entire length, takes you across Sacramento, around North Berkeley BART and all the way to Cedar Rose Park at (you guessed it) the intersection of Cedar and Rose Streets.
- Diversity of use: Like we said, this is about as park-y as it gets: basketball court, volleyball net, baseball and soccer fields, swing set, jungle gyms, two wide-eyed and mildly creepy plastic zebras for the riding purposes of kids and/or inebriated adults, and even a community garden. What more could you want in life?
- Additional thoughts: Ohlone has nothing even remotely resembling a bathroom — not even in the form of adequately concealing bushes — which we discovered to our very great dismay. In case of emergency, head to Trader Joe’s.

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Image Source: Diana Newby

Grove Park
Further in the way of functionality, we give you this:

- Aesthetic: Although not quite so easy on the eyes as even Ohlone Park, being simply a one-block-by-one-block square, Grove is still located in a pleasant part of town.
- Accessibility: Said location is at the corner of MLK Jr Way and Russell Street — right around the corner from Ashby BART and a breeze to reach via car, bike, the F line or the 18.
- Diversity of use: Here’s another park that’s perfect for the sport-playing types. You’ll find three tennis courts, two full basketball courts and one half court, a large field that includes a baseball diamond, and a big playground with swings.
- Additional thoughts: Clogger Kevan Rolfness recommends: “On the weekend, check out the Ashby BART flea market, head over to Berkeley Bowl for picnic treats, and head over to Grove Park and chill in the grass. Get out of the Berkeley campus bubble!”

John Hinkel Park

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Image Source: Diana Newby

Speaking of that campus bubble, one of our favorite means of escape is this magical retreat in the Berkeley hills:

- Aesthetic: John Hinkel is a small slice of woodland paradise. Quiet and overgrown with a thick carpet of ivy and a canopy of gnarled old trees, winding stone staircases and a huge stone fireplace built into the hill, this park feels ancient and full of secrets … although that might just mean a lot of bugs.
- Accessibility: No lie, it is a dirty bitch to find if you don’t know exactly where to go. So, to spare you the profanity-filled drive to which this Clogger subjected her poor passenger, we present you with Google Maps [2]. You’re welcome.
- Diversity of use: In addition to swings, a slide and the first see-saw we’ve laid eyes on in something like 13 years, John Hinkel houses a really nifty quasi-natural amphitheater in which you can vaguely discern people rehearsing some kind of crazy something-or-other in the picture above. We wanted to get closer, but it sounded like they were summoning Beelzebub. While playing a tuba. Yeah.
- Additional thoughts: In fact, the first time we visited John Hinkel Park, it was with Cheeseboard and vino permitted beverages in hand to watch a production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Best. Thing. Ever.

Willard Park
For all you Southsiders looking for a nearby park that isn’t People’s, problem solved:

- Aesthetic: An ideal blend of shaded spots and open space, Willard is, as Clogger Jillian Wertheim phrased it, a hot-spot for both “bikini-clad co-eds working on their tans” and “groups of new mothers to sit while their toddlers squirm around together.”
- Accessibility: For many of you, it’s practically right in your backyard, on the corner of Derby Street and Hillegass Avenue. Get there on foot, by bike or car. Believe you us, it isn’t far (oh snap!).
- Diversity of use: There’s a playground for kids or students looking to burn off steam in unconventional ways (we’ve been there, we don’t judge), public tennis courts and, like we said, plenty of lawn to toss a Frisbee, kick around a soccer ball or just soak up some rays.
- Additional thoughts: Although Willard is relatively homeless-free, Jillian pointed out that “proximity to People’s Park and the general Telegraph Avenue area does mean that a few will wander through occasionally, frightening children and nervous young adults.” Nevertheless, we think you will survive.

And while we’re on the subject:

Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center (aka the Peace Wall) Park
Quoth Ricardo Barton: “Sometimes seems like a ‘People’s Park Jr.’”

‘Nuff said.

Codornices Park

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Images Source: Christina Kowalski

These pictures kind of speak for themselves, in that they are basically the most wonderful things in life, but we’ll still give you our two cents on Codornices Park:

- Aesthetic: Does charming beyond reason sum it up? Christina Kowalski of le Clog described it in such terms as “beautiful” and “verdant” and took particular note of “the lovely brook running through the front of the park.” We’re melting a bit just thinking about it.
- Accessibility: Located directly across the street from Berkeley Rose Gardens on Euclid Avenue, Codornices is about a ten minute walk from the north side of campus; and the 65 line takes you right past it.
- Diversity of use: Replete with sports fields of various sorts, a playground and an abundance of open meadow, the park is perhaps most renowned for its enormous stone slide (pictured bottom-right) that, according to Christina, “sees more than children sliding down it on a piece of cardboard.”
- Additional thoughts: We can haz live here plz.

The Clog Adventures: Tilden Park [YouTube [3]]
Earlier: Where Museums Aren’t Just for Exhibits [4]


Article printed from The Daily Clog: http://clog.dailycal.org

URL to article: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/06/27/crawling-berkeley-parks-and-recreation-edition/

URLs in this post:

[1] Tilden Park: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden

[2] Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/

[3] YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgxf58oGqA0&feature=player_embedded

[4] Where Museums Aren’t Just for Exhibits: http://clog.dailycal.org/2010/04/17/crawling-berkeley-where-museums-arent-just-for-exhibits/

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