Tilden Nature Area

  • Visitor center
  • Playground
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking

Features

  • Visitor center
  • Playground
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking

Information

Website:
visit link
Address:
600 Canon Dr., Berkeley, CA, 94708
Region:
San Francisco Bay Area
Phone:
Info: 510 544-2233
Hours:
Trails: 5am – 10pm
Dogs:
Not allowed, service animals OK
Last Visited:
June 2022
Tilden Nature Area is at the northern part of Tilden Regional Park which encompasses 740-acres and is centered around a developed canyon with a lake (Lake Anza), a nature center, a childrens’ farm, a large merry-go-round that dates to 1911, a botanical garden (minimally wheelchair accessible), an elegant event hall (the Brazil Building), group picnic areas, and a golf course, all of which are very popular. A dense network of trails climbs into the scenic hills above the canyon, offering views of San Francisco and San Pablo Reservoir; the majority of which are inaccessible to wheelchair users. Wildcat Creek and Loop Road Trails (reviewed here) and Nimitz Way Trail (aka Inspiration Point) at the Park's northern boundry, offer the greatest accessibility.

Trails and Pathways

Trail:
Wildcat Creek Trail
Time to Complete:
45 minutes
Trailhead Location:
Up the road from the parking lot
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Gentle
Typical Terrain:
Firm
Trail Overview: Wildcat Creek Trail stretches nearly 5 miles from Tilden Park to Wildcat Canyon Park however, only the first mile is accessible. Alternatively, if you start from the Alvarado staging area at Wildcat Canyon Park, two miles (one way) might be accessible to some especially those using motorized/power-assist wheelchairs as there are several steep grades.

Start from the parking lot and at the roundabout follow the road instead of heading towards the Nature Center. You immediately feel far removed from urban life on this tree lined trail.  It starts on asphalt but after .1 mile becomes compacted earth and gravel. On the left, at .2-miles, a spur trail (boardwalk) takes you through a dense swamp-like area shaded with creek dogwoods with birdsong filling the air. After .2-mile it reconnects with the main trail. If you don’t take the boardwalk and instead continue on the main trail look for a path on the right that leads to a large viewing deck.

Further along the main trail, a bridge on the left crosses Wildcat Creek to Lower Packrat Trail. Tree roots and erosion at the start of the trail require careful navigation but you'll shortly be rewarded when it emerges next to Jewel Lake, a serene spot with benches good for lingering and looking for sunning turtles. The trail becomes impassable in a wheelchair from here. 

Back on the main trail you'll continue past eucalyptus, bay laurel, and oak trees before the view opens up to reveal a grassy hillside on one side while the other side slightly reveals the canyon wall with a creek below. Turkeys are commonly seen and buzzards and other birds may be seen circling overhead. In the early mornings one might see rabbits in the distance.

At .7 mile a gate with a wide opening (at least 32 inches) and a change in surface (more gravel) seems to indicate that you are now entering Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Here I encountered the only grade that is slightly greater than 8% (an ADA compliant ramp is 8%) and at 1.2 miles I had to turn back due to an impassable rutted section that was likely caused by run-off. My companion that doesn’t have a mobility disability scouted the trail beyond this point and reported that the terrain quickly becomes steep and even more rutted so I would have likely had to turn back where I did anyway.

More Info: The far end of the bridge has a 1.5 inch threshold at it's highest spot. The first portion of the trail is level. Further on past Jewel Lake gentle slopes are more frequent. The only grade I encountered that is slightly greater than 8% (an ADA ramp is 8%) is at about ¾ miles. The boardwalk is too narrow for wheelchairs and strollers to pass each other but there are pullouts. Initially the surface is hardened earth embedded with small stones that can be bumpy and after passing the gate (.7 miles) changes to aged asphalt with a layer of small stones that may prove slightly hindering for some.






At .3 mile a 10-foot stretch had a new layer of large size gravel that can be hard for some to manage.
The path around Jewel lake has some uneven areas where tree roots are exposed.
Trail:
Loop Road
Time to Complete:
45 minutes
Trailhead Location:
Across from the bridge to Jewel Lake
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Elevation Change
138 ft.
Typical Grade:
Gentle
Typical Terrain:
Firm, Hard
Trail Overview: This pleasant eucalyptus lined fire road has a continuous gradual incline much of the way. On my visit it was filled with bird song and the pungent odor of eucalyptus. At .4 is the junction to Laurel Canyon trail but with it's very steep approach I opted to continue forward. At .7 mile there are two paths that eventually lead back to the nature center but require traversing a few different terrains, including a large lawn. We continued another .1 mile to the undevolped parking area and then retraced our steps to reconnect with Wildcat Creek Trail. We encountered very few people but could occasionally hear, although not see, campers at the group campsites which are scattered towards the far end of the trail.
More Info: The steepest incline is halfway out but still less than 8% (A typical ramp is 8%) At .4 mile the trail surface is smoother.

Accessibility Features

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%

Accessible Restroom:
Yes – Accessible restrooms are by the barn and in the Environmental Education Center. There’s no accessible toilets along the trail.

Accessible Picnic Table:
firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance; There is one marginally accessible picnic table by the accessible parking: It is located on the top of a short slope, on one side there is no bench and the table itself is on rough ground. Accessible tables & restrooms are available at Big Leaf picnic area at the intersection of Central Park Dr. and Canon Dr.

Accessible Visitor Center:
Yes – At the Environmental Education Center (EEC) you can explore Wildcat Creek watershed exhibits, learn about park activities, and purchase nature-related books and materials. Open Tues. - Sun., 10am - 4:30pm

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