Best spots in the Bay to pitch a tent

TimeOut.com came out with an interesting list recently, about the 12 best places to pitch your tent and go camping in the Bay Area. One of the biggest perks of living where we do is access to the beautiful outdoors in any direction. We have great camping on Mt. Diablo right in our backyard which has amazing sunset views, or we can go out on the coast or up into the mountains to get an even bigger thrill.

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I’ve taken a few of TimeOut’s suggestions and curated a list with my favorites to combine into a top-5 camping must-visit list in our area. Where are your favorite spots to camp? Add to the list!

Pantoll Campground (Mt. Tamalpais)

Pantoll Campground is a phenomenally-located area on the windy roads of Mt. Tam. There are hiking trails (including some long ones down to the beach see previous blog – great hike) and good-sized campgrounds with tables and fire pits under heavy tree cover. It’s first-come, first-served, so get there early!

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur)

This is a hike-in campground, but you can’t beat the beauty of Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns. You can hike all around the campground, enjoy a picturesque, relaxing night under the stars listening to the ocean, and even see McWay Falls, which tumble into the Pacific. It’s truly a beautiful place to pitch your tent.

Juniper and Live Oak Campground (Mt. Diablo)

You know I had to get one on this list in our own backyard. Mt. Diablo, for all its splendor, is an even better place to hike, bike and camp. One of the best spots is Juniper and Live Oak Campground, which gives you spacious campsites and unbelievable views of all of the Bay Area.

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Desolation Wilderness (Lake Tahoe)

This is cheating, a little bit. Lake Tahoe is not in the vicinity of the Bay Area, but it’s close enough that you can make a last-minute trip up there. If you want to camp in the gorgeous Desolation Wilderness, among the peaks and lakes, you will have to plan ahead. Get a permit, prepare to hike, and bring some snacks. You won’t regret it.  This is one my favorites as I love Tahoe and the surrounding area.

Redwood Regional (Oakland)

I’ll be honest – I knew about Redwood Regional near Oakland, but I had no idea it was a prime camping spot. This is a good place to go if you want something different from Mt. Diablo, don’t want to tangle with dozens of other campers for a spot, and don’t want to drive hours to get somewhere. California is famous for its redwoods, so hang a hammock here and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature.

Road Trips: Albany Bulb

With this installation of Road Trips, we’re taking a bit more of a bohemian angle. Fittingly, we’ll be going just to the fringe of Berkeley, to the little town of Albany. It’s not for a park, or a theater, or anything like that. I’m actually recommending a visit to a landfill with a wild history and a ton of unique art.

In the late 1930’s, the creation of the Albany “Bulb” began. Land was leveled and moved around and pushed into the Albany peninsula for the creation of the racetrack at Golden Gate Fields. Over time, the land was protected by Save The Bay, and became somewhat of a lost project. For many years, the peninsula served as an occasional hiking and dog-walking spot, as well as being home to many local species of plants and animals.

Eventually, the Bulb became a homeless haven, with as many as 60 squatters living there before being evicted (some forcibly) by local authorities. While that population was on the Bulb, they created sculptures, and paintings, and even a makeshift library that has since been burned to the ground. But, today, it is still a sight to see: views of the Bay, art everywhere, unique traces of generations past.

For those who aren’t into the graffiti, wooden art or macabre feel (kinda feels like a scene from The Walking Dead), there is a beach nearby that dogs can be on without a leash. The Albany Bulb is a weird, exciting, confusing display of East Bay history.

You can easily spend half a day wandering its pathways and finding strange art from decades ago. Try going out there on a nice day, and you can always go back into Berkeley for a nice lunch or dinner on your way home!

Enjoy some gorgeous hikes before summer ends!

With the warm summer weather starting to tail off a bit, all you hikers will want to get out there and hit these last few trails before the season changes completely. Here are four great hike ideas close to San Francisco, from Time Out San Francisco.

  1. Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
  2. Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
  3. Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
  4. Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.

Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.

It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!

Time for this summer to get in-tents!

Hah, get it? It’s officially summer in the Bay Area (if you couldn’t tell by the triple-digit heat…), which means it’s time for you to plan some fun camping trips!

Luckily, we live in one of the most serene, nature-filled parts of the country and dozens of great campgrounds are just a short drive away. That brings me to this list of local campgrounds provided by Placer Title Company.

Some you’ve probably heard of, some you haven’t, but either way you can’t beat the Northern California summer. Some of my favorite areas are Tahoe (of course) and the Redwoods.

On this list, I can’t recommend the Tahoe State Recreation Area, Big Basin or Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite, so get reservations like…yesterday!) enough. I’ve also found that Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe is an amazing, remote spot for hike-in camping.

If you have kids, Angel Island is a simple ferry ride (also fun for the kiddos!) and close enough to home that you can do an easy one-nighter. Obviously, if you want to be extremely close to home in the East Bay, hit up Mt. Diablo. They have pretty great campgrounds and almost every single one has a great view of the entire East Bay.

I love camping, whether it be in a car or a tent, in the warm NorCal summers. Check out that list, pack your car, and take a weekend off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Our natural surroundings are some of the best parts about living in California, so take advantage of it soon!

Following Up: Honeybees!

A few weeks back, we did the Parkmead Garden Tour. I spoke to one resident who is a honeybee keeper. In addition to the Beekeeper who was there to speak, I learned a lot about honeybees.

For example, did you know that a honeybee has to travel more than 55,000 miles and has to visit about 2 million flowers just to produce one pound of honey? Or that they can fly 15 miles per hour? 

Beekeeping is a hobby that seems to be picking up popularity, especially around the Bay Area. Much like composting, its attraction is that it’s a sustainable, healthy way to provide for oneself and the community around us. It’s been common knowledge for years that the bee population is quickly dying off, and their extinction would have a horrific effect on the planet’s ecosystem.

So, I also snagged some basic information on beekeeping resources around the Bay Area! If you want to learn more about the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA), visit this link! If you’re interested in starting beekeeping, you can find supplies at MarElla Honey B’s in Concord, Biofuel Oasis/Urban Farm Store in Berkeley, and many others around the Bay Area.

If you’d simply like to attract more bees to your garden to help increase the population and improve your pollination, plant flowers that they like! For example, blackberries and raspberries, fireweed, lavender, oregano, rosemary and sunflower are a few that really attract heavy pollination.  

Here are a few more fun facts for you to finish out our blog on honeybees:

  • A typical beehive makes more than 400 lbs of honey per year
  • A honeybee will flap its wings about 11,400 times per minute, creating the familiar “buzz” sound
  • Honeybees are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.

So when you see a bee nearby, don’t run or swat at it, but think of the good they do and then briskly walk away!

Old Borges Ranch Day this Saturday

This Saturday, you can join Walnut Creek City staff for Old Borges Ranch Day. How cool is that? There will be arts, crafts, activities, games, livestock demonstrations, ponies and fiddlers.

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Borges Ranch is the little farm nestled into the foothills of Mt. Diablo, on the southeast side of Shell Ridge. It was established in 1899 by Francisco Borges and is a living example of what an early-20th century California cattle ranch looked like.

Many of the original buildings still exist, including the Borges family home which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981 and is part of the Mt. Diablo State Park with an on-site ranger. Sheep, goats, and other livestock roam the farm and welcome hikers who wander past during their Open Space treks.

The almost 400-acre ranch would be a great place for the family to spend a lazy Saturday, and a great learning experience for young kids. I went on a field trip with my now-21-year-old son when he was in the 4th grade; we went back there to get polliwogs, which lived in his bedroom until they turned to frogs. Then we let them go into the creek by Las Lomas – some great memories.

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Image from walnut-creek.org

The event this Saturday will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you can park at Northgate High School and shuttle in and out. It costs just $5 per family to take part!

Don’t miss waterfalls on Mt. Diablo!

Want to know about one of the East Bay’s best-kept secrets? When it rains like it has for the past few weeks, the little trickles on the Clayton side of Mt. Diablo turn into magnificent waterfalls!

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And there’s a 6-7 mile hike loop that takes you past all of them. If you live in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you enjoy outdoor activities like me. Hiking in the Open Space or up on Mt. Diablo is one of my favorite pastimes, and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful region full of options.

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One of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team members went on the hike last weekend on a sunny day and was blown away by the amount of water that transformed the waterfalls into full-blown spectacles. It’s a can’t-miss this season!

To get to that entrance, get into Clayton on Marsh Creek Rd. or Clayton Rd. and take a right on a residential street called Regency Dr. (just past the middle school). Take that street to the end, and you’ll be at the Regency Gate, which opens up to a few trailheads. The map there will tell you which one is the loop for the falls!

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At the top of the biggest, baddest waterfall they’ve got (not pictured, but now the surprise isn’t ruined!), there’s a pretty cozy little spot off the trail to stop, sit and take in the view. Pack a small picnic and enjoy the beauty Mt. Diablo offers and the spectacle the rainy season has brought. You’ll thank me later!  Happy Trails

Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

FullSizeRender-2Having a bad hair day?

Apparently you’re not the only one…This wild turkey, spotted near Walnut & Marshall, just discovered that he’s bald!

Vanity withstanding, he is definitely not alone!  I was driving away in my Mini after an Open House at my listing in Clayton, when I came around the corner and — to my surprise — found a gang of turkeys (yes, “gang” is the technical term for a group of turkeys)!

I have seen a few gangs here and there around Walnut Creek, and many at the Lafayette Reservoir! This got me thinking: do we have a turkey problem?

Lo and behold, it’s been an issue in the East Bay since the early 2000’s. Apparently, the turkeys continue to move East, oftentimes destroying gardens, nicking paint on cars and leaving cement-like patties of you know what along the way.

FullSizeRender-1Here are a few facts about the wild turkey that were new to me:

  • There are almost 7 million wild turkeys nationwide
  • They have 5,500 feathers and males have 18 distinct tail feathers
  • Ranging from 5-20 pounds, they can run at speeds up to 25 mph and fly at 55 mph

Watch yourself around gangs of turkeys, too! By nature, they have a proud demeanor and protective instincts, with vision three times better than humans – maybe the turkey above couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

So, think twice before trying to score a free Thanksgiving meal when you see these guys on the street.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!