When life gives you water – take waterfall walks

MONTCLARION: March 25, 2011

When life gives you water – find waterfalls. This week’s wet weather is spawning some of the most beautiful waterfalls in recent memory – and they’re splashing down in a park near you.

One of my favorite waterfall hikes is the six-mile Falls Trail up the back side of Mt. Diablo. It starts along a scenic stretch of Donner Creek (off Marsh Creek Rd. in Clayton) and ascends into the foothills on switchback trails that offer soul-stirring views of four waterfalls. Kids love this hike because you cross the creek in several places, either by puddle-jumping on rocks or balancing on logs. Be sure to wear good, waterproof hiking boots and plan for a rigorous five to six hour hike, with stops.

Mt. Tam is another waterfall favorite. Park your car at the Pantoll Ranger Station and take the easy two-mile trail past waterfalls and brooks, over wooden footbridges and past lush ferns and wildflowers. If you plan ahead, you can book an overnight at the rustic retreat called the West Point Inn, built in 1904 as a stopover on the famed Mount Tamalpais Railway line.

Even the more elevation-challenged parks in the Oakland Hills have waterfalls right now. I walked the trail down to Girls Camp in Redwood Regional Park, this week, and found several small splashers tumbling down hillsides and over rocks in the swollen creek. Big or small – they’re all delightful.

Around town: Don’t blame every store closure on the economy. The co-owner of the recently shuttered shop called Re4m says sales were up when a dispute with her partner forced them to close. Lisa Tana says she is considering a new venture and will let us know if she opens another business in the area.

Email bag: The fur is flying over my recent reports on the campaign to control vicious dogs in Oakland. Here are a few of this week’s comments:

Dorothy Brooks says her daughter was attacked by a large unleashed dog while she was jogging in the hills over the holidays. “We subsequently learned this dog had bitten two other neighbors,” she writes, “but these bites were never reported to Animal Control.” The dog was returned to its owner – something that would not have happened if the other victims had turned in reports.

Maggie Harmon sees things a bit differently, as a woman who walks her three dogs in Redwood Park. “I know we all have to share these parks but there are only a few places we can hike with our dogs off leash so [I] would suggest that people who do not like dogs choose dog-free or leash required trails. As for the bad dogs that attack, don’t let a few bad apples spoil the bunch – dogs are wonderful, intelligent, kind companion animals.”

Play ball: The crack of the bat and the smell of the sausage can only mean one thing – it’s baseball season. Letsgooakland.com is sponsoring a free tailgate party April 1 at the home opener for the Oakland A’s with free hotdogs, beer and Oaklandish “Stay” t-shirts (while they last) from 4-7 pm in Parking Lot A. What a way to ring in the season!


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