Hillside Festival 2014

The 1st Annual Hillside Festival

The El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, El Cerrito Parks and Recreation Commission and El Cerrito Tree Committee are putting on the first ever Hillside Festival to celebrate the city’s Hillside Natural Area, a 90-acre central swath of wild land, and to raise awareness and funds to add to that area by buying the Madera Open Space.

This free festival takes place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday May 17, 2014 at the Hillside Natural Area. Our activities hub will be at the trailhead on Schmidt Lane, near the city’s Recycling Center, which is at 7501 Schmidt Lane. Here attendees can pick up a map and guide to activities and learn about participating groups and individuals.

Groups taking part include El Cerrito Trail Trekkers, the El Cerrito Mountain Bike Team, Friends of Five Creeks, the Golden Gate Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, the Community Garden Network, the El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, the El Cerrito Historical Society, Berkeley historian and author Richard Schwartz, and a contingent from Madera Elementary School.

Hillside Festival Schedule 

Event numbers are keyed to the map below.

The downloadable pdf is available here

Golden Gate Audubon Society Pre-Festival Bird Walk
8:30-10 a.m.
Special pre-festival event. Starting at Schmidt Trail head near Recycling Center. Golden Gate Audubon Society members Tara McIntire and Anne Ardillo lead a strenuous, 90 minute bird walk. Limited to 12 people. The hike will allow participants to experience seeing and hearing the birds in the area and then attend the Hillside Festival activities.


El Cerrito High School Mountain Bike Team’s ‘Pop-up’ Bike park
Snowden Reservoir site, at the end of Snowden Avenue near Motorcycle Hill.
Come ride your bike at El Cerrito High School Mountain Bike Team’s temporary, one-day BIKEPARK! Skill features for all ages and abilities include: Pumptrack, freeride features, balance beams, teeter totters and more! ECHS team coach Gary Hill will be on hand to offer skills clinics and basic to advance bike riding instruction.

Free basic bicycle maintenance on site.

We encourage you to ride your bike to the Bikepark. Free valet Bike Parking is available if you would like to leave your bike and Hike to other locations and events.
You must sign a liability waiver at the event entrance to use ride the bikepark features. Helmets are required.


Friends of Five Creeks Invasive Plant Removal and  Education
Meet at the Douglas Drive entrance to the Hillside Natural Area (between 1524 and 1526 Douglas.)
Broom Pull Activity and Educational Activity. Join Friends of Five Creeks. Help remove invasive, fire-prone French broom while enjoying the Hillside Natural Area’s loveliest oak groves and streamlets, and learning about the Hillside’s biodiversity. Wear long pants and sleeves, closed-toed shoes with good traction. Water, gloves, snacks provided. Due to poison oak, event is not for very young children.


California Native Plant Society Walk & Talk
10:15 am
Meet at Schmidt Lane Trailhead, El Cerrito Recycling Center
Join Janet Gawthrop of the California Native Plant Society for a beginner level Plant Walk to learn about native plants in the Hillside. Enjoy wildflowers and some hidden wonders!


Historical Hike: The Growth of El Cerrito’s Parks
10:30-11:30 am
Schmidt Lane Trailhead near the El Cerrito Recycling Center
Join Rich Bartke, president of the El Cerrito Historical Society, former mayor, and an El Cerrito Wall of Famer. He will reveal how El Cerrito built a remarkable system of parks , an ongoing effort!


Early California Native American and Californio Life in the Bay Area
11:00 am
Enter at the first, southernmost, trailhead on Regency Court, the one that has a trailhead sign.
Berkeley’s well known historian and author Richard Schwartz will discuss the very early days of El Cerrito. What was life like before the arrival of Spanish colonists? Meet Richard at the “crossroads,” where the Ridge and Navellier Trails cross (see the Trail Trekker map), a spot with breathtaking views.


Hike Motorcycle Hill Trail to Madera Open Space
12:00-1:00 pm
Meet at the corner of Blake Street and Navellier
Join Jenny Hammer of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers for a one-hour hike up Motorcycle Hill Trail and into the Madera Open Space.
Learn some history of Motorcycle Hill, view old photos of Motorcycle hill climb races of the 1920’s. Enjoy spectacular views. Take in the aroma of California sage, and ponder why Tepco pottery shards are scattered about the area. See and understand how the Hillside Natural Area North will connect to its southern sister with the addition of the Madera Open Space. Explore a gurgling creek, pass a strangled tree, and generally get a sense of the hillside gem in the midst of our city. This hike is moderately strenuous in parts because of steepness, but most is a gentle incline. We will not be power-walking! Bring water. Sturdy boots are recommended and, if you use poles, bring them.


 El Cerrito Historical Society Talk: “The Early Days of El Cerrito”
12:30 pm
Meet at the top of the eucalyptus grove just in from King Court.
The El Cerrito Historical Society will Staff an information table just below the west end of King Court, at the top of the eucalyptus grove. Tom Panas, who is quite familiar with the history and development of El Cerrito, will lead a walk that focuses on the early settlers of our area.


Easy Nature Walk Walk
1:30 pm
Meet at the King Court entrance to the Hillside Natural Area.
Join Friends of Five Creeks founder Susan Schwartz for an Easy Nature Walk along the top of the Hillside, focusing on native grasslands and wildflowers and remnants of beautiful, fragrant coastal scrub.


Open Space Hike – Live Oak Trail to Madera
2:30-3:30 pm
Meet at the Schmidt Lane Trailhead near the El Cerrito Recycling Center.
Join Dave Weinstein President of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers for an hour-long hike through his favorite trails beneath grotesquely formed yet beautiful live oaks and across grassy meadows with superb views.



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