Nature Study Area, Tilden Regional Park, CA
A view of Mount Tamalpais rising from San Francisco
Bay will be the reward for hiking to the top of Wildcat Peak
in Tilden Park. This trail loops through eucalyptus and oak
forests, up moderately steep hills, then back to one of the
best nature study areas in the Bay Area.
Be sure to pick up a Tilden Nature Study map at the
Environmental Education Center (EEC); it contains a legend
of trail symbols to help you follow the right paths. The
trail begins at the edge of the eucalyptus forest directly
behind the EEC. Look for the Jewel Lake Trail sign and the
Sylvan Trail marker.
This trail affords an excellent opportunity to compare
different biomes. The first part of the hike is a gentle
climb through pungent eucalyptus, abruptly yielding to oak
woodland as you near Peak Trail. Then hikers climb
moderately steep switchbacks through grassy hills (covered
with wildflowers in spring) and chaparral slopes to Wildcat
Peak at the top of the loop.
Here there is a spur(.10 mile) which leads to the top of
Wildcat Peak,high above the tops of the eucalyptus trees.
You will find a circular stone observation plaza at the top.
On a clear day hikers can view San Francisco Bay with
Mt..Tamalpais rising above the bridges in the west, and Mt..
Diablo looming above rural Contra Costa County to the
To descend and complete the loop, retrace your steps on
the spur back to Peak Trail. At this point continue on
towards Nimitz Way. About 30 yards before the paved road the
trail makes a right turn and begins to weave through a lush
When you come to the fire road (Laurel Canyon Road)
follow it to the right until you come to the marker for
Laurel Canyon Trail. Going left, you'll follow switch backs
and cross tiny streams in the shade of large oaks and
laurels. The trail continues on the other side of the next
fire road, but about 10 yards to the left.
The last leg of your trek takes you out of the oaks, back
into the eucalyptus grove, across one more fire road and
finally deposits you back in the meadow behind the EEC.
The trail described above is probably the most
interesting and scenic route to the top of Wildcat Peak, and
back again. See the Tilden Nature Study Area brochure and
map for other ideas.
Historical and Natural
Tilden Nature Study Area has had a long history: first as a
nature camp for Oakland school children in the 1930's, then
as part of the East Bay Regional Park District. Since the
1960's Tilden has operated a wonderful nature study program
with professional naturalists.
The Nature Study Area consists of many habitats:
Eucalyptus and oak forests, grasslands and shrub areas.
Before it was a nature study area it was a cattle grazing
area, and in the 1930's trees were plated in what was once
open grasslands to preserve the watershed.
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Ct.
PO Box 5381
(510) 635-0135 (general information)
(510) 636-1684 (group camping reservations)
(510) 525-2233 Tilden Nature Study Area
Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: Allow about 2 hours
Elevation gain: peak is 1250 feet high
Grade: mostly gently with some moderately steep grades near
Suggested age: Wolf Cubs through Webelos. There is quite a
bit for non-hikers tot to do as they wait at the EEC for
Suggested season: All seasons. Late winter and early spring
for a rewarding view and full streams; spring for
wildflowers; relatively cool in summer
AAA "Alameda-Contra Costa Counties," "Oakland."
Tilden Nature Study Area Map, distributed by EBRPD,
available at most EBRPD Parks.
By Car: From Highway 24 take the Fish Ranch Road Exit (just
east of the Caldecott Tunnel); go north about 1 mile to
Grizzly Peak Blvd., turn right; stay on Grizzly Peak about
12.5 miles; turn right on Canyon Drive, go about .10 mile
and veer left on Central Drive, following signs to the
Little Farm and Nature Study Area. There are no fees.
By Public Transit: AC Transit #67 bus stops in the
parking lot near EEC, weekends only.
Be sure each and every member of your party is familiar with
poison oak in its various forms before you start your hike.
It is abundant here, but not a problem if everyone stays on
Long pants will help protect against poison oak and
thistles which may grow close to the trail.
In the rainy season some parts of the trail can be very
muddy; wear shoes that can take the muck.
Environmental Education Center (has toilet facilities)
Tot Lot playground
Non-reservable picnic area
Activity suggestions and other
Also located in Tilden Park are a swimming area at Lake
Anza, Botanic Garden, antique merry-go-round, ponies and
model steam trains to ride, and more.
Achievements: 7a, 8e, 10b and Electives 13a, 13d, 18a, 18b,
Achievements: 5d, 10a, 12b, 12c, 12e, and Electives 11a,
11b, 12a, 12c, 12f, 23e
Forester, Naturalist, Traveler, Family Member
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