Running in the 'Meda: Tilden Park

Running in the 'Meda: Tilden Park

Marty Beene

Do you like to run up and down steep hills? Then have I got a run for you!

This week, let's go to the southern end of Tilden Park. One of the most fun attractions in this park for children (OK, for lots of grownups, too) is to ride the steam train. It's quite a set-up they have there, and it is indeed a fun activity. But just a short distance away are a couple of great running trails that are part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail system.

My favorite of these trails is the Seaview Trail, which goes about three miles up towards the Nimitz Trail, thus making a nice six-mile out-and-back run. You can either park in the steam train parking lot, which has restrooms and a drinking fountain, or in a gravel lot a couple hundred yards away.

Take the paved maintenance road up the hill for your introduction to the kind of hills to expect on this run. The road curves around Vollmer Peak and heads north. For a little extra calorie burn, bear left to stay on the paved road when the dirt/gravel road (the actual Seaview Trail) branches off to the right, and climb up the super, super steep incline to the peak. My cycling friends and I have occasionally challenged ourselves to try to actually pedal all the way up, and someone dubbed it "Voldemort Peak" because of its evil slope.

Once you're on the Seaview Trail itself you begin a seemingly unending series of steep ups and downs, many of them littered with rocks and roots. You have to be careful for most of the length of this trail to avoid turning your ankle. The reward for your efforts, however, is spectacular views of the sea (hence, the name) and points east, like Mount Diablo. These views are even more amazing at this time of year because the air is usually relatively clear, and the hills are still green for at least a few more weeks.

When you complete about two and a half miles, you will come to a long downhill toward the end of the trail at Wildcat Canyon Road. Remember that what goes down, must come up, so if you're not feeling that strong, this might be a good place to turn back.

Another option from the steam train parking lot is to follow the Ridge Trail in the opposite direction of the Seaview Trail. Look for the trail marker just on the other side of Lomas Cantadas Road from the parking lot. That trail has a little less in the way of views, but some very nice single track trail mileage. There is also some access to the East Bay Municipal Utility District trail system not far from the trailhead.

To get to the steam train parking lot from Alameda, head through the Caldecott Tunnel as if you're on your way to Walnut Creek. Be in the far right bore so you can take the very first exit on the east side of the hills, Fish Ranch Road. Follow Fish Ranch up to a four-way-stop intersection and turn right onto Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Lomas Cantadas Road, which leads to the main parking lot, is about a mile from Fish Ranch.

Enjoy, and keep a lookout for the cute little bunny rabbits that live along the trail!

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, and registration for his Mountain Running Retreat in June is now live - visit his web site for more information. Marty can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.