Spend a day connecting with nature and viewing beautiful wild birds at the wildlife sanctuary at Lake Merritt, the oldest wildlife refuge in North America.
The refuge is one of the least expensive excursions (it's free) in the Bay Area for families, locals, national and international travelers to take part in. Upon your arrival via the 19th Street/Oakland BART Station in downtown Oakland, walk north on Broadway and turn right onto 21st Street. When you reach the lake, turn left on Harrison Street and follow the walking path around the lake, past Children's Fairyland until you reach the sanctuary (it's about a 20-minute walk).
Take a stroll around the circumference of the lake (the footpath is 3.4 miles, and the sidewalk is 2.7 miles), and pause at one of five viewing stations. Colorful mallards, black-crowned night herons, American white pelicans (my favorite), and cormorants are just a few of the birds you will encounter on your visit.
Yes, you can feed the birds for $1 (please return the used bag afterwards for reuse). Obtain bird seed inside the Rotary Nature Center office.
If you are intrigued to learn more about birding, the Rotary Nature Center offers a bird walk with the Golden Gate Audubon Society the fourth Wednesday of every month (9:30am). Meet at the geodesic dome cage.
You never know what breathtaking birds you will see at the refuge as every day there are different sightings depending on the time of year and time of day. Thus, a visit to this Oakland jewel by BART is a reminder that the beauty of wildlife is all around you.
For more information on Lake Merritt and walking tours, visit the calendar of events.
- Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary and part of the Pacific Flyway for countless numbers of migratory birds.
- On March 18, 1870, Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge became protected under the California Wildlife Act.
- In 1963, Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge was registered as a National Historical Landmark.