Trekker News - April 2022


Fairview Open Space is bordered by homes along Arlington Boulevard, by Fairview and Tamalpais avenues, and by the Hillside Natural Area’s Motorcycle Hill section.

Will luxury homes replace trees and damage creeks at Fairview Open Space? Last month we reported that the national home-building firm Toll Brothers is considering building luxury homes on this 15-acre parcel which is adjacent to and north of the Hillside Natural Area.

Engineers are surveying the site to see if it will cost Toll Brothers more to build the homes than they can sell them for. It might, because massive grading would be needed and engineering done to handle homes and streets on steep, slide prone hills.

As Trekkers points out, city and state and regional creek and habitat protection laws could also rule out development on much of the site. Does El Cerrito, now an official “Tree City,” really want to see dozens of mature live oaks ripped out?

Toll Brothers has not yet determined if it will proceed with a development. “We are working through various land planning scenarios, but likely won’t have anything for a few weeks to share,” the firm’s project lead, Nick Kosla, has told us.

Trekkers isn’t waiting; we want to show that people in town want to preserve the last sizable piece of unbuilt open space in our hillsides. Let’s build housing as infill in parts of our city that are already urbanized. 

We plan to discuss this matter during public comment at the April 19 City Council meeting. We are also seeking support from the public. We thank the Sierra Club for its support to preserve Fairview Open Space.

Interested? Contact

Alan Siegel provided an in-depth, lively and fascinating look at edible and medicinal plants of the Hillside during an April Trekker hike. He will do so again during the Hillside Festival. Photo by Dave Weinstein

The 2022 Hillside Festival is only a month away. Whether you hike through the city’s 100-acre Hillside Natural Area a lot, or rarely, the May 14 and 15 free festival will prove eye opening. We are proud both of the range of hikes and other events on offer and of the quality of our event leaders.

Each one is both an expert in his or her field and an entertaining teacher. Most have led events for Trekkers before, some many times. And we are proud that our programs, in the main, are aimed at young people, while providing enough depth for elders as well.

Geology interest you? We have both a short hike and one much longer. Our insect hike is a perennial pleaser. Care to relax? Take part in an “easy nature walk.” Or join Nicole Becker for Meditation in Nature.

The El Cerrito Historical Society will present the history of our once wicked city while looking down upon it from high in the hills. The city’s arborist will lead a tree hike as evening falls. And early the next morning an expert birder will help identify birds and explain how and why they use El Cerrito’s wild open space.

All events are free. Download or pick up a map-and-schedule from our website or at various libraries, community centers and shops throughout this area.

There is still time to enter the Hillside Festival Haiku Contest. Focus your poems on your experiences in the Hillside Natural Area. 

Classical Japanese Haiku includes: the season; the place, the transitory nature of life, the suffering, the surprise moment.  17 syllables in 5-7-5 format is not strictly followed. 

El Cerrito residency not required. Age categories: 18 and over; 13-17; 12 and under.
First prize in each age category: $50. Second and third prize in each age category: $30.
Judges are Evelyn Mitchell, Maw Shein Win and Melissa Hobbs

Winners receive gift certificates to El Cerrito Natural Grocery and/or Jenny K Gifts. Include your name, email, phone number, and age if 12 or under, or 13- 17. Children 12 and under, please ask your parent or guardian about entering the contest beforehand. Submit up to three poems to email: Deadline is April 15.

Winners announced April 25, 2022. Winners featured on the website and in the El Cerrito Trekker Newsletter. Awards will be given out and poets read their haiku on the haiku hike noon on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

Attend our broom pulling event on April 23. Recent rains have been light, but sufficient to soften up the ground and make it easier to remove this noxious weed from the Hillside.

Learn more by watching this film with Howdy Goudey, which was shown at the 2021 Hillside Festival.

Trekkers is partnering with the city Environmental Quality Committee’s Green Teams on a series of broom pulls, all on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. We provide tools, tarps, gloves. Bring water and wear a hat. The next dates are: April 23 (an Earth Day activity), and – tentatively, if the ground remains soft, May 21. Meet at the north end of Regency Court.

Members of Trekkers alerted Trekkers and the city’s maintenance division that a tree had falled across Motorcycle Hill Trail, making passage difficult. The city sent out a crew member to make quick work of the obstruction. Photo by Jenny Hammer

Take part in the next Baxter Creek Work Party on Sunday, May 1 10 a.m. to noon. Please join city staff and other volunteers at Baxter Creek Gateway Park in this jewel on the Ohlone Greenway. The activities will include litter removal, invasive plant removal and native plant care. 

All ages are welcome (under 18 with guardian). Please wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Bring water. The city will provide tools, bags, gloves, and sanitizer. There are no bathrooms at the park. We will meet at 10 a.m. at Conlon Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway. RSVP by email or phone: or 510-215-4350
Baxter Creek Gateway Park Volunteer Days take place on the first Sunday of each month, except during major holiday weekends, in which case we will meet the following Sunday. 

Subsequent dates for 2022 are: June 5, July 10 (2nd Sunday due to Fourth of July holiday), August 7, September 11 (2nd Sunday due to Labor Day holiday), October 2, November 6, December 4

Do you hike in Richmond? A writer wants to hear from you. “Live in and hike on a trail in Richmond? I'm Tony Edwards, a writer from Richmond. I'm writing a series of articles on how our local Richmond trails were used by the community as a place to get outside and safely explore during the worst of the pandemic. If you walk/hike/ride/run on a Richmond trail (Wildcat, Alvarado, Point Pinole, Miller Knox, and non-East Bay Regional Park District trails) and you live in Richmond, I'd love to share your story. Email me at to learn more. Thanks to Trail Trekkers for their help publicizing!”

El Cerrito Trail Trekkers is a sponsor of the city’s July 4 Festival this year. The city still seeks sponsors. Join us!

Buy our El Cerrito Trail Map. The second edition of this map is available at three stores, Jenny K , Builders Booksource on Fourth Street in Berkeley, and Pegasus books on Solano Avenue.

Or you can buy a map from us or get one “free” by joining Trail Trekkers. Send $6 for a map to our treasurer, Pam Austin, 834 Kearny St., EC, 94530

Have you renewed your membership? It only costs $20 annually to belong to Trekkers, and $500 buys a life membership. Please renew now or join by going to our website and downloading the membership form.

And consider an additional donation as well. Funds go for trail work, to install trail signs, for a fund to purchase additional open space, as well as incidental expenses. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

Trekkers thanks new and renewing members and donors:

Contra Costa Hills Club
Coby Lubliner
Clare Sheridan
Lois Switzer
Neal Tsutsui

Let’s attach the map-schedule as an attachment when we send.

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