Though I lived in Berkeley for a few years, I moved away without having experienced a lot of the unique pleasures of the East Bay. For one thing, I never went to “Thai Temple” for Sunday brunch while I was there. I never explored the lush greenery in the parks and rec areas surrounding the city. I’ve still never been to the Berkeley Rose Garden.
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult addressing these shortcomings, as I live a hop, step, and skip away across the Bay Bridge. Earlier this month, Jay and I decided to walk the Fire Trails, a seven-mile hike around Strawberry Canyon, in the hopes of burning some calories before a big dinner. We drove a ways into the Berkeley hills, parked in a cramped lot, and put on a good pair of sneakers before setting off. We also enthusiastically donned workout gear, which wasn’t necessary — the path is cleared out and very accessible, with a very moderate climb most of the way. It was an excellent hike with wonderful pay-off in the form of panoramic views.
Since these are fire trails, used to clear out brush from the wilderness, there are no recreational brochures or readily available guides. Not to worry, as we were constantly coming across other joggers, dog-walkers, and hikers. We simply followed the path as far as it would take us, and turned back when the sun sank a bit too low in the sky. We were surprised to find that, at the end of our journey, we’d stumbled upon the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, overlooking the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. We took a breather among the buildings, taking in the view, before heading back down from where we came. All in all, it was about 3 hours of leisurely walking — a lovely way to spend an afternoon.