Open meadows in the East Bay?
March 11, 2017 9:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm located near the Berkeley hills (SF Bay Area). There are lots of great forested trails around here, but I have a desire to wander in more of a wide-open meadow setting. Any recommendations nearby?
posted by aws17576 to Travel & Transportation around Hayward, CA (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Where do meadows come from? Elevation, fire, intense grazing, very shallow/bad soil, and other disturbances. In absence of that, woody plants take over in most places, baring human management. I'm pretty sure there aren't any alpine meadows right in town, and there's been no natural fire regime in Berkeley for a rather long time.

So within a short drive or bike I don't know of many natural options, and maintained park spaces may be as close as you'll get. There's some meadow-y areas around the Berkeley marina, including native wildflowers blooming at various times of the year.

Farther out (within a 1-3 hr drive, depending), look for the Serpentine: this trail in Redwood City looks like it might be just what you want. Serpentines are sort of weird/ "bad" soils that prevent a lot of "normal" plants from flourishing, and so you get more open spaces, interesting rocks, and smaller-statured plants. Check out a causal search of images for what can be found in the Serpentine ecoregions of CA.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sibley Volcanic Preserve has some fairly open vistas and hilltops.
posted by Lexica at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Portions of Chabot park are pretty open, though it's been a while so I don't remember exactly what parts. I thiiiink it was an entrance/trailhead on the more north end, but not one of the ones directly across from Redwood regional, a bit past that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:14 AM on March 11, 2017

Oh! Also Briones, but it's farther away.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:15 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cesar Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina is 100% artificial landfill but it's as wide-open as it gets.
posted by theodolite at 10:15 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also: it's an hour drive but Helen Putnam Regional Park near Petaluma is basically the old Windows XP background as a park.

Point Reyes also has plenty of meadow.
posted by theodolite at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you take BART to Orinda (or drive, but BART works), you can walk to the Siesta Valley Recreation Area. Here's a meadow there covered in poppies. If you have a car, there are lots of hikes like this a little deeper into the East Bay.
posted by pinochiette at 11:53 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

A second vote for Briones. Mt. Diablo also has a lot of trails running through open space.
posted by extramundane at 11:55 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Briones is my favorite grassland park. It's also active ranchland, so there are cattle there that hang out and graze next to the path. It is the consummate pastoral setting. And it's not all ranch land, so there are some grassy meadows, too. If you have a car, it's actually not a bad drive from the Berkeley hills: if you take Wildcat Canyon Rd out of Tilden (towards Orinda) and keep going straight (it turns into Bear Creek Rd), it'll take you directly to a park entrance. You can also get there really easily from 24. It's probably my favorite park in the Bay Area. It's very peaceful. It's well worth the drive.

If you want to go further out, nobody has mentioned it yet, but Black Diamond Mines Regional Park is also an awesome park with a lot of open meadows and grassland (I have never gone there without seeing a bunch of turkeys). Plus, you can take a tour of one of the mines. But Mt. Diablo is closer, and it also has some great open spaces.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2017

Seconding Siesta Valley, lots of good open grassy areas and it is only a short walk from BART. Be aware you'll need an EBMUD trail permit to go hiking there!
posted by Brassica oleracea at 1:28 PM on March 11, 2017

sunol regional wilderness
posted by mrzz at 1:39 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek.
posted by missmary6 at 2:26 PM on March 11, 2017

Maybe check out Pt Pinole.
posted by gnutron at 3:39 PM on March 11, 2017

Forests are only common where there is enough rain to support trees. Head a bit inland and there's nothing but expanses of grass. On the edge of Alameda County, Brushy Peak" is basically nothing but meadows. There's a good reason it's used for grazing. Obviously, during the dry season it's dry grass, but right now things are green as can be. No water, so bring your own. A bit more central (and much more peopled) is Pleasanton Ridge. Both don't even have a parking fee.
posted by wnissen at 9:21 PM on March 11, 2017

Here is an entrance to Chabot park that I vaguely remember was meadowy.
posted by actionstations at 11:28 PM on March 11, 2017

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