Trails Challenge highlights East Bay parks


Trevor Cheitlin

Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, part of the East Bay Regional Park District.

Trevor Cheitlin, Copy editor

Spring promises to be a spectacular time to spend outdoors.

Heavy winter rains uncover a brilliant canvas of vibrant green grass, explosive wildflower blooms and raging waterfalls all across the Bay Area, and the East Bay Regional Park District is looking to incentivize residents to go out and explore.

2017 marks the 24th anniversary of the East Bay Regional Park District’s annual Trails Challenge, an initiative in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and the Regional Parks Foundation to bring attention to the district’s 65 protected parks and highlight some of the region’s most spectacular trails.

The Trails Challenge asks participants to hike and log a minimum of either five hikes or 26.2 miles of trails over the course of the 2017 calendar year. Detailed trail maps and guides for each of the 20 applicable hikes can be found on the district’s website, or at one of eight participating visitor centers, where participants can also pick up a free Trails Challenge t-shirt (while supplies last).

David Zuckermann, regional manager for interpretive and recreation services at the district, described the program as an opportunity to increase visitation to the parks and promote a healthy lifestyle.

“[The Trails Challenge] serves as an invitation to get people outdoors and visiting parks they wouldn’t usually visit,” Zuckermann said.

The East Bay Regional Park District preserves and operates an extensive system of parks throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including nearby Briones Regional Park.

Zuckermann echoed the mission of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People campaign, a worldwide initiative to “reintegrate human, environmental and ecological health into the mission of public parks,” according to the East Bay park district’s website. He sees the Trails Challenge as a part of that overarching goal.

Each of the 20 applicable trails is rated by the district on a scale of “easy” to “challenging” based on mileage and elevation gain. They’re decidedly varied, from a 1.2 mile loop through the redwoods of Roberts Regional Recreation Area, to the 15.3 mile there-and-back of Marsh Creek Regional Trail.

Many of the trails are dog-friendly, and can be explored by foot, bike or – for the equestrians among us – horse.

If a strong sense of satisfaction and an increased knowledge of the East Bay’s extensive natural beauty doesn’t serve as incentive enough, the district is offering a commemorative Trails Challenge pin upon submitting a completed log form.

Don’t know where to start? The Inquirer is here to help. I’ll be lacing up my boots and hitting a few of the selected trails throughout the spring, highlighting my favorites here in more detail. Stay tuned.

Update #1: Part one (Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve) available here.

Update #2: Part two (Martinez Regional Shoreline) available here.