Named after the unstoppable Chester Nimitz, last Fleet Admiral of the U.S. Navy and Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during WWII, this trail follows closely to a ridge back running north-south through Tilden Park, a jewel of the East Bay Regional Park System. Former Berkeley resident Admiral Nimitz is also known for his transitioning the military out of wartime status and developing the nuclear submarine fleet, the major deterrent weapons system during the Cold War era. Nimitz Way was an access road to a Nike missile site back then, and the hike ends at the remnant hilltop launch pads with spectacular 360 degree views. The trail is also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the East Bay Skyline Regional Trail, testimony to its unique position in the area geography.
Beginning at Inspiration Point parking area, this popular paved trail has something for everyone. There is a dirt path which can be found shortly after beginning the hike, running alongside the left side of the pavement. It is a good way to avoid bikes and other traffic on weekends and other busy times. Leading west through dual rock pillars with a Nimitz Way sign, the route gently rolls along with sweeping views left across the Bay to the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and San Francisco, especially scenic when summer fog is coming on shore, providing a dramatic backdrop and cooling breeze for hikers and new arrivals wanting to get an overview of the Bay Area. When there is fog present, it can get windy and cold, so bring a windbreaker for those conditions. There is no water along the route, carry extra especially on hot summer days. Occasional rest benches at thoughtful locations invite a contemplative relaxed mood, enhanced by the expansive views to east and west horizons. Watch for the bench on the right under a tree facing west for an especially nice place to take a break and view Mt. Diablo.
Stay on the paved trail as the miles easily roll past. After passing through a substantial grove of mostly eucalyptus trees on both sides of the trail, cross a cattle crossing gate and enter an open area giving distant views of the trail ascending up to the missile site. Although it looks a long way off, the last segment is only deceptively distant and the easy grade is worth taking for the 360 degree view. Watch for the small short road to the missle site leading right at the top of the long climb up the solitary hill. The flat concrete remains are a good but often windy spot to enjoy lunch with an unforgettable view. After lunch retrace the hike back to Inspiration Point.