When it Rains, Take a Path Walk
Sandy’s Rain Walk
Start at Star Grocery (3068 Claremont Avenue). Head south three blocks to cross Claremont at the crosswalk with the flashing beacon to reach aptly named Brookside Avenue. At #78, you’ll meet Claremont Creek and see the first of many bridges along this route. Cross to the north side of the street, and look for the creek behind the fences and shrubs, and notice how the last garage is built right over it.
Return to Claremont, go one block north, and turn right onto Hillcrest Road. Just before a red mailbox with Snoopy snoozing on top, climb The Steps, turning left at the top. Bear right at the curve, crossing Hillcrest Court to stay on Hillcrest Road. After #151, take The Crossways down to The Uplands.
Cross the street to access the unnamed trail down the center of the long, narrow park. Turn right, walk to the end of the trail, and go down the short path to reach Parkside Drive. Turn right and follow Parkside to the end. Go left onto the east side of Plaza Drive.
After #99, take The Cutoff up to El Camino Real. Cross the street, and turn left. After #51, climb Park Path to Oak Ridge Road. Turn left, continue down the road, and bear left at the curve to descend Oakridge Path East, stopping to admire the urban farm on your left with chickens and geese and the whimsical sculptures and mosaics on both sides of the path.
The path comes out onto Domingo Avenue. Cross the street and turn left. Just after #36, turn right onto Oakridge Path West, which leads to John Muir School Elementary School and the creek. Students have adopted this portion of it, which sometimes serves as an outdoor classroom for science experiments, art projects, and more.
Follow the paved path to exit the schoolyard, and turn left onto Claremont. Take the first left onto Hazel Road, and look for the creek at #56. Continue up Hazel to the end, turn right onto Domingo, and take the first right onto Oakvale Avenue, where the creek emerges from an arch beneath the living room of #41. Architect John Hudson Thomas incorporated this picturesque water setting into the house’s design in 1911, more than two decades before Frank Lloyd Wright designed his famed Fallingwater.
Don’t miss the hand-painted creek sign at #35 Oakvale or the stone “grotto” between #25 and #19. Along with the pair of palm trees behind #25, it is the last vestiges of the long-gone Russ Estate, which once occupied much of the curved portion of Oakvale.
Cross the street to find the creek again at #18, pausing to see a small waterfall and koi pond. Turn left onto Encina Walk, the shortest official Berkeley path, noticing how the creek runs under the log garage. Bear right onto Encina Place, where a series of rustic bridges crisscross this long run of the creek.
Turn right onto The Uplands. The thoughtful owners of the corner house have cut three windows in their fence, including a low one for children, so passersby can see the creek.
Turn left onto Claremont, where the creek runs in front of the first two houses on the east side of the street, between The Uplands and Claremont. Cross Claremont to return Star Grocery.
[Editors note:A version of this article, by Sandy Friedland, appeared in the December 2018 edition of Claremont Livingmagazine.]