Tilden Regional Park
View of San Francisco from the Seaview Trail
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.
Berkeley has a remarkably good selection of restaurants. Especially memorable are the many small mom-and-pop shops that serve unusual varieties of ethnic cuisine.
- The legendary Vik's Chaat Corner is like the Indian equivalent of a really good hamburger joint. Chaat is only available on weekends; the weekday menu is limited and not as good. The lamb baida roti, aloo paratha, chicken kathi kabob, vegetable kabob, or pav bhaji make especially good trail snacks.
- Jayakarta Restaurant is an outstanding and really popular Indonesian restaurant. It's hearty, flavorful, and satisfying, a bit like Thai food but definitely with its own unique style. Not everything is good but I like the beef rendang, ayam panggang, cah kangkung (water spinach, not available in winter), nasi bungkus (weekends only), and empek-empek palambang.
- Berkeley has a lot of Tibetan restaurants, but only two of them mainly serve Tibetan (as opposed to Indian) food; of these, Cafe Tibet is the best. The food has a fresh, home-cooked taste and is generally very light. This quiet little restaurant is somewhat overshadowed by the busy, boisterous Jayakarta two doors away.
- Da Nang Krungthep (Muang Thai) is a Thai and Vietnamese restaurant near Albany Hill. This hole-in-the-wall serves food with remarkably big, robust flavors. The curries aren't that good, but the other Thai dishes are. I haven't tried the Vietnamese dishes. Yelp
- Wat Mangkolratanaram is a Thai temple that serves a ridiculously popular lunch on Sundays. The food is really good and is served in outdoor tents, giving the event a festival-like atmosphere. Open Sundays 10 am - 1 pm. Yelp
- The Cheese Board has great scones, cheese rolls, and pizza. It's always jammed and everything's sold out by noon. Oakland's Arizmendi is a Cheese Board spinoff that's equally good and has a bigger variety of items.
View of San Pablo Reservoir from the Seaview Trail
© 2013 David Baselt