Running in the 'Meda: The Nimitz Way Trail

Running in the 'Meda: The Nimitz Way Trail

Marty Beene

A runner enjoys the Nimitz Way Trail. Photo by Marty Beene.

This week, my series on great places to run in the East Bay continues with the Nimitz Way Trail that begins in Tilden Park at Inspiration Point.

I ran on this trail a couple of times many years ago, and I must have had some kind of senior moment (or decade or two) to have not continued to run there as often as possible. I took my Kaiser Permanente employee training group there last month for a run and was reminded what a terrific place it is.

The trail is paved for about four miles, extending into Wildcat Canyon Regional Park and bordering East Bay Municipal Utility District watershed land above San Pablo Reservoir. As with many East Bay trails, the views are spectacular on clear days.

On the day that I ran it last month, I had the good fortune to witness some wildlife activity that I'd never seen before. Around three miles or so from the parking area, I noticed some animals in the distance running around. They were a group of young coyotes, playing like you would expect domesticated dogs to play at your local dog park. They were having a ball, chasing each other and making quite a racket: "Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip!!" Eventually, they ran off into the bushes, leaving their audience in stunned silence.

The actual running conditions on the trail are excellent. The pavement is in reasonably good condition, and the hills are mostly of the rolling variety, so not overly steep or long. The main trail is simply an out-and-back course, so it's easy to decide the distance you want to run. There are also numerous options to take side trails - see the park map for details. Parking is available, if somewhat limited, at the trailhead, and there are restrooms there, too (but no drinking water!). Note that there are no restrooms or water sources along the trail, so plan ahead.

Inspiration Point is a little tricky to reach, but I find that the easiest way to get there is to drive through the Caldecott Tunnel on Highway 24 and take the first exit (Fish Ranch Road). Follow the road as it takes you back around above the tunnels and climbs to a four-way stop intersection. Turn right onto Grizzly Peak Boulevard. At about 1.4 miles, turn right onto South Park Drive if it's open (from about April through October, when newts are not migrating) and follow to Wildcat Canyon Road. If it's not open, continue another 1.6 miles to the stop sign, and turn right onto Golf Course Drive. At just under a mile, veer right onto Shasta Road, then right again onto Wildcat Canyon Road. Continue past the point where South Park Drive intersects Wildcat for about 1.2 miles to the trailhead.

In other news, Alameda High School Assistant Coach Tony O'Toole and I competed in the all-comer track meet at Cal last Saturday (remember my recent blog post about all-comer meets?). We ran both the 800 meter and 3200 meter events, and we both exceeded our expectations. My time of 2:39.75 for the 800 was my best since 2006. This was the first time I ran the 3200, so my 12:37.63 was, technically, my best time ever!

In still other news, we joined a couple dozen members of the Alameda High Cross-Country team to go see the movie "McFarland, USA" on Sunday. It's an excellent, inspirational film about the 1987 high school boys team from that farming community (near Bakersfield) that won the small school division state cross country championship that year and several times in subsequent years. My favorite part is when one of the McFarland runners asks the guy next to him on the starting line if he plays golf. "Yeah," the kid responds. "This ain't golf," deadpans the McFarland runner, and the gun goes off. I will write a detailed review soon.

Keep telling me about favorite places to run by e-mail or in the comments - I've had one suggestion so far, which I will cover next week.

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. Marty still wants your opinions about his idea for a running retreat - he created a brief survey that you can complete here to help him out; he can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.