El Cerrito Trail Trekkers

The El Cerrito Trail Trekkers formed in order to build, maintain, publicize and use the little known urban trails of El Cerrito, California. You can support us by  joining or donating, or you can keep up with our progress by getting on our email list.  Read more about us here. Follow us on Twitter @ECTrailTrekkers or Facebook . Read about our accomplishments in 2019 and our goals for 2020 here.


A man standing on top of a heap of brush in a dumpster

Volunteer Howdy Goudey tamps down debris in the dumpster so we can cram in more.

A sere California hillside with live oaks along the ridge

This area of rocks and oak was cleared of a large broom pile in the Hillside Natural Area. Photos by Dave Weinstein

Broom Bashing Continues

Sept. 21, 2020: Broom bashers filled one dumpster and will return in October with another. Six Trail Trekker volunteers managed to fill most of a 20-cubic-yard dumpster with dead broom and other shrub and tree debris that had been piled up for a couple of years at the top of Madera Open Space, part of the Hillside Natural Area.

The work party took place September 20, a week after the originally scheduled date, when smoke made working outdoors a bad idea.

It’s amazing what can get done in two hours. But several piles remain. Trekkers is scheduling a follow up broom haul and pull for October at a date to be set. Because of the pandemic these work parties require an rsvp as attendance is limited and participants must keep distance and wear masks.

Trekkers thanks the city of El Cerrito for its partnership in this event.

We need volunteers to help improve this habitat and lessen fire risk. The work is deeply satisfying. The area is beautiful, with rock outcrops, views and oaks. Email Dave Weinstein to be on the list. davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.


a beautiful little creek with green vegetation

Baxter Creek on the first Sunday of Coastal Cleanup Month was looking pretty good even before the cleanup.

Trail Trekkers and Green Teams kick off Coastal Cleanup Month

Trail Trekkers encourages all our members and friends to take part in Coastal Cleanup Month throughout September by cleaning trash in or near our city creeks, or from areas where trash may flow into creeks once the rains arrive.

Those areas could include your own neighborhood.

Because of pandemic restrictions, this year people are advised to work individually or with close cohorts. The trash can be placed in your home bins.

On Sunday September 6, Trekker and Green Team member Dave Weinstein showed how much can be accomplished even by a single individual and in only an hour and a half. He hauled away about 40 gallons of trash and a small bag filled with recyclable cans and bottles.

Baxter Creek, which flows through Baxter Creek Park, is a beautiful spot in town. The city’s arborist Stephen Prée  working with Anne Ogonowski and other volunteers, have done so much to improve the habitat along this creek in recent years and it shows.

There really was not much trash in the creek or its beds Sunday, but what was there is gone. The west side of the creek showed evidence of two small, abandoned homeless sites, which were removed. (Green Teams never removes belongings of homeless people if there are signs that this property is being attended to.)

As always, cigarette butts made up a large proportion of the trash. Cigarette butts are made of plastic and contain chemicals and harm many creatures that ingest them.

If you do clean up an area during Cleanup Month, help us track our success by recording what you collect on the the CleanSwell app or by alerting cleanup coordinators at the City of El Cerrito, green@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.  You can register in advance. Contact Stephen Prée  at spree@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or call 510-559-7685.


Members of the El Cerrito Rotary Club and Trail Trekkers installed the Rotary Walk signs this month. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Members of the El Cerrito Rotary Club and Trail Trekkers installed the Rotary Walk signs this month. Photo by Dave Weinstein

El Cerrito’s Rotary Interpretive Trail opens

Should we write about mountain lions or deer? Banana slugs or animal scat? Eucalyptus trees alone? Or eucalyptus and other invasive plants? If nature signs are in color will they be too intrusive?

After three years of delving into these and other questions, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and the El Cerrito Rotary Club installed the 15-sign Rotary Interpretive Walk in May in the city’s Hillside Natural Area. The interpretive signs cover a wide variety of topics, from history to geology to flora and fauna.

One important question never came up: Where’s the money coming from? That’s because the Rotary chose this project to fund in an effort to contribute to the local community, something the Club has been doing for decades.

Rotarians did more than fund the signs. Members of the club worked with Trekker volunteers to dig the holes and plant the signs. During this project we adhered to virus safety procedures.

The signs look good, with subtle color that communicates the message but does not blare out. We think they are sized just right.

See them along the Live Oak Trail and tell us what you think. Head into the Hillside from Schmidt Lane and turn left when you spot the first sign. You can also enter the Hillside through the Douglas Drive trailhead, where the interpretive walk ends.

The Rotary provided major inspiration as well as funds, but it was a community effort.

Signs were designed by Jan Byers, and the drawings were by Adam Prost

Authors of the sign text are Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks, who wrote about creeks, grassland, oaks and shrubs; Tara McIntire, who wrote about red-tailed hawks and towhees; Keli Hendricks of Project Coyote, who wrote about coyotes; Gary Prost of the Northern California Geological Society, who wrote about rocks and geology; Zara McDonald of the Felidae Conservation Fund, who wrote about mountain lions; Dave Weinstein, who wrote about Hillside history and banana slugs; Eddie Dunbar of the Insect Sciences Museum of California, who wrote about dragonflies; and Bev Ortiz of the East Bay Regional Park District, who wrote about the Huchiun people.

Tom Gehling contributed drawings of invasive plants, and Linda Yamane contributed a drawing of a tule dwelling.

The Rotary signs are the first set of signs to be installed in the Hillside Natural Area. Next up are signs designed for us by the National Park Service that will mark each trail.

The first of those to go in will be the large Gateway sign at the Schmidt Lane trailhead of the Forest Brown Trail. And guess who is paying for that one?

El Cerrito Rotary.

Thanks!

 


photo of entrance to Hillside area with brown and yellow sign

photo: David Ackerly

Virtual Hillside Tree Hike led by David Ackerly

David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, leads this illustrated tour of the trees of the Hillside with an eye to how climate change is already at work both worldwide and in our city. The hour-long tour will help you identify the various native and introduced trees, and will provoke thought as David delves into how the natural and civilized worlds are reacting, or may react, as our climate changes.

He discusses how climate and climate change influences native trees, adaptations and responses of different species to fire, and the mix of native and non-native species in the Hillside Natural Area. How will the mix of species change? How should naturalists and policy makers act or react?

David has led this hike for Trekkers both in actuality, and virtually. Naturally, we always prefer getting out into the real world of nature. But you know what? With a virtual tour you can pause, ponder, focus on details.

Once covid is gone Trekkers will be back to real hikes, and we are looking forward to Professor Ackerly leading another for us. Meanwhile, enjoy this on your favorite device.

Hillside Tree Hike, Part 1: https://youtu.be/D791iQFZNws

Hillside Tree Hike, Part 2: https://youtu.be/xezp6h-izy4


 


7th Annual El Cerrito Hillside Fest, 2020

POSTPONED

As a community-oriented organization, Trail Trekkers strongly supports public health measures to arrest the spread of the coronavirus. Adherence to the shelter in place and social distancing requirements reflect responsibility and sensitivity to the dangers the virus poses to the most vulnerable in our community.

While current restrictions recognize the physical and mental value of outdoor exercise, even collective activities that respect social distancing guidelines still entail a risk of virus transmission. For this reason, the Trail Trekkers Board of Directors has taken the following actions:

All currently scheduled hikes and work parties are cancelled; no new hikes or work parties will be scheduled for the duration of the statewide shelter in place order.

The Hillside Festival scheduled for May 1-3 is postponed. Rescheduling will depend on the duration of the statewide shelter in place order. We hope to put on the festival in the fall.

The Trail Trekkers Board of Directors will conduct its monthly meetings by conference call for the duration of the statewide shelter in place order. Our meetings are open to all. Want to attend? Let us know. We meet the second Saturday at 10:30 a.m.


Tom and Wade sit at a table, proofing the map

Trekkers Wade Huntley and Tom Gehling give the trail map its final printers proofing before giving the go-ahead to the printer.

EL CERRITO TRAIL MAP AVAILABLE

Ten years ago when Trail Trekkers first formed, one of our goals was to produce a comprehensive map to the trails of El Cerrito that everyone in town could own and carry with them.

The map is provided free to members. Trekker membership is $20.00 a year for family or $1,000.00 for a lifetime membership.

Maps can also be purchased for $6 each, which includes tax, by sending a check to Pam Austin, Trail Trekker treasurer, 834 Kearney St., El Cerrito CA 94530.

Space does not permit us to thank all of those who helped. Let me start with Steve Bowes, a National Park Service planner and El Cerrito resident who – get this! – first contacted Trekkers in June 2010, before the organization had actually formed during our initial meeting.

“I’m not sure if I will be able to attend the July 15th El Cerrito Trails Working Group meeting,” Steve wrote, “but I am hoping that you could alert the group to  the possibility of applying for assistance with the National Park Service.”

Well, we did apply for assistance and Steve got the job of assisting us and the first thing he did was develop the map that we have refined over the years. Steve has remained involved as an individual, long after official NPS assistance ran out.

Carol Langhauser and Tom Gehling did the work of shepherding the map to completion. Jan Byers, a superb designer, integrated map with photos and text.

And don’t think we have forgotten the several dozen volunteers who, in the early years of Trail Trekkers, walked every path in the city to measure, plot, and describe their parameters. Truly, this map is a community effort.


Help Fund Trekkers in 2020
Signs, signs – and more signs: Help Trekkers pay for them

 

As El Cerrito Trail Trekkers happily winds up its 10th year as a non-profit organization, you our members have much to brag about. Thanks to you, we have:

  • built several new trails in the Hillside Natural Area, opening areas that had been impassable, including Motorcycle Hill
  • added to the city’s public Hillside Natural Area the formerly private Madera Open Space, which had been threatened by development
  • ensured that the entire Hillside Natural Area will remain open space forever thanks to a deed restriction
  • worked with the National Park Service to develop a citywide trail map and trail signs to be installed soon in the Hillside
  • worked with the Rotary Club to develop the Rotary Interpretive Trail, to be installed next year in the Hillside
  • put on dozens of work parties to improve trails and habitat
  • put on hundreds of free hikes to educate and entertain the public
  • created the Hillside Festival as an important annual event.

Please take part in our annual year-end fundraising campaign. We use funds to buy tools and equipment, pay for insurance, publicize our events and our causes, print maps and other materials, and put on events.

In addition, starting in 2020, we are raising funds to pay for directional trail signs for the public trails and stairways that dot the city’s landscape outside of the Hillside Natural Area. This is an effort that will take several years – but if we don’t start now the signs may never be installed.

So many people in town do not even know about these public paths. Many of these routes do not even appear to be public pathways – unless you are in the know!

The city is paying for the National Park Service-designed signs for the Hillside – but lacks funding for the non-Hillside trails. The signs would be of metal, are designed to be vandal-proof, and would be mounted on posts.

Your donations will support these wayfaring signs and other Trekker projects. Trekkers continues to advocate for preservation of open space, including Fairview Open Space adjacent to the Hillside Area, where a developer wants to build homes.

To donate, send a check made out to ECCF (El Cerrito Community Foundation, our fiscal sponsor), with “Trail Trekkers” in the message line, to our treasurer, Pam Austin, 834 Kearney St., El Cerrito, 94530. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.Help Fund Trekkers in 2020



 


Now Available! El Cerrito Trail Trekkers T-shirts!

 You can now order a Trail Trekkers t-shirt at Copy Central at 1553 Solano Ave. in Berkeley. Simply talk to the manager, Gregg Schmalz, and tell him you want to have a Trail Trekkers shirt printed. It takes about 48 hours. You can have the Trail Trekkers logo printed on the front or the back of the shirt, and you can bring your own shirt (of any color, 50/50 cotton or 100% cotton) or have Copy Central supply the shirt (in white or black only). If you bring your own shirt it costs $14.95 for a white shirt and $19.95 for a colored shirt. Add $5 if Copy Central supplies the shirt. We look forward to seeing you out on the trails in your new shirt!

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Volunteers Wanted!

The Trekkers are looking for volunteers to help improve trails and continue building new ones. Let us know if you can help – contact Dave Weinstein at 510-524-1737 or davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.

© 2019 El Cerrito Trail Trekkers Contact