Hiking in Oakland: Four of the Best Local Trails

By: Christine Ciarmello

January 15, 2014

Oakland’s appeal extends beyond the creative start-up environment and hotter-than-San-Francisco food scene to the actual land itself – the hills, the grass, the trees. Within 15 minutes of Oakland’s downtown area you can find yourself exploring an extinct volcano, hiking in the Redwoods, or soaking up the scenery on the shore of the marshlands. Here are a few of Oakland’s best trails to give you a taste of nature, some of which are easily accessible via public transport.


Redwood Regional Park | Oregon's Best Trails

Redwood Regional Park © Deane Little

Redwood Regional Park

While many people get in the car and head 45 minutes north to the famed Muir Woods National Monument to see the redwoods, you can get an equaly alluring look at the Redwood Regional Park, only 15 minutes from downtown. Multiple trails lead into the green and auburn coloured forest, where these redwood giants grow to around 150 feet. In the mid 1800s, many of the trees were logged and used to build houses. No more. Depending on the season, you may also see hazelnuts and huckleberries. The park stretches across thousands of acres but the Phillips Loop Trail offers a quick overview (from the Skyline Gate Staging area). The Stream Trail is another option for a scenic water-themed walk.


Redwood Regional Park, 7867 Redwood Rd, Oakland.


Redwood Regional | Oregon's Best Trails

Hiking in Redwood Regional Park © Deane Little

Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline

Less than 10 minutes from the airport and surrounded by a congested highway, a sports arena and the buzz of general urbanity, the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline is a pocket of outstanding marine preservation. An avian celeb, the chicken-sized California Clapper Rail that was hunted to near extinction during the Gold Rush, is usually spotted here – one of the only places in the world you’re likely to find it. The Arrowhead Marsh Trail is congested, too””but with birds: It’s on the Pacific Flyway. You may also spot the kelp-dwelling leopard sharks and bat rays, both harmless to humans.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Doolittle Dr. & Swan Way, Oakland.

Clapper Rail | Oregon's Best Trails

Clapper Rail © Jerry Ting


The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Welcome to Cenozoic Park, aka Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, an interactive lesson in geology. The Park exposes the inner workings of a volcano that erupted 10 million years ago and then tilted on its side due to tectonic plate movements. The Round Top Loop Trail circles the peak, where you’ll see special rocks and formations like basaltic tuffs, cinder, bake zones, and lava pockets filled with minerals. To the north of the trail is a quarry, where basalt was once mined for roads. A short detour off the trail will lead you to a labyrinth. Wild bobcats are rare but have been seen here on occasion.


On Skyline Blvd., just east of Grizzly Peak Blvd./Diablo Dr., Oakland.


Labyrinth | Oregon's Best Trails

The Sibley Labyrinth © Steven dos Remedios

Temescal Regional Recreation Area

A day at the beach is possible in the very-urban Oakland neighbourhood of Upper Rockridge. Hidden just out of sight of the freeways, the 48-acre Temescal Regional Recreation Area can be joyously busy with barbecues permanently fired up and fishermen reeling in their catch. Sandy beaches are lifeguard protected in season (from April to October), although you can swim anytime. A variety of trails circle the lake, including the East Shore Trail, which passes a stone beach house, a rose garden and a mini waterfall, all built in 1940 as part of the WPA program (Works Progress Administration).


Oakland Hiking | Temescal Lake

Temescal Beach © Greg Fischer

6500 Broadway and 6502 Broadway Terrace, Oakland.


Header photo: Oakland Hills © Cleve Cheng


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Have you explored Oakland’s incredible natural surroundings? Which of these four trails appeal to you? Share your thoughts with us below.

Written Christine Ciarmello


Christine Ciarmello

A San Francisco-based freelancer and now fog aficionado, Christine Ciarmello was editor-in-chief of Islands, then deputy editor of one of the largest circ lifestyle magazines, Sunset, where she created the culture blog Westphoria. She left her hometown of New Orleans after a nearly lifetime stint, three hurricane evacuations, and too much seafood gumbo. She covers the hedonistic sports of traveling, eating, drinking, and design-hunting. Places that require a ferry to get there, plus modern-vintage hotels and the tropics are her weaknesses.

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