Events


Broom Pull
Remove invasives from the Hillside Natural Area

A Cub Scout from Pack 104 fights broom

Saturday, November 19, 2022 — 10am-1pm
Sunday, December 11, 2022 — 10am-1pm

Join Green Team Broom Pulls in 2022
Join the city of El Cerrito’s Green Teams and El Cerrito Trail Trekkers to remove noxious
French broom, which chokes out native plants and fuels wildfires. The ground will be
soft so it will be easy to pull plants out. No experience necessary!

Meet at the north end of Regency Court.

All ages welcome (under 18 with guardian). Bring water and wear sunscreen.

The Green Teams supply tools, gloves and tarps.
Attendance limited. RSVP or simply show up: 510-215-4350 or
DavidSWeinstein@yahoo.com


Enjoy Trekkers’ holiday members appreciation party

Trail Trekker members enjoyed a holiday party some years ago at a member’s home.

Celebrate the season and the end of one year and start of another at a Trekkers house party from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m on Saturday December 3.

We invite longtime members and new members for good food, beverages, and social interaction to this party, which will take place both indoors and outdoors to accommodate all. Not a member? Bring your checkbook to join at the door, only $20 for a family annual membership, $500 to become a member for life!

If you’re a longtime member you will remember how much fun these parties can be, with Trekkers attracting some of the most charming personalities in our area. New to the group? We ensure that everyone feels welcome. All ages are welcome. RSVP to davidsweinstein@yahoo.com to find out the address. Hope to see you there.



Recent Past Events


Motorcycle Hill History Climb

Alan Siegel led a marvelous hike during the Hillside Festival in May. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Sunday, September 25, 2022 10 a.m. to noon

Alan Siegel, a volunteer docent with the East Bay Regional Park District’s Tilden Botanic Garden, will teach us to identify edible and medicinal plants in the El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area.

We will learn interesting stories about how native plants have been used over the centuries and currently for food, medicine, and crafts by Indigenous peoples and cultures world-wide. A fall harvest theme with some focus on acorns, nuts, and berries.

Meet: Schmidt Lane trailhead of the Hillside Natural Area, 7501 Schmidt Lane.

Info: Dave Weinstein, 510-529-5432, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com

Girls Scouts Sing-along Hike

The Girl Scouts led a marvelous hike during the Hillside Festival in May. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Sunday, September 18, 2022 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Join El Cerrito Girl Scout Troop 33283 for a musical hike up and down Motorcycle Hill. The Girl Scouts will lead and teach favorite camp songs and share scouting traditions. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Be prepared for a steep climb up the hill. Families and all ages encouraged to attend. Boys too. Under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Meet: At the bottom of Motorcycle Hill, between 1636 Navellier and 7255 Blake

Info:  Dave Weinstein, 510-529-5432, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com

A Beautiful Homes Stroll

A home on Hillside Avenue with local stone on its façade. Photo by Dave Weinstein
A home on Hillside Avenue with local stone on its façade. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Sunday, August 21, 2022 4 pm to 6 pm

Let’s enjoy views of Storybook, Period Revival and Mid-Century Modern homes and gardens, and notice rock outcroppings, creeks and other natural historical features, on this sometimes steepish route. A 90-minute walk will finish with socializing and refreshments on the rocky front yard of a Trail Trekker’s home.

Meet: In front of a home at 2661 Mira Vista Dr., Richmond, near the El Cerrito border

Leader: Dave Weinstein, 510-529-5432, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com

Rotary Interpretive/Native Plant Walk

Janet Gawthrop is a dedicated naturalist who has led
several hikes for Trekkers. Photo by Dave Weinstein Photo by Dave Weinstein
Janet Gawthrop is a dedicated naturalist who has led
several hikes for Trekkers. Photo by Dave Weinstein Photo by Dave Weinstein

Sunday, July 31, 2022 10 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Join us in the Hillside Natural Area for a walk along the Rotary Interpretive Walk, visiting signs that provide information on geology, plants, animals, and insects of the area. Learn about plants along the way with Janet Gawthrop, field trip coordinator for the East Bay chapter of the California Native Plant Society, who maintains volunteer weeding sites in East Bay Regional parks. We will walk about 2 miles at a leisurely pace with one steep climb at the start.

Meet: Schmidt Lane trailhead, near the Recycling Center

Information: Dave Weinstein, 510-529-5432, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com

three people on a hillside bend over to pull up plants

Learn about the geological setting of El Cerrito and about the rocks in our city – the Franciscan formation metamorphic rocks, volcanic rocks, and faults and landslides.

Tour leader Gary Prost is a retired geologist who spent 40 years working for the U.S. Geological Survey, mining companies, and oil companies. He is a member of the Northern California Geological Society.

Bring sturdy shoes and hiking poles for the steep sections, and be prepared for any kind of weather. Meet at 10 a.m. Saturday February 19 at the Schmidt Lane Hillside Area trailhead, near the Recycling Center.


Broom hike (30)
Parents, children from a 4H club, and others learned to distinguish harmful invasive plants from valuable natives during a combination hike-broom pull in November. They also learned how to remove the invasive broom plants. Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks was the leader. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Volunteer at the Green Teams Broom Pull

On Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. to noon, join El Cerrito’s Green Teams and El Cerrito Trail Trekkers to remove invasive French broom from the Hillside Natural Area. The ground is now soft making it easier to pull plants out. No experience necessary! Meet at the north end of Regency Court. All ages welcome (under 18 with guardian). Wear a hat and bring gloves, sunscreen and water. The Green Teams supply tools and tarps. For more info, email green@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or call 510-215-4350.


Baxter Creek 12 5 21 habitat restoration (2)
 Stephen Prée educated volunteers about native plants and the perils posed by invasive plants during a recent Baxter Creek work party. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Take part in the next Baxter Creek Work Party on Sunday, January 9, 10 a.m. to noon. Please join city staff and other volunteers at Baxter Creek Gateway Park in this jewel on the Ohlone Greenway. The activities will include litter removal, invasive plant removal and native plant care.

The work party will be the second Sunday this month, not the usual first Sunday, due to the holiday.

All ages are welcome (under 18 with guardian). Please wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Bring water. The city will provide tools, bags, gloves, and sanitizer. There are no bathrooms at the park. We will meet at 10 a.m. at Conlon Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway. RSVP by email or phone: cbennett@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us  or 510-215-4350.

Baxter Creek Gateway Park Volunteer Days take place on the first Sunday of each month, except during major holiday weekends, in which case we will meet the following Sunday.


haiku

Mark your calendars for Hillside Festival 2022 –Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15. The ninth annual Hillside Festival will be held in the actual Hillside Natural Area in 2022, unlike last year, when events were held virtually. This year we will also include virtual events for a hybrid festival. Trekkers is also developing a backup plan in case the pandemic worsens. But if all goes well – see you in the hills! Our festival is always free and features bird, animal, plant hikes, history events, and more.



A family looking at their phones as they walk along a trail. One person holds a paper map. It's a sunny day.
A family enjoys a Jenny Hammer geocaching hike at the 2019 Hillside Festival. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Discover hidden poems in our Hillside and all around our town.

Are you interested in treasure-hunting during your walks in El Cerrito? Jenny Hammer and Tim Aaronson of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers have refreshed their Hidden Poetry geocaching hike series.

These hikes were sponsored by Trail Trekkers and the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission and were a local twist to the international sport of geocaching.

Use the GPS coordinates and the maps at Trekkers website (under the PLACES/HIDDEN POETRY GPS tab) to find the hidden containers, read the poems inside, and then sign and date the log sheets.

There are twenty-six caches with poems by, and short biographies of, the poets all over our city. In Hike Series One, read poems of California poets laureate, starting with the first one, Ina Coolbrith (1915).

Series Two will bring you to nine United States poets laureate, and Series Three highlights eight of our local poets. Use the GPS function of your smart phone or other device to find the caches. Afterward, if you’d like, post your comments at:
https://www.facebook.com/El-Cerrito-Trail-Trekkers-115184015302188/

Happy hunting!


An interpretive sign overlooking a scene of golden hills dotted with oak trees. You can see houses in the distance.
The El Cerrito Rotary Club funded and helped install interpretive signs, which were the basis for Trekkers tour of the Hillside natural Area. Photo by Glen Nethercut

Rotary Walk Virtual Tour Is Available

At Trekker’s annual meeting in July, we took a virtual tour of the Rotary Interpretive Walk. Now you can take that tour with geologist Gary Prost, birder Tara McIntire, and entomologist Eddie Dunbar. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite tree?

Sure you do! Whether it is a street tree, a tree in a city park or the Hillside Natural Area, a tree in a shopping center, or one in your front yard, why not share it with the world?

The city of El Cerrito’s Urban Forest Committee wants to publicize the city’s trees and urban canopy this spring, in honor of Arbor Week, March 7-14. Other Arbor Week plans include tree plantings and a virtual “Ask the El Cerrito Arborist” presentation and discussion.

Committee chair Mary Torrusio plans to post images of “local trees that community members especially enjoy or admire’ on Instagram. Send your favorite tree on to Mary, and tell her why this tree is special: metorrusio@gmail.com.

A group of hikers file into a clearing from a woody path with overhanging oak branches
El Cerrito Trail Trekkers is restoring a large network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, trails and steps for the enjoyment of the community

A Four Parks Stroll

Saturday, August 28, 2021 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or so

Enjoy a pleasant, at-times steep, 90-minute to two-hour stroll through two of our city’s favorite parks and two in Richmond. See fine homes, several creeks, rock outcrops, public art and other wonders. Wear hiking shoes. Unvaccinated? Wear a mask.

Meet: Bottom of Poinsett Park, corner of Poinsett and Harris avenues

Leader:  Dave Weinstein, 510-529-5432, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com


View from El Cerrito Hills by Ling Liao small

Hillside Festival 2021

Trekkers’ eighth Hillside Festival will be different this year, with a mix of live and pre-recorded online “hikes” plus self-guided events for families and friends to do without the crowds that have attended past, pre-pandemic festivals.

Here is the schedule of events for the Hillside Festival. Enjoy!

Haiku contest. Rules, prizes. And just what is a haiku, anyway?

Enjoy our Nature Scavenger Hunt, a photographic, family friendly family activity.


A family looking at their phones as they walk along a trail. One person holds a paper map. It's a sunny day.

A family enjoys a Jenny Hammer geocaching hike at the 2019 Hillside Festival. Photo by Dave Weinstein

 

 

Discover hidden poems in our Hillside.

Are you interested in treasure-hunting during your walks in El Cerrito? Jenny Hammer and Tim Aaronson of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers have refreshed their Hidden Poetry geocaching hike series.

These hikes were sponsored by Trail Trekkers and the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission and were a local twist to the international sport of geocaching.

Use the GPS coordinates and the maps at Trekkers website (under the PLACES/HIDDEN POETRY GPS tab) to find the hidden containers, read the poems inside, and then sign and date the log sheets.

There are twenty-six caches with poems by, and short biographies of the poets all over our city. In Hike Series One, read poems of California poets laureate, starting with the first one, Ina Coolbrith (1915).

Series Two will bring you to nine United States poets laureate, and Series Three highlights eight of our local poets. Use the GPS function of your smart phone or other device to find the caches.

Afterward, if you’d like, post your comments at:
https://www.facebook.com/El-Cerrito-Trail-Trekkers-115184015302188/


 
A woman stands with tool to pull large weeds

A volunteer uses a weed wrench to remove broom at the Trekkers November work party. Photo by Dave Weinstein

It’s time to pull broom!

Join the city of El Cerrito’s Green Teams and El Cerrito Trail Trekkers to remove noxious French broom, which chokes out native plants and fuels wildfires. The ground is soft so it is easy to pull plants out; we will also dump existing piles into a dumpster. We will supply tools, gloves and tarps. Bring water and wear sunscreen. No experience necessary!

The work party is Saturday, February 27, 2021 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Attendance limited. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Enjoy! Meet at north end of Regency Court. Rsvp required: Davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.   

A second broom party will take place Sunday, March 14, same time and place.

One last broom bashing in the Hillside. Please join us!

Over the past two months Trekker volunteers have removed many piles of dead, invasive and flammable broom plants from the Hillside Natural Area. Still, a few piles remain. Some were only spotted after we hacked through stands of invasive artichoke. And while we are at it, let’s uproot young, tender shoots of broom before they grow into monsters. Invasive plants harm habitat and cause fire danger.

We will supply tools, gloves, tarps, and more. Bring water! Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Attendance limited. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Enjoy! Meet on Madera Circle, just downhill from Madera Elementary School. Rsvp required: Davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.


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.


 

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


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!

PAST EVENTS

For a full list of past events for 2018 and 2019, go here.

© 2022 El Cerrito Trail Trekkers Contact
 
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