Welcome to the El Cerrito Trail Trekkers Home Page

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 2018 and our goals for 2019 here.


Please preview the upcoming Rotary Walk Trail Signs

Later this spring — in time for the Hillside Festival May 1 to May 3 — volunteers from the El Cerrito Rotary Club and Trekkers will install the Rotary Interpretive Walk, along a portion of the Live Oak Trail in the Hillside Natural Area.

The interpretive signs cover a wide variety of topics, from history to geology to flora and fauna. They came about when the Rotary approached Trekkers three years ago suggesting a donation for an important project. Since then, Lee Prutton of the Rotary has led this task, which was funded by the Rotary Club.

Please attend the Hillside Festival hike which will walk along this trail. It will be a great introduction to its various topics.

Saturday, May 2:

OK 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rotary Interpretive Trail Stroll. Join the El Cerrito Rotary Club and naturalists, geologists and historians as we enjoy the new interpretive signs to rocks, plants, animals and history. A great introduction to the Hillside for young people! Meet at Location Two, Douglas Drive trailhead.

And meanwhile, enjoy this preview of the signs!

Our great thanks to the Rotary Club and to all who were involved, from Jan Byers, the sign designer, to Adam Prost, the lead artist. Both received Trekker awards at our annual meeting.

We would also like to thank all the authors of sign text: Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks, Tara McIntire, Keli Hendricks of Project Coyote, Gary Prost, Zara McDonald of the Felidae Conservation Fund, Bev Ortz with East Bay Regional Park District, Eddie Dunbar of the Insect Sciences Museum of California, and Dave Weinstein.

Lisa Yamane and Tom Gehling contributed additional art.

And we thank our many friends at City Hall who facilitated this effort, including Yvetteh Ortiz, Ana Bernardes, Stephen Prée and Chris Jones!


Upcoming Hikes and Events:

 

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, 10 AM – 12:30 PM

Bash fire-prone French broom in El Cerrito’s Hillside Natural Area

Join F5C and El Cerrito Green Teams as we keep up the pressure on fire-prone French broom in the El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area’s 100 acres of oak groves, meadows, and stunning views. Tools gloves, snacks, and good company provided!

Meet at 10 AM at the north end of Regency Court, 1581 Regency Court on Internet maps. From Contra Costa Drive, take Kent Drive downhill, take the first right onto Regency Court, and continue to the cul-de-sac. Map here. Info here. Heavy rain cancels.

Middle-school and up welcome; youth under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring a re-usable water bottle and wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes with good traction.

Saturday, March 7, 2020 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tenth Anniversary Lost Trails, Fine Homes Hike

We don’t actually remember the exact route of the first Trail Trekkers hike but will try to recreate it. This will be an at-times steep two hour walk that will go into the Hillside and through neighborhoods. We’ll talk about El Cerrito history, architecture, natural history, and more as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Trekkers’ founding.

Meet: Northwest corner of Moeser and Shevlin, Leader: Dave Weinstein, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com


Sunday, March 15, 2020, 10 AM to 12 noon

Peeks at Creeks

Many creeks in El Cerrito are covered, but in its residential neighborhoods you can find glimpses of exposed portions. This walk will take us to a selection of these special places along three creeks. Walk leaders Barbara Lass and Wade Huntley will share how they have used local maps to follow buried creek beds and hunt for the signs of the creeks themselves. Meet on Eureka Ave. between Albemarle St. and Clayton Ave.


General Meeting and Election of Officers

We offer for your consideration a slate of officers for El Cerrito Trail Trekkers in 2020. We will elect officers at the annual meeting. The event is Sunday, January 19, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane. Our proposed slate includes:

Dave Weinstein, president. One of the founders of Trail Trekkers, he is a longtime El Cerrito journalist, a member of the city’s Environmental Quality Committee, president of the El Cerrito Historical Society, and a founder of Friends of the Cerrito Theater.

Wade Huntley, vice president. Wade is a 20-year El Cerrito resident and life-long Bay Area denizen. He is in his second year on the Trail Trekkers board and is committed to the value of urban open space preservation. Wade also moonlights on the National Security Affairs faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School.

Pam Austin. Pam Austin is the vice president and treasurer of the Trekkers and coordinates the hikes offered by the Trekkers. She is retired after about 30 years in human resources and earlier this year she became a Master Gardener.

Barbara Lass, secretary. “I am a 20-year resident of El Cerrito. I teach anthropology at City College of San Francisco, and my specialty within the field of anthropology is archaeology. I’ve been on the Trail Trekkers board (secretary) for about 1 ½ years. Wade and I enjoy hiking the trails of the Hillside Natural Area and elsewhere in El Cerrito and the East Bay.”

Clare Sheridan, member at large. Clare, her husband and teenage son enjoy walking out their front door and being on one of El Cerrito’s many trails in just a few minutes. She works as an analyst at the University of California’s Office of the President. She is grateful for all of the work that El Cerrito Trail Trekkers has done to make El Cerrito a wonderful place to live and is looking forward to continuing this work.


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 GOES TO THE PRINTER

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.

On the second day of 2020 we sent such a map to the printer, Premier Graphics, run by a community-spirited man who has been on our case for some time to get this task done, John Stashik.

The map will be available at our annual meeting, January 19. If you are a member, be there to pick up your free copy. If you are not a member, be there to join and pick up your free copy. They will also be available at a price to be determined.

If you are a member who cannot attend the meeting, we will get you the map via mail or personal hand delivery.

(But do attend the meeting as it features a talk, “Restoring Unlikely Urban Environments,” by Dr. Ann Riley, a pioneer in creek restoration, whose beneficiaries have included our own Baxter Creek. Sunday, January 19, 2020, 2:30 p.m., El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.)

It’s not as though Trekkers has not had a map. Indeed, earlier versions of the map have been posted for some years on our website, have been displayed to much interest at July 4 festivals, and have served as templates for several city park planning documents. But this will be our first, real, hold in your hands map.

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


Come on our Wintertime Creekside Hike

Saturday, January 11, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Dave Weinstein will lead a hike to several creeks on this walk where, if it rains, all the better. We will visit several city parks and see some creek restoration, some delightful neighborhoods, some interesting architecture. Dress for wet weather and wear hiking shoes! Free.

Meet at Baxter Creek Park, Conlon and Key Boulevard.

Work party at Creekside Park

Saturday, January 18, 2020, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cerrito Creek is a beautiful spot but it needs periodic care to remove trash. This is a great way to kick off the New Year and meet dedicated volunteers and naturalists.

All ages welcome (under 18 with guardian). Wear a hat and bring water. The creek is beautiful but needs some care. Sign up to volunteer today! Or simply show up. Interested in co-sponsoring a future cleanup? Let us know! (510) 215-4350| green@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.

Meet at Creekside Park, 3499 Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito


Trail Trekkers Annual Meeting

Sunday, January 19, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

Restoring Unlikely Urban Environments
A presentation by Dr. Ann Riley

Ann Riley is a pioneer in restoring very degraded riparian corridors, including streams that have been undergrounded. These neighborhood scale projects have produced unlikely wild areas in densely populated cities, while reducing potential flood damage. Among projects she has worked on are several in El Cerrito, including Baxter Creek.

Ann is the author of Restoring Neighborhood Streams and Restoring Streams in Cities, and was featured in the PBS TV show Urban Nature. She has worked as a river scientist for the state of California for over 25 years and has been involved with non-profits since the early 1980s as cofounder of the Urban Creeks Council and California Urban Streams Partnership.

The presentation follows a short annual business meeting of Trail Trekkers. Vote for officers – or run for office! Enjoy light refreshments. Free!

El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito


Trail Trekkers mourns the loss of Mollie Hazen

Trekkers’ board member and communications director Mollie Hazen died on August 11, 2019, after fighting cancer for several years.

She played an important part in our organization, getting out the word about our events and focusing on how to attract more participants through social engagement.

Mollie was a savvy person, knowledgeable about state and local politics, and was very good at sizing up people and envisioning how events might play out. Her contributions to board discussions were invaluable.

Even as she grew ill, Mollie remained active not just with Trekkers, but as board president of the Kensington Symphony and a member of the city’s Crime Prevention Committee. Her energy did not flag until it was gone. Weakness, and the need for a wheelchair, did not stop her from helping run our booth at the July 4 festival.


Annual Members Appreciation Party Great Success

The leaders of Trail Trekkers enjoy meeting everyone who comes on our hikes or attends other events. Still, we especially appreciate those who go the extra step of joining Trekkers by paying $20 annually or $1,000 for a life membership.

That’s why we throw an annual love-the-members party! Trekkers members include some of the most interesting, welcoming and lively people you will ever meet.


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!


Hillside Festival 2019 Attracts Hundreds

Eddie Dunbar holds the attention of young and old during his erudite yet lively-for-all walk that revealed much about the amazing insects that inhabit the Hillside Natural Area.

To see many more photos of this fascinating and fun-filled event, go here.

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Hillside Festival 2019 schedule is here

Hillside Festival 2019 schedule is here

Our sixth annual festival will be May 3-5 throughout the Hillside, and as always free, with events for young and old and those in between. There’s lots more information here.

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Trekkers 2019 Annual Meeting

Remains of the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, photo by Dave Weinstein

Trekkers will focus on fire prevention in 2019

 Trail Trekkers kicked off its ninth year in existence last weekend with a wonderfully informative and challenging program by Cheryl Miller, executive coordinator of the Diablo Fire Safe Council, and Dave Gibson, El Cerrito’s fire marshal. The 75 people in attendance learned that wildland fires in El Cerrito and nearby threaten not only homes in the hill but those in the flatlands too. They learned about easy – and less easy – things that can be done to make their homes more fire safe. And they heard about efforts by the city and East Bay Regional Park District to reduce fire loads in the Hillside Natural Area, Wildcat and Tilden regional park, and elsewhere.

You can view Cheryl’s presentation here.

Throughout the year Trekkers will address this theme.  Working with the El Cerrito Fire Department we will present two or more “Defensible Space” hikes, with fire prevention experts pointing out how homeowners can reduce the risk of their homes catching fire by reducing vegetation, planting it in the right spots, and watching out for vents and roofline entries that make it easier for fires to start.

In addition, during our 6th annual Hillside Festival, May 3-5, the city’s fire marshal, Dave Gibson, will lead a walk in the Hillside Natural Area focusing on what the city does now to reduce fire risk there and what can be done in the future.

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Update: Developer returns with plan for mansions on Fairview Open Space

After two years of silence, the group that wants to build 38 large homes on the 15-acre Fairview Open Space has submitted a new proposal to the city.

Trail Trekkers opposes any development on the site, which is the northernmost and last undeveloped section of El Cerrito’s Hillside. The area is just to the north of Motorcycle Hill, bordered by Fairview Drive, Tamalpais Avenue and the houses above on Arlington Boulevard.

The Fairview Open Space is a beautiful site featuring two creeks – one of which includes a series of scenic cascades — as well as steep slopes, some relatively flat sections, rock outcrops, and wildlife. We hope to add the land to the city’s Hillside Natural Area.

The latest development proposal resembles the last proposal, including plans for the same number of houses, which was an issue for city planners two years ago. At the staff level, the decision was made to send the previous proposal back to the developer for not complying with city ordinances or planning principles.

 

While differing from the last plan in providing greater distance between homes and the larger of the site’s two creeks, the new plan calls for channelizing the second creek. This would violate the city’s creek ordinance, and would also violate regional water quality rules.

We anticipate city staff will again send the plan back to the developer without bringing it before the Planning Commission.

Trekkers will continue to watch over this property, which is one of the city’s treasures, the last significant piece of undeveloped open space and habitat in our city, and a natural continuation of the Hillside Natural Area.

Four years ago Trekkers led an effort that resulted in the city buying and adding the Madera Open Space to the Hillside Area. That success owes much to the strong support of the community. We will need that support again to save the Fairview Open Space.

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Trail Trekkers in the news …

Contra Costa Marketplace July 2018

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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

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Motorcycle Hill steps installed!

Read about it here.

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© 2019 El Cerrito Trail Trekkers Contact