Prettiest Vistas of the East Bay

Take in the grandeur of the Bay Area from these 12 stellar destinations.


Published:

(page 4 of 5)

David Abercrombie (CC)

Castle Rock.

 

Rock Castles in the Sky

The main attraction at Diablo Foothills Regional Park is not majestic Mount Diablo, which looms close by, but rather the Castle Rock formations rising up dramatically from Pine Canyon.

This unusual castle-like outcropping features tall parallel ridges of sandstone derived from millions of years of sediments, which eventually turned 90 degrees to be vertical instead of horizontal. The rock formations themselves are closed from Feb. 1 to July 31 to protect nesting peregrine falcons, but you may spot intrepid climbers from our viewing spot the rest of the year, as well as soaring raptors such as peregrines, redtail hawks, and even golden eagles.

For the 2-mile hike to get to Castle Rock, park at Livorna Staging Area on Livorna Road, 1.5 miles east of Interstate 680 in Alamo. Walk up the Foothills and Stonegate Trails. Bear left on the Mokelumne Coast-to-Crest Trail and 50 yards later, take the Buckeye Ravine Trail to the right. After about 80 yards, ascend the unmarked trail that branches off to the left; climb a hill and continue on the ridge for this unique vista.

 

Ingrid Taylar (CC)

Coyote Hills.

 

Wetlands, Wildlife, and Water

At the edge of San Francisco Bay near Union City, Fremont, and Newark, Coyote Hills Regional Park is a wetlands preserve featuring nearly 1,000 acres of varied bird habitat interspersed with miles of flat hiking and biking trails.

The Chochenyo Trail leads to a 2,000-year-old Tuibin Ohlone shellmound; in recent centuries, the area has been used for duck hunting, farming, and ranching, salt production, and even Nike missiles. Now, it’s a regional park, where spectacular bay views can be discovered by walking less than a mile from the visitor’s center.

Take either the Nike Trail or the Soaproot Trail to the Red Hill Trail, and ascend to the windy summit (with picnic table). From here, the hill descends sharply 300 feet to San Francisco Bay, with its fascinating patchwork of salt evaporation ponds and restored wetlands in a national wildlife refuge, and the South Bay, bridges, and cities beyond. From Interstate 880, take exit 22 for Alvarado Boulevard toward Fremont Boulevard North and follow signs to the park.

 

ingrid Taylar (CC)

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

 

Of Cranes and Birds

Tucked among the iconic gantry cranes of the Oakland International Container Terminal is a 38-acre public park, Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, with magnificent water views of San Francisco, the bay, and the bridges. After driving or biking through acres of massive shipping containers and rails, the Oakland park comes as an unlikely green surprise with its restored salt marshes, tidelands, and flocks upon flocks of shoreline birds foraging in the mudflats.

You will find plenty of free parking, benches, picnic tables, restrooms, water fountains, two miles of paved trails, interpretive signs, an amphitheater, and an observation tower. The views are expansive and unbeatable from any vantage point. The industrial activities on the edges of the park are fascinating, as are the colorful passing cargo container ships on the water.

Birdwatching is rewarding, thanks to the Port of Oakland’s ongoing habitat improvement. The park is open daily, but the best time to visit is on the weekend when the port maritime activities and associated big-rigs are quiet, though when they are working, that is spellbinding to behold.

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