Tilden Regional Park — Quarry/Big Springs/Seaview Trail

Date Hiked: 10/5/13
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Best Season: Any time with a clear view

Can you smell it in the air? Hot apple cider, crispy leaves, and pumpkins — it’s October, and it’s my favorite month and time of the year. Halloween is right around the corner, followed by the feast of Thanksgiving, and then the festivities of the holiday season. October fills me with anticipation for the best time of the year and fills my little apartment with the comforting scent of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which we enjoyed on our Saturday jaunt to Tilden Regional Park.

Despite being a festive and fun season, life can get pretty hectic this time of the year — some of the crew are back in school, while others are working on important applications, studying for big exams, or just getting caught up in the hubbub of life. That’s why on Saturday, when some respite was much needed, we opted for a more abbreviated excursion to qualm our frayed nerves. Tilden Regional Park was the easy choice, since it is conveniently located in our alma mater’s back yard in the Berkeley Hills, and it did not disappoint.

Trail Summary: 1. Begin at the Quarry Trailhead, and hike on the Quarry Trail until reaching a four-way intersection with the Big Springs Trail. 2. Turn right and head up hill onto Big Springs for about three-quarters of a mile where you’ll come across a small parking lot. 3. Cross the lot and continue on Big Springs for another two thirds of a mile. 4. At the intersection with the Seaview/Skyline Trail, turn left and follow Seaview for a mile and a half to the view point, then back down to the Quarry Trailhead.

Tilden - Map

Our stroll began a bit past five o’ clock off Wildcat Canyon Road at the Quarry Trailhead where we saw this little guy:

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LIZARD!!

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Dusk is my favorite time of day — the lighting just creates the perfect, peaceful ambiance. The beginning of this loop takes you through quietly wooded patches where you can enjoy the faint scent of eucalyptus in the air and sunlight filtering through a tangle of branches and foliage.

Fact: The green pigment you see in leaves during spring and summer is called chlorophyll — it’s involved in the leaves’ production of food from water and sunlight. As the days shorten in the fall and there is not enough sunlight or water to produce food, the leaves rest and live off nutrients produced throughout the summer. At this point, the chlorophyll breaks down, and the leaves adorn their autumnal, red and golden garb. For the record, Lisa, in her intuitive ways, guessed this to be the reason for the fall change, and James, in his wise ways, confirmed this to be true. Yea, SCIENCE!

Continuing on the Quarry Trail, we reached the aforementioned four-way junction with the Big Springs Trail where we turned right and headed uphill (onto the Big Springs Trail).

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I always have to include a shot of the crew passionately discussing something! Directions, maybe?

Towards the end of the Big Springs Trail, the climb gets a bit steeper, but not by much. It’s well worth it when you reach the Seaview Trail junction because you’ll get some amazing views from up on the ridge.

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Can you really beat these sun kissed, grassy hills at dusk? This was our view of the San Pablo Dam Reservoir immediately after turning onto Seaview.

This portion of the trail immediately offers spectacular views to the East and, further along, to the West. Making our way along and trying to get to the peak of the hill before sunset, we reached a bench with what we thought was The Spot, but James, in his infinite wisdom, ushered us along a bit further where we found The Actual Spot.

Here, about twenty minutes before sunset, we found two benches along with a picnic table where we unloaded our snacks and sat back in awe of the perfect Bay Area sunset ahead of us.

Tilden - Venus and Sunset
Check this out: James pointed out Venus in the sky, and my iPhone surprisingly captured a fantastic shot of it! Venus appears brighter in the photo than it did in reality, and every time I look at this, I think it’s a mini-moon!

I think on every, single hike, we reflect upon how lucky we are to live here amongst amazing hikes and views and the best of friends.

Tilden - Group Sunset Panorama
Awww, friends4eva. Jarrett captured this scene with the iPhone panorama feature. From this point, we were able to see four of the five major Bay Area bridges, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.

The weather on Sunday couldn’t have been better. Fall in the Bay Area tends to be warmer than summer, and Saturday was a perfect example, gracing us with balmy evening breezes and clear, dry skies. We celebrated with seasonally appropriate oatmeal-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies and a host of other munchies.

Tilden - Paul and Lisa (and Tanya)
Paul and Lisa (and me). I was going to crop myself out of this, but let’s be honest, this is my phantasy.

We finished the hike by continuing down the Seaview Trail, passing the intersection with Big Springs, and continuing back until reaching our starting point at the Quarry parking lot. During this last leg, the light was fading quickly, and there were swarms of mosquitoes out in full force, which meant… BATS! Bats emerged from their dark lairs, swooping around overhead in search of their next mosquito victim. Ew.

Fact: Paul hates bats.

Fact: Paul made it out alive and well, so I am able to leave you with this triumphant celebration:

Tilden - Paul Silhouette
Good night, Bay Area!!

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