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Summertime Fun in the East Bay Regional Parks

Have fun and stay safe on the Fourth of July and all summer long

The Fourth of July holiday is typically one of the busiest days of the year for East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD). Some of the more popular parks and swim areas are expected to reach capacity early in the day. Visitors are encouraged to carpool and arrive early. Parking lots may become full, though there are many Regional Park options to consider.

Alameda Post - a photo of flowers, an old wheel from farming equipment, and a building at East Bay Regional Parks' Ardenwood Farm
Ardenwood Historic Farm. Photo EBRPD.

From picnics and barbecues to an old fashioned Fourth at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, there’s plenty to see and all summer long at EBRPD’s 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and more than 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education.

When visiting a Regional Park on the Fourth of July, please remember and follow these important tips and rules:

  • No Fireworks! Fireworks are not allowed in Regional Parks.
  • Stay cool and hydrated. The Fourth of July weekend is forecast to be very hot this year, so plan ahead and bring plenty of water.
  • Beat the heat. Visit in the morning and early evening when it is cooler. If you do venture out during the day, wear a hat and loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Drink responsibly. Hard alcohol is never allowed at any East Bay Regional Park. No alcohol of any kind is allowed at Crown Beach in Alameda. Some Regional Parks in other areas do allow beer and wine, with a $25 permit. Check the EBRPD Beer and Wine Permit web page before you go.
  • Follow water safety rules. Free loaner life jackets are available at all East Bay Regional Park District swim facilities as an extra safeguard for anyone concerned about their swimming abilities or their children.
  • Be fire smart. Be aware of Red Flag warnings, fire danger levels, and fire safety rules. Be sure to check the EBRPD Fire Danger & Restrictions web page before you go.
Alameda Post - people swimming and relaxing on a beach at Cull Canyon
Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area. Photo EBRPD.

Swim season is in full swing

Most East Bay Regional Park swim facilities and shoreline beaches are open daily. Swimming fees vary by facility.

Open facilities include Del Valle, Lake Temescal, Lake Anza, Shadow Cliffs, Quarry Lakes, Don Castro Lagoon, Cull Canyon Lagoon, and Castle Rock Pool. Contra Loma Lagoon is closed due to required safety repairs and maintenance. Roberts Pool, which is closed due to new pool facility construction, is expected to reopen sometime this summer.

Open status may change due to water quality conditions. Be sure to check the facility’s status and hours before you go at the EBRPD Swimming web page.

Here are some water safety tips that can help you stay safe in, on, and around the water.

  • Swim in areas with a lifeguard on duty. Keep a close eye on your children. Drowning can occur quickly and silently, even in a foot of water. Children 12 years old and under are not permitted in the swimming area unless accompanied by a responsible, actively supervising individual 16 years old or older.
  • Do not drink alcohol if you plan on swimming or boating.
  • Obey all rules and posted signs.
  • Wear a life jacket if you are unsure of your swimming abilities. Regional Park swim facilities have free loaner life jackets available. Boaters should always wear a life jacket.

Celebrate history on the Fourth

Treat your family to an old fashioned celebration at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, with music, games, and activities on July 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring a picnic or grab a bite at the Farmyard Café. Entrance fee is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 62+), and $5 for children (age 4 to 17). Children under 4 are free.

Take a hike in the fog

Summertime fog? While the communities in the eastern part of the Park District typically sizzle in the summer months, low, rolling fog blankets areas close to the bay—a curious phenomenon caused by warm air off the coast meeting the cold surface of the ocean.

On summer afternoons, the fog funnels through the Golden Gate, hitting the Berkeley/Oakland hills and spreading laterally. It is no coincidence that Redwoods, which rely on fog to survive the hot summer months, are found in the Berkeley/Oakland hills.

Consider attending the free Twilight Fog Hike at Tilden Regional Park on July 18 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit the EBRPD Twilight Fog Hike web page.

Alameda Post - Big Break Regional Shoreline dock and overlook area
Big Break Regional Shoreline. Photo EBRPD.

Play like an otter

The Big Break Regional Park Otter Festival highlights one of the Delta’s most charismatic mammals. Play like otters in hands-on stream tables, get creative with thematic crafts, and test your otter athletic skills. Here’s the otter fun calendar:

  • Otter Play Days: July 20 and July 21, 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Otter Storytime: July 22, 10:30 to 11 a.m.
  • Otter Crafts: July 22, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Otter Olympics: July 23, 11 a.m. to noon.

Bat Watch

Stop by Sunol Visitor Center for Bat Watch Wednesdays and learn all about the nocturnal flying mammals. The Bay Area is home to 16 different varieties of bats, with a bevy of adaptations that allow them to thrive in the dark. Excellent hearing and ability to echolocate—use a kind of biological sonar—help them find and eat up to 50 percent of their weight in insects per night.

Bats are vital pollinators, seed dispersers, and cash crop protectors. If you like mangoes, bananas, and cashews, you can thank a bat for pollinating or protecting the plants by eating insect pests.

Discover the wonderful world of our local bats every other Wednesday in July and August at Sunol Visitor Center. You can even become a citizen scientist and help count them.

Alameda Post - a smores sandwich

Campfires and s’mores (of course)

Campfire programs at Dumbarton Quarry Campground on the Bay in Fremont welcome visitors to the Park District’s newest campground. These fun evening campfire programs are filled with songs, games, photos, stories, activities, learning—and s’mores, of course.

Additional campfire programs are scheduled in July at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, Crown Beach in Alameda, Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore, and Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley. For more information and dates, visit the EBRPD Calendar campfire listings.

Habitat restoration at Briones

Habitat restoration is underway as part of the East Bay Regional Park District’s Briones Pilot Project in the northeast corner of Briones Regional Park. The Briones Pilot Project is a temporary two-year project to test trail-use strategies to enhance the visitor experience, reduce conflicts, improve trail safety, and protect natural habitat and wildlife. Restoring illegally built “bootleg” trails is a critical component of the project.

Key pilot project strategies include:

  • Odd/Even alternating trail access on weekend days for bike and equestrian use. On odd-numbered weekend days, bikers and hikers are allowed on designated trails with no horses allowed. On even-numbered weekend days, horses and hikers are allowed on designated trails, with no bikes allowed. Hikers are permitted on all days on most trails in the pilot zone.
  • Three new pilot project trails designated as bike-only and downhill-only. Temporary access for bikes is permitted on three trail sections, with access limited to bikes only due to terrain and for visitor safety. Bikers are required to stay off illegally built “bootleg” trails as they are in the process of being restored.
  • Restoration of illegally built “bootleg” trails. Bootleg trails often damage natural habitat for wildlife, including endangered and sensitive species
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