Burrland, paths that don’t look like paths, and a mysterious staircase

Lawrence Hall of Science
Grizzly Peak entrance to Columbia Walk. I know–it doesn’t look like a public path, does it?

Last week I took on the multi-sectioned Glendale Path (#82, #83, and #84). Since I’d stumbled upon La Loma Path (#85) earlier in the year, I was ready to walk through the upper 80s. But when I consulted my trusty path wanderers map, I discovered that though they were named, Delmar Path (#86), Parnassus Path (#87), and Columbia Path (#88 & 89 for both upper and lower parts) are as yet unbuilt. Which catapulted me up to #90, Columbia Walk. At this rate, I may just finish all of Berkeley’s paths by the end of the year after all…

We found a Little Free Library with very few books on Grizzly Peak near Hill Road, where we parked before embarking on our Friday adventure. I say “we” because my husband, Dave, joined me and brought along our intrepid pupIMG_2021, Ruby, and our current foster dog, Hayley.

Columbia Walk (#90) is clearly labeled but doesn’t look like a public path. Probably because the residence next to it has seemingly annexed that space into their backyard area, which is why the  photo of Dave et al looks like we’re hanging out at a friends’ barbecue. The path is flat, narrow, and mostly dirt with a few stones, except for when it’s part of a bricked patio.


Columbia ends on Fairlawn Drive, where it was a short jaunt to Terrace View Park. It wasn’t strictly on our itinerary, but with two dogs, how could we pass it up? A beautiful two-level recreational area, the upper section featured swings, trees, and a concrete slide, while the lower area has a basketball court and a lush, greIMG_2025en lawn. A lone child and mom/caretaker were enjoying some afternoon play, but otherwise it was quiet.

On a curve of Fairlawn Drive was a sign that was probably intended for traffic, but it could have been a general life philosophy.




Along Fairlawn Drive, we saw some beautiful houses and a uniquely placed bird house, designed, I suppose, to make it easier for birds to pick up their mail?


Our next scheduled stop should have been #91, Grizzly Path, but paths 91 through 95 were more paths that were named but not yet built. So we had to skip the paths named Grizzly, Summit, Avenida, Harding, and Wilson Path and go directly to Wilson Walk (#96).


Although I’d originally planned to enter Wilson  Walk (#96) on its west side, we took a detour. I could see from the map that we were on the edge of university property and I sensed a spectacular view nearby, so we continued on Olympus Avenue rather than turning left at Wilson Circle. Once off the road we spied a sign warning of mountain lion sightings. Luckily our dogs were on leash. Hradiation boxayley looked worried though.

Then Dave came across this radiation monitor, and it was my turn to worry. Why are they monitoring radiation in that spot? What do they know that I don’t? And who are they anyway?

Way upIMG_2039 in the hills above UC Berkeley, we could see the Lawrence Hall of Science just ahead of us to the south; and turning right we could view all of North Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay beyond. Fog obscured most of Golden Gate Bridge, but I could still see one section jutting out from Marin County seemingly to nowhere.

Rather than turn back, we skirted the edge of the university’s vast hillside, striking through a wooded area with no trail, curious to see where it took us. That led us to an extremely narrow staircase along a fence, and then we found ourselves traversing a forest, IMG_2041which turned out to be chock full of burrs. We all brought home hundreds of burrs apiece, but poor Hayley–she’s so low to the ground that her whole body was covered with them. We encountered some wild turkeys that Ruby was dying to play with, but thankfully we saw no mountain lions.

We never found an actual trail, but we did eventually end up where Centennial Drive meets Grizzly Peak, and we were greeted by a sign declaring that we were entering the City of Berkeley. So apparently we were in Oakland for a bit and didn’t even know it.

I didn’t know eggs grew on plants! Is this where eggplants come from too?

Back in residential Berkeley Hills, we came across an odd bush in someone’s front yard.

From Grizzly Peak we came upon the east end of Wilson Walk and proceeded across it. Partway down the path, there’s a wooden stairway attached to a house that follows alongside the path for a bit and then ends abruptly about eight feet off the ground. I have to wonder: Did there used to be something at the end of the stairs? Or did they stop building it halfway through, deciding they didn’t want access to and from the path. I guess I’ll never know.

Just a few of the many burrs we brought home

Wilson Way begins with a gradual decline but gets steeper toward the end. Beware: many of the nails holding the railroad ties in place protrude up from the steps, so don’t go bounding down the path barefoot. It’s a fairly short path, certainly shorter than the route we’d taken to get there. Which I suppose is the point of many of these paths–to cut across an area rather than having to go all the way around.

But sometimes it’s more fun to take the scenic route.

I just had to include this amazing mural we saw from the sidewalk inside a carport .


4 thoughts on “Burrland, paths that don’t look like paths, and a mysterious staircase

  1. LBNL is Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their address is 1 Cyclotron Way. So I suspect that’s a big clue who and why someone would be monitoring radiation. You think dogs escaping without a leash are bad, one or two gamma ray escaping your cyclotron can ruin your whole day.

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