6th Annual Hillside Festival 2019

Friday, May 3 to Sunday, May 5. Locations throughout the Hillside Natural Area.   Free

Presented by El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and El Cerrito’s Environmental Quality Committee

Schedule as text – see below           Schedule as PDF with map – Click Here

Explore El Cerrito’s Hillside Natural Area. Hike, play, learn about nature, history, geology, dogs, more. Activities for young and old. Questions? davidsweinstein@yahoo.com

Trail Trekkers is a 10-year old nonprofit dedicated to preserving and expanding El Cerrito’s wildland and urban paths and trails and advocating for open space. We present hikes throughout the year.

The Environmental Quality Committee advises the City Council and city officials, educates the public, and puts on cleanups, habitat restoration work parties, films and other events.

The Hillside Natural Area is a 100-plus acre park that will be preserved forever as open space.

Donations: The festival is free but maintaining and improving the Hillside is not. Please make a tax deductible donation with a check to “ECCF,” with “Hillside Improvement” in the message line. ECCF is the El Cerrito Community Foundation. Send to Pam Austin, 834 Kearney St., El Cerrito, CA 94530. Or donate online, www.ectrailtrekkers.org.

Locations: One, Motorcycle Hill, where Navellier and Blake streets meet. Two, Madera Elementary School, 8500 Madera Dr. Three, Madera Circle Entry, between 1540 and 1560 Madera Circle. Four, Regency Gateway, at northern end of Regency Court. Five, King Court Gateway, at end of King Court. Six, Schmidt Lane Trailhead, near the end of Schmidt Lane, west of the Recycling Center.

Friday, May 3:

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Hillside Natural Area, its history and natural history. Dave Weinstein leads this often steep hike throughout the hillside. Co-sponsored by the El Cerrito Historical Society. Meet at Location One, Motorcycle Hill trailhead.

Saturday, May 4:

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Young Persons’ Nature Hike led by Madera Elementary School PTA and Foundation members. Join Madera parents and students on an enjoyable walk through the Madera Open Space and Hillside.  Meet at Location Two,  Madera Elementary School.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dog Scouts of America — Merit Badges, Community Service and Therapy Work. Co-sponsored by Dog Scouts of America. Meet a Therapy Dog. And learn scent work. It’s a slam-dunk for most dogs, but training is required. Dogs, come and try your sniffing skills. This drop-in event takes place at Location Two, Madera Elementary School. 

Noon to 2 p.m. Geology Walk. Co-sponsored by the Northern California Geological Society, leaders Mark Petrofsky and Bill Motzer. Learn about the geological setting of El Cerrito, the rocks in our city, and faults and landslides. This moderate to strenuous walk will have steep sections. Meet at Location Six, Schmidt Lane trailhead.

2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Boy Scouts Nature Hike and Habitat Preservation. Take a short hike with the Boy Scouts and leader Phil Maynard to learn about the Hillside’s native plants and the species that have invaded our Hillside. Meet at Location Four, Regency Gateway.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Beginner-general level Plant Walk. Janet Gawthrop of the California Native Plant Society leads this moderate walk, focusing on native plant restoration. Janet hopes to find Oakland star tulips in bloom. Meet at Location Three, Madera Circle Entry, between 1540 and 1560 Madera Circle.

6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Family-friendly Evening Ramble. Alina Constantinescu leads a steep but relaxing 90-minute to two hour stroll through the Hillside. The hike is about 2.5 miles on trails and sidewalks.  Inclines are generally mild, with a couple of steep uphill sections. We’ll take breaks as needed to enjoy views and conversation. Meet at Location Five, 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 bring binoculars if you can. Meet at Location Six, Schmidt Lane Trailhead.

10 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Family Friendly Geology Stroll. Geologist Gary Prost offers an easygoing walk introducing young people to the wonders of rocks and the earth beneath their feet. People of any age are welcome too! Meet at Location Six, Schmidt Lane Trailhead.

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Preventing wild land fires walk. The Hillside Natural Area is a place of beauty and value for people, wildlife and native plants. But it also presents fire danger. How do the city and volunteers work together to reduce this danger? What more can be done? How can you help? The city’s fire marshal Dave Gibson leads. Meet at Location Five, King Court trailhead.

Noon to 3 p.m. Nature Scavenger Hunt. Learn about the plants, birds, animals, rocks, and creeks in the Hillside Natural Area. Parents enjoy helping their children in this fun event. Find the things on your list (no actual collecting please), take photos, and then return to talk with others about what you found. Meet at Location Six, Schmidt Lane 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. Meet at Location Four, Regency Gateway.

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 search of hidden geocaches, both officially-registered and ones containing poems. Coordinates of the caches will be supplied. Bring a GPS device if you have one; if not we can share! . (You can learn more about geocaching at: geocaching.com.) Meet at Location Six, Schmidt Lane Trailhead.

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy the view, snacks, and good company.

Trail Trekkers thanks two local businesses for supporting the festival through donations. The El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company and Trader Joe’s are donating to one of our special events at the Sixth Annual Hillside Festival.

This will be the festival’s first ever purely social gathering, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We will gather for light snacks and beverages above the city’s recycling center, a few hundred yards into the Hillside Natural Area from the King Court trailhead.We especially encourage all hike leaders and other volunteers, and Trekker members and Environmental Quality members and supporters to attend, but everyone is invited. Come and meet local naturalists, open space advocates, and just neighbors while enjoying treats courtesy of two El Cerrito companies.

This open-to-all event takes place where the view is great, a few hundred yards from Location Five, King Court trailhead. Follow signs.

7 p.m. As the day winds to a close, join Nicole Becker from Ojas Yoga Center for Meditation in Nature, high in the hills by a rock outcrop with stupendous views. Relaxing. Enter at Location Five, King Court Trailhead. Follow signs for a few hundred yards.

Porta-potties are available at the Regency Court Gateway and at King Court. There is a restroom open all day at the Recycling Center near the Schmidt Lane Trailhead.

Meet and greet plein air painters at the Hillside Festival

Schmidt Gateway by Marie Cotter

Plein Air Painters from the EL Cerrito Art Association will set up around the trails during the Hillside Festival to paint the views and scenes at some of their favorite locations.

Hillside Trail by Beverly Gilbert

You may pass them on some of the many hikes that are part of the festival.  Stop and say hello! Throughout the year, artists from the association paint in the Hillside Natural Area. But during the festival, we may have 10, 12, maybe even more in action.

View from El Cerrito Hills by Ling Liao

The Art Association’s primary activity is the annual art show each first weekend of October, open to local artists as well as the group’s members.

For more about our other activities and the Plein Air group, go to www.elcerritoart.org. The association meets each second  Monday Feb- Nov, in the Garden Room of the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane 7 – 9 pm, when artists are invited to demonstrate or talk about their work. Programs are free and open to the public.