This week’s trail is really three trails, except that it isn’t. It is a single path that connects Contra Costa Drive to Arlington Boulevard. Except it doesn’t. Let’s try this again. This week’s trail is one trail with three segments, but two of the segments are impassable. Only it isn’t even certain that the middle segment actually exists at all. Which is a shame since it would be a great addition to the city’s paths. If complete, this trail would provide an easy path from Arlington to the Huber Park trails (#54) or Stockton-King (#49). It would be analogous to the Shevlin to Arlington Park Path (#37) that connects Arlington Park to the Hillside Natural Area and The Great Western Power Trail (#41) on the north side of Moeser. But at least for now it isn’t and it doesn’t.
The first (lowest, western) segment connects Contra Costa Dr. to Bay Tree Lane. This trail is easy to find from the bottom, since it starts with a stairway just east of the intersection of Terrace and Contra Costa. That’s it behind the telephone pole. About 20 steps, with chain-link fence on the outside of the railings on both sides, in case you might mistake it for someone’s front stairs. This fencing continues up about half of the way to Bay Tree. But from then on things look a little confusing. Because suddenly you’re in somebody’s driveway. Or so it would seem. This is when a little close observation comes in handy. You should notice that along the right side of the driveway (as you go up) there are openings for utilities. This is often the best clue that something is a public path. For many of these public right-of-ways exist because of the need to keep access to utilities available to public workers. And a look at the El Cerrito GIS, Community View, shows that indeed the right side of the driveway is a public easement. But you wouldn’t know that if you were looking for the trail entrance on Bay Tree. It does look just like a driveway. Albeit one with a spectacular view.
The rest of the trail, the two lost segments, are more problematic. The last segment, between Bates and Arlington, runs parallel to Roberta Dr., but behind the houses that face onto Roberta. Because of this, the loss of the section doesn’t have much effect on walkability. It isn’t a big detour to go down Roberta. It’s the missing middle section that really hurts. Baytree is a dead-end court off of Gelston Place. Gelston itself ends in several blind cul-de-sacs. The only outlet is its entrance, from Terrace. The probable path would run from across from where Gelston meets Bay Tree, straight up the hill to opposite where the last segment hits Bates. However, this middle segment doesn’t show up in Community View. But that is the only possible place it could be. It makes sense that it would be there. So why isn’t it? The question is probably moot. It definitely isn’t there now and we will just have to imagine how great it would be if it were.