6th Annual Hillside Festival, Friday to Sunday, May 3-5

The sixth annual Hillside Festival will feature a wide variety of activities, with events throughout the 100-acre Hillside Natural Area: nature hikes for young people; a geological hike and shorter geological stroll; the Dog Scouts; a young persons’ hike led by Boy Scouts; walks to learn about native plants, birds, insects and wildflowers; a walk with a city firefighter focusing on preventing wild land fires; a hidden poetry-geocaching walk; a history hike; meditation in nature, and more.

Hikes range from strenuous to easy. Watch for the full schedule soon at www.ectrailtrekkers.org .

Sponsored by El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and El Cerrito’s Environmental Quality Committee. Free.

The festival is free but maintaining and restoring the Hillside is not. Please make a tax-deductible donation to this effort with a check to “ECCF,” with “Hillside Restoration” in the message line. ECCF is El Cerrito Community Foundation, our fiscal agent. Send to Pam Austin, 834 Kearney St., EC 94530.

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

Here is just a sampling of what we are lining up. Please note, these times may change so check the final schedule:

Friday, May 35 p.m. to 7 p.m. Introduction to the Hillside Nature Area, its history and natural history. Dave Weinstein. Co-sponsored by the El Cerrito Historical Society. Meet at Location Two, the Motorcycle Hill trailhead, where Navellier meets Blake Street.

Saturday, May 411 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dog Scouts of America — Merit Badges, Community Service and Therapy Work. Co-sponsored by Dog Scouts of America, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of our canine companions. Meet a Therapy Dog. And, does your dog have a super-nose? Scent work is a slam-dunk for most dogs, but some training is required. Sherlock Dogs .. or wannabes…come and try your sniffing skills.

6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Family-friendly Evening Ramble Through the Hillside. Alina Constantinescu. Enjoy a steep but relaxing 90-minute to two hour stroll through the Hillside. The hike is approximately 2.5 miles on trails and sidewalks. The inclines are generally mild, with just a couple of steep uphill sections. We’ll take breaks as needed to enjoy the views and the conversation. Fingers crossed for a clear evening so we can enjoy the sunset. Meet at Location Six, the King Court trailhead.

Sunday, May 5:
8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Early Morning Bird Walk led by Golden Gate Audubon Society member Tara McIntire. Explore the Hillside Natural Area with its magnificent views and grasslands covered with beautiful, native, tangled oak forests, creeks and BIRDS! The terrain can be steep and difficult. Wear sturdy shoes and please bring binoculars if you have them. Meet at Location Seven, Schmidt Lane Trailhead.

11 a.m. To 12:30 p.m. Preventing Wild Land Fires. The Hillside Natural Area is a place of remarkable beauty and value for people, wildlife, native plants, and more. But it also presents fire danger. How can the city and volunteers work together to reduce this danger? What more can be done? How can you help? Learn more by attending this hike led by the city’s fire marshal Dave Gibson. Meet at Location Six, the King Court trailhead.

1 p.m. To 2:30 p.m.. Insect hike. Eddie Dunbar, founder and president of the Insect Sciences Museum of California, will lead a family-friendly yet erudite hike revealing secrets of the Hillside’s tiniest animals.

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Easy Wildflower Walk. Join Susan Schwartz from Friends of Five Creeks to enjoy wildflowers and more in this hike aimed both at young people and the general public. Meet at Location Five, King Court.

3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Hidden Poetry/Geocaching Hike. Join Jenny Hammer for a 90-minute family-friendly hike in the Hillside Natural Area and the new Madera Open Space in search of hidden geocaches, both officially-registered and ones containing poems by nationally-recognized poets. This hike affords wonderful views and traverses trails in the most natural areas of El Cerrito. Coordinates of the caches will be supplied. Bring a GPS device if you have one, or simply use ours. Meet at Location Seven, Schmidt Lane Trailhead.