Trail of the Week 28: Douglas Trail (#27)

Hillside Natural Area trails

Hillside Natural Area trails

We continue our exploration of trails on the northern edge of the southern part of the Hillside Natural Area. This week we feature what was until recently the only direct route to Motorcycle Hill and the northern part of the Hillside Natural Area, the Douglas Trail. Last week we followed a trail that dead-ended at Wildwood Creek. This time we cross that creek and arrive in a tiny little pocket neighborhood just off of the steepest part of Potrero.

New treads [TJ Gehling]

New treads [TJ Gehling]

Douglas Trail could be though of as a continuation of Live Oak Trail. On our list we have Live Oak ending where it hits the Navellier Trail, but older sources saw Douglas as a continuation of the old Nature Trail. The nature trail was the work of some long forgotten Eagle Scout. But the current intersection of Live Oak, Navellier and Douglas trails is the work the much more recent Eagle Scout, Johnny Wu, who installed treads there last year. Johnny did this project with the cooperation of Susan Schwartz from Friends of Five Creeks and the city, but he learned step building on Motorcycle Hill with the Trekkers.

Douglas Trail [TJ Gehling]

Douglas Trail [TJ Gehling]

Unbeknownst to most hikers, the little used Wildwood Creek Trail parallels the Douglas Trail for part of its length, just a few yards down slope. But while Wildwood is a tangle of vegetation, Douglas is a well defined trail with little impinging undergrowth. The lack of French Broom here, as well as elsewhere in the Hilldide Natural Area, is mostly due to the dedication of workers from Friends of Five Creeks, the Trekkers, and other like-minded volunteers. But there is always more to do. If you are interested in taking part in one of these work parties you can check the Five Creeks website, the El Cerrito Green Teams page, or our own Events page.

Crossing the Creek [TJ Gehling]

Crossing the Creek [TJ Gehling]

The north end of the Douglas trail begins with a descent down wooden treads to the channel of Wildwood Creek, which is crossed by a plank bridge. On the other side is a short alley between two houses that front on Douglas Circle. Douglas Circle connects only to Potrero Avenue; otherwise it is an isolated neighborhood. For residents it is an end in itself, but most others will want to turn around or continue north. If you choose to continue to Potrero you have a choice: a steep walk down to Navellier or a steep walk up to the Arlington. But those going up very quickly reach the upper entrance to the northern part of the Hillside Natural Area. Before the Motorcycle Hill Trail was built it was the only official entrance to that area, and even after was still the shortest way to go from the southern to the northern section. But with the acquisition of the Madera Open Space you will be able to go from one section to the other and never leave park or trail (except to cross Potrero where the Motorcycle Hill Trail meets the Julian Steps). The El Cerrito Open Space Campaign still needs your donations. The money we raise will make sure the land can be acquired while still leaving funds to maintain other city parks.

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One thought on “Trail of the Week 28: Douglas Trail (#27)

  1. Pingback: Trail of the Week 35: Tamalpais to Arlington Path (#9) | El Cerrito Trail Trekkers

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