Redwood & Roberts Regional Recreation Area
Largest remaining stand of coastal redwoods in the East Bay
HIGHLIGHTS: The slim, 150-foot trees you can see in these two regional parks are a generation removed from those that helped build the San Francisco Bay Area during and after the Gold Rush, but they represent the largest remaining stand of coast redwoods in the East Bay. With 1,829 acres surrounded by other open-space lands, Redwood Regional Park makes a significant contribution to the preservation of nature. With ball fields and swimming pools, 82-acre Roberts Recreation Area is more about family fun in a spectacular setting.
ACTIVITIES: Picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kite flying, archery, camping, swimming, baseball, volleyball, dog walking (on leash in developed areas; off leash under voice control elsewhere). To reserve a picnic site, call (888) 327-2757.
VISITOR CENTER: None, but naturalists from Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda lead programs in these parks. For more information, call 510-544-3187.
CAMPGROUNDS: To reserve one of Redwood Regional Park's group day and overnight camping areas, call (888) 327-2757. No camping in Roberts Recreation Area.
TRAILS: From the Redwood Bowl Staging area, the parks' high point, 1,619-foot Redwood Peak, is only a short stroll away. For hikers with more time, naturalist Sara Fetterly recommends the following 3.8-mile loop: Begin at Canyon Meadow Staging Area at the southeast end of the park; walk along Stream Trail; then make right turns onto Prince Road, East Ridge Trail and Canyon Trail, which will take you back to the start. On this gentle walk, you'll be rewarded with beautiful redwoods, meadows and chaparral.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: Almost 200 years ago, two redwoods stood so tall on a ridgetop here that sea captains used them to navigate, lining the trees up with the northern tip of Yerba Buena Island to avoid dangerous rocks between Alcatraz Island and San Francisco. The trees are gone but not forgotten: a memorial lies a hundred yards from the parking lot in Roberts Regional Recreation Area. These parks are also the place where scientists first identified rainbow trout as a distinct species. Rainbows still live in Redwood Creek, but fishing is not allowed.
HIDDEN GEMS: Loggers left only one old tree in Redwood Regional Park. It's in an inaccessible place, says naturalist Sara Fetterly, which is why it was spared. But on some guided walks, visitors get a chance to peek at it from a distance.
EAT: Eric Havel of Chabot Space Center recommends eating at one of the restaurants in the Dimond District of Oakland (10 minutes from Redwood Regional/Roberts Parks), especially Nama Sushi.
STOP: For local fare, Eric suggests stopping at the Fruitvale, Dimond and Glenview Districts' shops and restaurants in Oakland.
FAVORITE HIKE: Redwood Peak Trail is a 20-30 minute round trip hike from Chabot and takes you to an elevation of 1619 feet above sea level.
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: Eric says the views of Oakland and the Bay can't be missed. He also recommends seeing the only old tree, left by the loggers, in the park. It's in an inaccessible place, which is why it was spared. But on some guided walks, visitors get a chance to peek at it from a distance.
Bob Hansen, former President at The Yosemite Fund, notes that the best access to the park is through the Big Bear staging area on Redwood Road and not the ones on Skyline Blvd.
DON'T MISS: The playground is great for children. Be sure not to miss an evening viewing of the night sky at the Chabot Space and Science Center.
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HIGHLIGHTS: Halfway between San Rafael and Point Reyes, Roy's Redwoods is a small, county-run preserve with lots to admire. It's easy to get to, right off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in western Marin County. It has old-growth redwoods without the crowds of a place like Muir Woods.