In many ways the Ohlone Greenway rivals San Pablo Ave as the main north-south thoroughfare in El Cerrito. Although it can’t match San Pablo for volume or speed of its traffic, for walkers, joggers and bikers it is an essential artery; practically a pedestrian and bicycle highway. But highways are only as useful as the off ramps that get you where you want to be, For the most part this function is handled by city streets, but there are places where the street won’t help you. One such place is the section of the Greenway north of Manila Ave. No street crosses the Greenway until Potrero, but at Gladys our trail for this week, St. John’s Way, gives walkers and bikers access to the post office, San Pablo and Kearney St. businesses and, not coincidentally, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church.
There is much more than just a church at St. John’s, there is an elementary school, play grounds and a senior center, and this path serves them all, but importantly, it is always open and usable for neighbors and others. This is particularly important since the El Cerrito Royale Assisted Living facility is just east of the path, while the post office and other attractions are easily reachable on the western side. The closest alternative would be a long walk to Potrero .
At the east end, the Ohlone Way is separated into two lane with a grassy middle, but just to the south a short stretch of blacktop connects the lanes and leads on to Gladys. The main path itself is quite short, no more than 200 feet along the south edge of a play area. But a fence separates you from the kids playing basketball and the path is tree lined and shady and importantly, has no gates at either end so it is always open. Since this land seems to be owned by St. Johns, this needn’t have been so and they should be congratulated for making this path available to all. The west end of the path opens on to an isolated, one block long section of Kearney that connects to San Pablo via Madison. You may never have need to use this path, but like many of the urban paths, it makes life a lot easier for neighborhood people and El Cerrito a much more walkable place.