Cassie at Mission Creek Preserve. Photo: Sean Ness (CC)
What would the East Bay be without its regional parks—all 65 of them?
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) marks its 80th birthday this year, and as a thank-you to its many users EBRPD is offering, “Free 3rd Fridays” each month for the remainder of the year. Perks include free parking, free boat launching, free entry for dogs and horses, waived swimming fees and free fishing permits.
At other times, regular fees apply—but they’re hardly prohibitive. And as seasoned DogTrekkers know, EBRPD parks come with bonuses for our dogs. Sometimes, canine visitors don’t have to be on a leash at all.
Our readers continue to be astonished by the wealth of possibilities, from ocean beaches to inland lakes to rolling hills, offered by the EBRPD’s 65 parks spanning 114,000 acres in Contra Costa and neighboring Alameda counties.
You’ll find many opportunities spelled out in the EBRPD hiking pages and listings on DogTrekker.com.
Some of the parks are literally in the back yard of bustling Oakland and Berkeley, while others feel so remote you’d never know a city was nearby.
Almost all the 1,200 miles of trails that run through them are dog friendly. Away from developed areas, it’s legal to un-clip the leash and let your best buddy hike untethered (but please familiarize yourself with policies regarding dogs, dog safety and manners before setting out.)
Now that summer’s here, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that hiking in hot weather requires more forethought and preparation than hiking in cooler months of the year.
The EBRPD staff has issued warnings about challenging hikes in open terrain, such as the Hidden Valley Trail at Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, where park staff often sees dogs suffering from dehydration, heat stroke and foot injury.
Tips supplied by the district include offering water to your dog every time you drink, taking frequent rest breaks in the shade and putting booties on your dog’s feet to guard against abrasion.
(A tip from DogTrekker: if commercially manufactured dog booties are not within your budget, try making your own out of duct tape, vet wrap and duct tape or duct tape and a motorcycle inner tube.)
Other tips: Stay on trails to avoid ticks, poison oak, foxtails and encounters with skunks, rattlesnakes and other wildlife.
After every hike, check your dog carefully for ticks (which can carry Lyme disease), stickers and embedded foxtails, which can cause severe infection leading to huge vet bills.