What a gem. Tucked away in the hills of Berkeley, this park that houses a farm, a nature area, an environmental education center, and acres of gorgeous wilderness will encompass you. It will be difficult, at best, to remember that a bustling metropolis is but a few miles away.
I have heard about Tilden Park many times over the past two years. "You've been, haven't you?!" is a common refrain. I would shamefacedly admit that I hadn't, but offer up "It's on our list!". I am glad to announce that the list has become shorter by yet one more item.
Dad and I thought this local park trip would be ideal for today. We went to Nicholas's swim lesson, picked up lunch, and headed to Berkeley. Once we turned off the main road in Orinda, we started climbing higher and higher by way of a rather windy road. Nicholas was completely unfazed by this, perhaps as he was completely and inexplicably upset by the fact that we could not yet pick up Kelsey from school. Nothing comforted him until we saw a rather large water-go (a lake, in this case). This fascinated him right out of his misery, and was back to his bouncy, happy self by the time we reached the park area. By the "park" area, I actually mean the picnic and playground area that is located near the entrance to the Nature Area and Little Farm.
It actually took quite a bit of driving to get there. I was sure everything was closer than it appeared on the map, and the reality was quite different. We drove around so many curves in the road, that I was convinced we had missed a sign somewhere. Just as we were going to turn around, we finally happened on park area, and breathed a sigh of relief. We parked near picnic benches, and began decided lunch was first on the agenda.
The picnic was extremely fast. Barely a moment to set down our sandwich rolls, and pop open the tab on my seltzer. Nicholas tore into his sandwich, gulped down his falafel, and practically galloped to the playground. There was a large sand pit, and Nicholas was not disappointed as we had indeed remembered the sand toys, to include the orange bulldozer. He played happily, shared his toys, and packed up willingly when we mentioned the farm.
The Little Farm is part of the Nature Area (no, we didn't have a hope of fully exploring) and is set into a hillside surrounded by a bit of a forest. Nicholas enjoyed greeting each set of animals (roosters, pigs, goats, cows and sheep), and fed them with dropped scraps of lettuce and celery from previous visitors. The heat of the sun pounding down on the farm was relieved by a short hike around the edge of the sheep pens in the shade of the cooling trees. Comparatively speaking, it was a short visit, but we left feeling content that our time was well-spent.
I know it is not likely, but if we have the time, we would return in a heartbeat. There are children's activities galore, a newly renovated hiking path that is not to be missed, and the sense that one is days, not miles from the hustle and bustle of city life. The parks in Northern California never cease to amaze us.