Dan joined Bay Nature in 2004. A onetime professional cabinetmaker, he considers himself a lifelong maker of things and teller of stories. Dan has been working at the intersection of journalism and technology since, at age 16, he began learning reporting, page layout, and database design. His enduring interest in environmental issues crystallized into a career path in 1998 when he assisted former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in a cross-disciplinary nature writing and ecology course at UC Berkeley, from which Dan received a Masters in English literature. In 1999, he became Associate Editor of Terrain, the erstwhile quarterly magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center. In addition to editing and art-directing Bay Nature magazine, he is also Bay Nature’s chief technology strategist, fixer of broken things, and designer of databases and fancy spreadsheets. And he has even been known to leave the office and actually hike outdoors.
Weekend bus serice to the East Bay Hills is pretty poor these days. After searching around for a while online, I figured out that the Juvenile Detention Center near Lake Chabot gets weekend service, as does Merritt College. Seems like there’s a parable there of some kind.
Note that 511 will throw an error because it assumes a max 1 mile from bus stop to destination. Google got it right for me.
A mile’s walk from Juvie gets you to the Chabot Marina, where you can stop at nice bathrooms, grab a cup of coffee, watch the kayakers launch, etc. Be sure to get a map at the entrance kiosk. The whole hike is covered on one map, including Leon Canyon.
Map in hand, head out on the south-side paved trail around the lake. Lots of anglers, joggers, walkers, and bicycles. But after about 1-3/4 miles, I turned right up the hill — a very steep hill! — and left most folks behind. You get nice views of the marshy southeastern arm of the lake as you ascend into the hills. The trail changes names as you go, but just stay on the Lake Chabot Bike Loop. Still, even on a gorgeous day, bikers were relatively rare up here.
Eventually you’ll cross the road and be on the Brandon Trail. Soon enough, you’ll hear shots from the nearby rifle range. This was the only downer on the route — the rifle shots, some jarringly loud, were audible for nearly an hour. I took the Escondido Trail for a change — a nice dip into a shady canyon, and into some oak/bay woodlands, which was refreshing after too much eucalyptus. You join back with the Brandon and eventually get to the Stone Bridge. Here you leave the Chabot bike loop and take the Brandon Trail on the west side of Grass Valley Creek.
Soon enough, you’ll reach Bort Meadow, a big, grassy, picnic and frisbee area. A faint track in the grass is the only clue that on the west side of the meadow, near some port-a-potties, the delightful singletrack Buckeye Trail winds steeply up a narrow canyon. Great bays and oaks and (in a year of normal rain) a little rushing creek.
From the Buckeye, take a right on the Goldenrod Trail. Follow that until you’ve just about lost hope, and then you’ll come to a discrete gate and garbage can on the left. That’s the entrance to the Oakland horse stables. Turn left down the driveway to Skyline Boulevard, which has a nice trail down the center of the median. Turn right and walk just a couple of short blocks downhill to Lexford Place, on the left.
That’s your entrance to Leon Canyon’s Artmesia Trail (marked on the left immediately as you walk toward Lexford). The trail plunges steeply into the canyon to the Leona Trail. Take a right on Leona. You’ll ascend more gently than you descended, and then you’ll emerge in the vast parking lots of Merritt College. I walked all the way around the back of the school looking for the bus stop. But you should be able to shoot right through the middle of campus to the stop near the main entrance.