A six-path day in the Berkeley Hills: Part I

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Another beautiful view from the Berkeley Hills

I’d plaIMG_1956nned to drive to the end of Hill Road and pick up Scott Newhall Path (#79) at its northern entrance. But when I drove up to where I thought it should be, I saw only large estates with long driveways and gates, and lots of “No Parking” signs along the road. So I drove round on Grizzly Peak and parked across from where Hill Path (#66) will be one day, according to my map.

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Squint and you can see the bench on the right

From there I found the west entrance to Atlas Path (#81), which has a wooden post showing the way rather than the standard-issue metal sign from the City of Berkeley. I followed the path as it gently meandered between houses and a few trees until it opened up to a clear, sunny patch, where I discovered an inviting bench and a plastic armchair by its side. It seemed rude not to graciously accept such an offer, so I sat a minute and enjoyed the view.

At the top of Atlas Path, I was supposed to turn left onto the part of Hill Road that lies on the southern side of Scott Newhall Path, but I saw no signage and mistakenly continued onto Atlas Place until I bumped into the edge of Tilden Park on one side and Ajax Place on the other.

I retraced my steps and followed the map, despite the feeling that I was on someone’s driveway rather than walking down a public street. It indeed ended at someone’s house, but off to the right was an unmarked path. So I took it.

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south entrance to path
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north entrance to Scott Newhall Path

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A tall fence ran tightly along the left side of the flat dirt path, and thick foliage bordered it on the right, but eventually it opened up so I could see the incredibly steep hillside. And when I reached the other end, I was at the cul-de-sac where I’d driven before but couldn’t find the path. Now on foot, I searched more carefully, but I never saw anything that declared it as Scott Newhall Path. However, I did see another No Parking sign that was almost completely hidden. But take a look at the photo and tell me if you think it looks like a public passage.

IMG_1966IMG_1970I continued as the unmarked Scott Newhall Path became Hill Road again and marveled at the variety of architecture that allows a structure to be built on such a steep hillside and the design elements that make the best of that incline.

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Just before the road ends at Shasta, where there’s a fire station, I saw a long line of mailboxes. It reminded me of rural postal routes one finds out in the country. I suppose it is a lot to expect of our postal carriers to wind through the labyrinth of the Berkeley Hills next to Tilden Regional Park where residences are huge, far apart, and off the beaten path.

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Tilden Path
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Just a fun mailbox I saw along the way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there I turned back onto Grizzly Peak, which would have led me back to where I began. But en route I made a discovery: Tilden Path (#65)–which I had skipped when I reached it numerically because it was marked as unbuilt–was open and completely passable. So I changed my route on the spot and headed down Tilden Path. Because I’m flexible. (I am!) A quick succession of railroad ties lined with yellow grasses turned into a flat shady walkway that was lush with ferns and bamboo. Midway through I came across a badminton net on the greenest lawn in the Bay Area I’ve seen since we’ve been in a drought. I have to assume it was that new fake grass; but it was in someone’s back yard, so it’s not like I was going to sneak through the rip in the fencing to touch it and check.

IMG_1983Landing on Queens Road, I saw an unusual parking space, especially in this area that has very few sidewalks and no commercial business. I assumed the resident is a UC Berkeley professor, since the campus is a short (but windy) drive from there. With its twenty-two Nobel Laureates, I suppose this is not the only sign of its kind in Berkeley.

Tomorrow: Part II!

 

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