Hillside Festival 2015


May 17th 2015

The 2nd Annual Hillside Festival

Sunset, with Dogs [Friends of 5 Creeks]

California Native Plant Society Walk with Janet Gawthrop [TJ Gehling]

Enjoy El Cerrito’s second annual Hillside Festival! Events are keyed to the map on the other side.

Enjoy your Hillside Natural Area today. Visit the Madera Open Space, which the city recently acquired and added to the rest of the Hillside Area. Last year the El Cerrito Open Space Campaign raised $100,000 to help buy the land. This year we are raising funds to restore habitat, control invasive plants and improve trails. Please consider making a donation to the El Cerrito Open Space campaign to help pay for this purchase!

This festival is sponsored by El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and the city’s Environmental Quality Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission and Tree Committee.

Jim McKissock with a group from Madera School

Besides the Trekkers participants will include: the National Park Service, the Native Plant Society, Friends of Five Creeks, the El Cerrito High Mountain Bike Team, the Environmental Quality Committee, the Park and Recreation Commission, as well as other groups and individuals.




Schedule for the 2015 Hillside Festival

All-day Activities:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Festival Reception Area. at the Schmidt Lane entry to the festival, end of Schmidt Lane, near the El Cerrito Recycling Center.

  • The city of El Cerrito’s Environmental Quality Committee booth will provide festival maps and schedules, or download them from the Trekkers website. Learn about EQC activities and initiatives, including graywater techniques to save water
  • The National Park Service will gather community input to help them develop a signage plan for trails and public paths throughout El Cerrito. A park service ranger will also discuss the Anza Trail, which passes through El Cerrito.
  • Marin Clean Energy will discuss options for energy savings. from cleanups and tree plantings to green business efforts.
  • The Community Garden Network will give away seedlings and discuss gardening with native plants.
  •  Books about Bay Area history will be available for perusal and sale.
  • The Bike Park, Snowdon Reservoir, at the end of Snowdon Lane

Pop-Up bike park

Come ride your bike at El Cerrito High School Mountain Bike Team’s pop-up BIKEPARK! Skill features for all ages and abilities include: Pumptrack, freeride features, balance beams, teeter totters and more! MTB coaches will be on hand to offer skills clinics and advice. Free basic bicycle maintenance. Free Valet Bike Parking.

Learning-through-doing activities:

Friends of Five Creeks Drop-In Broom Bash and Woodland Discovery. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Central Meadow. Enter at Douglas Drive trailhead (between 1524 and 1526 Douglas) or Schmidt Lane. Susan Schwartz, leader. Follow the trail from Douglas Drive or Schmidt (see map) to the beautiful Central Meadow. Pull invasive, fire-prone French broom. Work a little or a lot! Enjoy a snack, learn about the area’s rich oak woodlands with Friends of Five Creeks. Gloves and tools provided.

Madera Stewards Habitat Restoration. Join Jim McKissock and the Madera Stewards to learn about the diversity of native vegetation in the Madera Open Space. Jim needs committed volunteers to care for native plants while removing invasives. This is a great way to learn about the project! This is also a great opportunity for children to learn about native plants. Jim will be at the Schmidt Lane trail head in the morning to discuss native plants and restoration. Then, meet him at the Regency Court trail head at 1 p.m. for a tour of the native plant restoration area.

Nature hunt for kids. Kids can get a game sheet and search the park for plants and animals.

Historical Society Table:

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a historic walk at 12:30. El Cerrito Historical Society Talk on the Early Days of El Cerrito. 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. At 12:30 Tom Panas, who is quite familiar with the history and development of El Cerrito, will lead a short walk that focuses on the early settlers of our area. Meet at the Historical Society table.

Tours and talks at Various Times:

10 a.m. Join Janet Gawthrop of the California Native Plant Society for a beginner-general level Plant Walk to learn about the many native plants that dot the Hillside. Enjoy wildflowers and some hidden wonders. Meet at the Festival Reception Area, Schmidt Lane.

10:30 a.m. Historical Hike: The Growth of El Cerrito’s Parks. Rich Bartke, president of the El Cerrito Historical Society, a former mayor, will reveal how El Cerrito built a remarkable system of parks – an ongoing effort! This hour hike starts at the Festival Reception area on Schmidt Lane.

11 a.m. Ranger Daniel Sanchez of the National Park Service will lead a walk and talk about the Juan Bautista de Anza National Trail, focusing on the Anza expedition from Mexico to the Bay Area in 1775-1776. Meet at the Festival Reception Area, Schmidt Lane.

11:45 a.m. Poet, songwriter, performer Kirk Lumpkin will perform in honor of El Cerrito’s Open Space. Festival Reception Area.

Noon. Community celebration for Madera Open Space. We will celebrate the acquisition of the 8-acre Madera Open Space, which the city bought this year after a year-long community campaign. Meet friends, hear very short speeches from Mayor Mark Friedman and others, and help us thank our many donors and volunteers. Festival Reception Area.

1 p.m. Hike to Madera Open Space. Dave Weinstein, president of Trail Trekkers, leads a 90-minute traipse across the Hillside, discussing its history, notable views, into the Madera Open Space and through it – showing how the newest acquisition to the Hillside links two previously separated sections.

2 p.m. Early California Indian Life in the El Cerrito area. Berkeley’s well known historian and author Richard Schwartz will discuss life in El Cerrito before the arrival of Spanish colonists, and about rancho life of the Californios. Meet at the “crossroads,” a spot with breathtaking views. Enter at the first, southernmost, trailhead on Regency Court, the one that has a trailhead sign, and walk downhill a quarter mile. Check the map. http://www.RichardSchwartz.info

3 p.m. Explore the varied ‘biomes’ of the Hillside. For a small (100-acre) spot, the Hillside Natural Area features a wide variety of ‘biomes’ – plant and animal communities, from riparian to open field to oak forest, and more. Join Robert Schaadt for a 60-minute tour. Meet Robert at the Regency Court entrance. Check the map.

4 p.m. Explore some of El Cerrito’s Newest Trails. For the past 5 years under trails chief Jenny Hammer, Trail Trekkers has been building trails. Join Jenny for a 90-minute tour of some of them. Learn about trail building, and met some of the volunteers. Meet at the Snowdon pop-up bike park.

5 pm. Donation time. The festival is free but maintaining and improving trails and habitat is not. On your way home please stop at the Festival Reception Area or the Bike Park to make a tax deductible donation. Checks, cash and credit cards are OK!



Water will be available at the Festival Reception, the Bike Park, and at the regency entrance to the Hillside Natural Area.

Real restrooms are at the Recycling Center, just east of the trailhead on Schmidt Lane. Porta-potties will be at the Festival Reception Area, the Bike Park and at the Regency Court trailhead just below the Madera Open Space.

Preserve the Madera Open Space

2015 Hillside Festival Map


MCE Clean Energy

MCE Clean Energy