“To the harried urban resident, the pathways offer leafy garden corridors of quiet, removed from the world of noise beyond … day after day, as informal extensions of Berkeley’s parks, the pathways give us more ways to enjoy nature.” Paul Grunland
These words, written by one of our original BPWA board members, have appeared on all seven editions of our map and are truer than ever. We hope they’ll inspire you to take a path walk.
Our website has many routes that you can follow. Or, with our map in hand, plan your own adventure, including some of the paths that our current and former board members rank as their favorites.
Lower Covert Path is the clear winner.
“To descend this beautiful path,” writes BPWA President Colleen Neff, “is to drop into another world. A steep run of wood-tie steps leads to a seasonal creek, which you must hop over. (You can hang onto a redwood sapling at one tricky point.) More steps lead to a pine-needle covered trail that parallels the creek. Finally, switchback steps head down the steep slope that ends at Keith Ave. If you turn left, you’ll see a lovely woodland waterfall.”
Our youngest board member, Jacob Lehmann Duke, 15, highlights more attributes of Lower Covert Path. “I like the way it feels so removed from the streets nearby and how the small creek crosses the path at about the halfway point. I also enjoy the exercise of climbing its 330 stairs and how this path is a shortcut to the top of the hill.”
Others chose a favorite path based on childhood memories, its location, or the qualities of a path itself. Some picked the path they always take to reach a destination. But it’s clear that Berkeley’s paths are not just a means to an end: They are the reward for taking a walk.
Here is a cross section of the responses:
I like to head to the top of the Berkeley Hills to get some exercise, and I start on Tamalpais Path. I love how the beginning is hidden on the north side of Codornices Park. The path is nice and steep, and when I look up at the endless steps — 184, if I remember correctly — I can't see the top. A great canopy of trees covers my ascent. On my left, is an expansive, undeveloped, creek-side landscape, right in the midst of a densely populated neighborhood. If you watch for the gate about a third of the way up, you can take a detour to see Benner Falls, truly a hidden gem! Emma Morris
A nice bench sits half way up Atlas Path, where the view of the Bay is amazing. John Kenny
I love Acacia Walk because it goes from urban to rural in a minute: concrete steps to pine-needle duff as I walk uphill. It’s also the closest path to my house and a good aerobic workout. I also love that half a block away is a return route: flower-lined Acacia Steps, with excellent views of the Bay as I walk downhill. Elsa Tranter
My favorite path is Indian Trail, with the huge, original urn at the bottom, rock outcroppings dotting the hillside, and a canopy of Live Oaks. The Trail snakes upward, between The Alameda and Yosemite Road, and leads to Great Stone Face Park. Heather Schooler
Yosemite Steps, near where I live, most often tops my favorite-path list. The upper half has the Poetry Wall. I usually stopto read a poem or two, and that little pause adds pleasure to my day. Glen Lindwall
I especially love the lower half of Orchard Lane, a landmarked path at the bottom of Panoramic Hill. With its concrete pillars, walls, and shapely balustrades, the path makes me feel like I’m in Italy. Just off to the left is picturesque Mosswood Lane. These two paths provide a great start to your climb through this magical neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Daphne White
My favorite path is the yet-to-be-officially named "Jacque's Way." This gravel path begins just west of the Marin Circle and ends at Contra Costa Ave. It lies between Los Angeles Ave. and the road that emerges from the tunnel onto Solano, which used to be where the old train tracks were. When I was young, all the neighborhood kids took this path on Saturdays to reach the 10¢ matinee at the Oaks Theater. The engineer on the red Southern Pacific train would always wave to us. Cal students recently added native plants at the west end. The path slopes mildly and is easy to walk on. Jacque Ensign
I took Terrace Walk every day when I was a child. It goes through a beautiful Berkeley neighborhood with wonderful, distinctive homes and gardens. I love this path because it evokes memories of growing up in North Berkeley. Betsy Mueller
I love Billie Jean Walk, which takes me from lower Hilldale to Euclid. It’s a well-constructed path, with concrete steps separated by straightaways and a handrail for safety. I enjoy passing lovely gardens and homes, and I rarely see other walkers. I've counted 112 steps, excluding the flat sections. This path is shaded and cool in warm weather, but it’s a treat in any season. I especially value Billy Jean Walk because it offers nice, quiet, and far easier alternative to walking on steep Marin Ave. Linda Schieber
Indian Rock Path is my favorite for very simple reasons. It is the closest path to my house and ends at Indian Rock Park. When friends and family visit, we take the path to the park after dinner and sit on the rock to watch the sun set.
My favorite path right now is Visalia Steps. I love it because I take my two granddaughters down those concrete, slightly skewed steps to their art class every week. There are so many nice neighbors to greet, beautiful flowers to see and smell, a creek to go over, and yard art to talk about. Plus, that path gets our three hearts a pumpin' on the way back. Kay Englund
Vine Lane, with its brick columns and Art Nouveau metal arch and lantern, is an absolutely charming and serene path with some historic homes along it. I especially like the first one on the right, a quaint Tudor with ornate metal work. I often think about how well used this path has been over the years. When I meet others there, I like to chat about what a lovely path we’re on, which makes my walk even more enjoyable. Lynn Deregowski
What’s your favorite path? Send us an email telling us why you love it. Include a photo if you have a good one.