I’m gratified to note that when the SFGATE website (that’s the San Francisco Chronicle) explained yesterday how El Cerrito got its name, the image they chose to represent the essence of our town was none other than the Hillside Natural Area! It’s wonderful

Patchie visited Madera Open Space with Trekkers and city officials before the area was purchased by the city

that the city is becoming associated in the wider public’s mind with this wilderness area, which Trail Trekkers will celebrate on May 21 during our fourth annual Hillside Festival.

Do not miss this event! We are putting together a great schedule now with hikes, talks, games and more for all ages.

Oh yeah, another reason I like the SFGATE photo — it shows my late and still beloved dog, Patchie, who served for years as Trail Trekkers’ mascot!





by Dave Weinstein, Trail Trekker president


We want to re-focus our attention on trail building, including by installing steps at the bottom of Motorcycle Hill Trail. We also hope to finish construction of the Terrace Cutoff Trail and perhaps work on other trails as well.
We will continue the fight to preserve Fairview Open Space, the 15-acre wild land just north of the Hillside Natural Area, including building coalitions with other groups interested in open space, wildlife, creeks, air quality, parks and other environmental and community issues.
Trekkers will put on at least seven programs, including hikes and work parties that focus on El Cerrito history as part of the 2017 City Centennial.
The fourth annual Hillside Festival will be back and even better on Sunday, May 21.
We plan to create a printed version of our trail map this year for easy use by hikers, walkers and bikers.
We will continue to work with the city and Friends of Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Park on planning for improvements in this new nature and garden park in the city’s hills.
We will work with PG&E to control overgrowth on the open space PG&E property, which is in between Moeser Lane and the Hillside Natural Area, while preserving and improving wildlife and natural habitat. We will work to ensure continued public access to trails on this property.
We will mount a membership drive to ensure that people in our community get involved with our organization and help support its mission through their participation, membership dues – and in other ways too.

by Dave Weinstein, Trail Trekker president.

During 2016, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers made great strides towards improving the trail and urban pathway network in El Cerrito.

We won approval for a plan to install trail signs throughout the city, both in the Hillside Natural Area and along urban stairways and other paths. This was a multi-year effort done in conjunction with the National Park Service through their Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program. The city will fund sign installation in 2017 using Measure WW bond funds, thanks to unanimous approval from the Parks and Recreation Commission. We thank Patrick Johnston of the National Park Service for the imaginative signage design. It will make navigating the city’s many miles of paths much easier.
Also thanks to the National Park Service program, we have completed a map of all the city’s trails and pathways and will publish it in 2017. We thank Stephen Bowes of the National Park Service for major assistance developing and designing the map. This will be the first ever publically available map to the trails of El Cerrito. It will be free to members of Trail Trekkers and will be available to others for a small fee.
We are helping organize opposition to a proposed tract of mini-mansions on Fairview Open Space. In an effort to preserve 15 acres of wild land just to the north of the Hillside Natural Area, Trekkers met with a revived group named ECHO (El Cerrito Hillside Organization) to strategize fighting a plan to build 38 homes there. As we did two years ago with the Madera Open Space, we hope to add this land instead to the city’s Hillside Natural Area. The city has rejected initial proposals from the developer for several failures, including failing to explain how the plan would protect two creeks on the property, which combines grassland and forest and has a beautiful gorge with a series of cascades. The proposal will likely return in altered form for city consideration.
The third annual Hillside Festival was a great success, attracting about 300 people, including many families. We thank the city’s Environmental Quality Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission for co-sponsoring. We also thank the many organizations and individuals who led hikes, discussions, or otherwise took part, including the California Native Plant Society, Ranger Daniel Sanchez of the National Park Service, historian Richard Schwartz, the Golden Gate Audubon, the Northern California Geological Society, and others. We even had an outdoor meditation by Nicole Becker of Ojas Yoga Center. The festival raised funds for hillside maintenance.
We worked with other groups in the city on plans to open the Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Park. The park may include a native plant nursery, environmental education and a meeting place for local non-profit groups. There will also be an alternative entrance via a short trail
Girl Scout Troop 31352, with the encouragement of Trail Trekkers, has renewed and restored plantings the troop installed two years ago at the Tassajara Steps near Tassajara Park. Robin Mitchell of the Community Garden Network was instrumental in helping the Scouts select native plants for the initial installation. We thank the Girl Scouts for their dedication to community improvement along our trails.
Trail Trekkers led more than two dozen hikes during the year, ranging from tours of the natural landscape on Albany Hill, to a hike past the city’s small but beautiful waterfalls, to an architectural tour of storybook-style homes, to a hidden geo-caching poetry hike. Our hikes are free to all.
At our annual meeting in 2016, the group of Raptors are the Solutions (RATS delivered a valuable presentation about protecting birds of prey from poisons used to control pests.
Trekkers held its first ever Members Appreciation Party this holiday season. It proved so successful we will do it again next year, and may add a spring appreciation party too.
Trekkers added to its board of directors a new member, Mollie Hazen, a longtime active member of the El Cerrito community. An event producer, legislative health care advocate and photographer, she operates Hazen Nature Photography, exhibiting photos of her late husband Don R. Hazen. She also serves as board president of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and as an El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commissioner. Mollie is a longtime member of the El Cerrito Crime Prevention Committee, received legislative recognition for her outstanding work in uniting the community against crime.

Girl Scouts plant native plants along the Tassajara stairs

Girl Scouts plant native plants along the Tassajara stairs in 2013

Along the western edge of Tasajara Park there is a passage and set of steps connecting Barrett and Alva Avenues. And for many years it included some empty square plots of soil suitable for mini-gardens if only someone would plant them. Then three years ago, girl scouts from Troop 31352 took up the challenge. Encouraged by the Trekkers and with plants from the El Cerrito Community Garden Network, the girls planted native flowers. But the girls moved on to other things and sadly the the planting began to start looking a bit worn and weedy.

But the plants were not forgotten a this year the scouts returned to refresh and renew their work. We would like to thank the girls and their troop leaders for helping keep out parks beautiful.

Trekker board member Pam Austin took the lead in getting the girls involved again and took the pictures below of their work.










IMG_1658A new bench has appeared in the Madera section of the Hillside Natural Area. Problem is, no one knows how it got there. It was reported to us on July 4th when a Boy Scouts leader dropped by the Trekker booth. But the scouts didn’t install it. Neither did the city, at least not the people we talked to. And the Madera habitat restoration group knew nothing of it. So who built the bench?

It took some knowledge and effort to install, and shows an obvious interest in the Hillside Natural Area. These are just the characteristic that we in the Trekkers appreciate. But that area of the park is currently undergoing habitat restoration efforts and such installations without consulting the various interested parties runs the risk of damaging ongoing work.IMG_1659

So if you know who built the bench why not ask them to drop us a line? We’d love to work with them in the future to help maintain and improve the Hillside Natural Area. We can be reached at ectrailtrekkers@gmail.com.


Photos by T. Aaronson


Hidden Poetry 3

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