BARTable by bike: Bay Trail, Berkeley to Richmond

If you're lucky, you'll spot Snoopy along the Bay Trail in Berkeley. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Editor's note: BART is currently running reduced service for essential travel. We are dispatching long trains even though ridership has been significantly reduced. We are doing this to ensure our riders can properly socially distance from one another. If you plan to ride BART, see our feature, Tips for riding BART during COVID-19.

Before heading out, make sure you understand local requirements on social distancing and wearing a mask. Alameda County and San Francisco city health officials require residents to wear face coverings any time they leave home and get within 30 feet of anyone not living in their household. If you need a mask, check out our feature, Bay Area businesses selling masks during COVID-19

Difficulty

• Short route: beginner
• Long route: advanced

Terrain

• Short route: mostly flat pavement
• Long route: mostly gradual ascending with some fast, technical descending on rough pavement

Cautions

• The route crosses a number of rail lines in Richmond; use extra caution crossing train tracks. Always make sure your bike is perpendicular to the tracks before crossing to ensure your wheels do not get caught in the gaps between the rails.
• Wildcat Canyon’s soil is mostly clay; it is unrideable for about a week after significant rain.
• The long route can be shortened by descending Claremont Ave instead of Tunnel Rd. Claremont Ave is a shorter and faster descent, but it is also more technical and has rough pavement. Tunnel Rd also has rough pavement, but is a longer, more gradual descent. Use caution when descending either road.

Introduction

A project partnership between the Bay Trail and East Bay Regional Park District has now closed an important gap in the Bay Trail with a pathway around Golden Gate Fields. You can now ride all the way from Emeryville to Richmond along the beautiful bayfront, mostly on dedicated pathways with little cross-traffic.

Go explore the Albany Bulb, take a docent-led bike tour of the Richmond Shipyards at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, or have some riding fun on the Richmond Greenway at Dirt World Bike Park. The longer route is great for gravel bikes, coming back through Wildcat Canyon and visiting Lake Anza and the Steam Trains in Tilden Park.

What to bring

Comfortable riding shoes, helmet, water bottles (there are several places to fill up along the way), sun protection (hat, sunscreen), extra layers or rain gear (just in case). A smartphone is handy for maps and looking up information or taking photos. And, of course, your Clipper card. Make sure to download the Ride with GPS app so you can easily reference the route.

How to get there

Exit Ashby Station through the main entrance into the parking lot. Cross Martin Luther King Drive to Prince Street to join the route.

Short route

Some of the best views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate are found along the shoreline mudflats of Berkeley, Albany, and Richmond. Now an almost completely separate pathway will take you all the way from Aquatic Park to the Richmond ferry terminal. You’ll see hundreds of shorebirds while rolling by and through the great parks along the waterfront.

Things to see

Albany Bulb

Like many of the waterfront parks in the Bay, the Albany Bulb was originally a garbage dump. However, unlike the site of what is now Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, the Bulb was originally a site for debris from the Golden Gate Fields construction project, rather than general landfill; it later was augmented with construction debris from the Santa Fe railroad system. Concrete and rebar structures have been adopted as canvases by local artists, making the entire space into a lively exercise in ephemeral art. It’s a wonderful place to explore, and it’s also one of the best places to just sit and watch the Bay.

Art by the Bay. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park

Richmond was the home of a huge amount of WWII-era industrial production and shipyards, and the legend of Rosie the Riveter was born here along the waterfront. There is some dispute about which historical individual was used for the famous portrait, a controversy you can learn more about at the free Rosie the Riveter Museum. In normal times, on Saturdays docent Christine leads bike tours of the waterfront, or if you’re lucky you may get to hear a talk from the legendary Betty Reid Soskin, who worked as a riveter during the war.

Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Dirt World Bike Park

The Richmond Greenway has a ton of cool stuff, but for bikes the best has to be Dirt World Bike Park, a community-led pump track and skills park which is fun whether you’re on BMX, a kid’s scoot bike, or your mountain bike or road bike. With four tracks at all levels, it’s a great place for everyone to play in the dirt.

Dirt World Bike Park. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Long route

Now that you’re comfortable riding on dirt, you can roll out to Wildcat Canyon and ride back to Berkeley on the fire roads of Wildcat Canyon and Tilden Park.

Things to see

Wildcat Canyon

The north end of the Hayward Fault has created a pleasant valley between the coastal flatlands and the inland valleys. After climbing up over the ridge you can ride through the oak woodlands and grasslands along Wildcat Creek in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Picnic at the beautiful Alvarado Park at the north end, explore the remnants of the Belgum Sanitarium, or just enjoy rolling south on the mostly easy dirt road. Look for coyotes if you’re there in the afternoon.

Wildcat Canyon. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Lake Anza

Riding through Wildcat Canyon will bring you to Tilden Park. You’ll be about 25 miles into the ride by the time you hit beautiful Lake Anza; a perfect time to dip your feet in the water, go for a swim, or grab a snack at the beach cafe (open seasonally). $4 will get you a ride on the historic merry-go-round.

Lake Anza. Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.

Redwood Valley Railway (The Steam Trains)

Near the highest point in the Berkeley Hills (Vollmer Peak, 1,905’), the Redwood Valley Railway operates rideable scale-model steam trains on weekends; tickets are $3. If the trains aren’t running, you can take the bike/ped path up to the peak to catch views to the Bay and Mount Diablo.

The Redwood Valley Railway (Steam Trains). Photo courtesy of Tom Holub.
 

Visit bart.gov/bikes to check BART’s bike rules, then strap on your helmet and get out there!

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