Tilden is one of the East Bay's oldest parks, and it remains one of the best. Its unique variegated look — hilly meadows streaked with many kinds of woodland — and its genteel, civilized notion of nature perfectly complement the opulent Craftsman-style neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills. Tilden isn't so much a place for hiking as it is for extended nature walks.
The central corridor of the park is a highly-developed canyon with numerous picnic areas, a swimming lake, a nature center, a childrens' farm, and a golf course. A dense network of trails climbs into the remarkably scenic hills above the canyon, offering views of San Francisco and San Pablo Reservoir.
Tilden's trails connect with the larger Wildcat Canyon Regional Park to the north. It's surprising how quickly the landscape changes as you cross the park boundary; Wildcat Canyon has a rather severe look, without the attractive stands of trees or any of the sheltered, civilized feel of Tilden.
** Wildcat Peak (3.9 miles, 750 ft)
This hike starts at Tilden's busy visitor center and climbs to a little peak with great views over Tilden Park and the East Bay. The wooded descent ends at the Little Farm.
*** The Seaview Trail (3.6 miles, 850 ft)
The popular Seaview Trail also leads to a peak with great views. The trail is more open than the Wildcat Peak loop and it's mostly on dirt roads.
** Tilden Regional Park and Briones Reservoir (11.1 miles, 1500 ft)
This epic hike starts in Tilden Park, climbs over Wildcat Peak, runs along the shore of Briones Reservoir, and then climbs back to Tilden Park. Along the way are great views and a lot of variety. Requires an EBMUD permit.
© 2013 David Baselt