Description - Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is an ecological jewel. The native plant community here is found nowhere else in the East Bay. It represents a relic plant association found only in certain areas along California's coast where ideal soil and climatic conditions exist. You are within the boundaries of an island in time... what's left of a time gone by.
Copyright: East Bay Regional Park District
Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve
The vegetation association of Huckleberry Preserve finds its roots in past climates and geologic history. The plants originated in the distant past along the southern coast of California when the climate was more moist and tempered by the cool coastal fog. Today, similar vegetation is found on the islands off the Santa Barbara coast and in isolated pockets on the mainland coast from Point Conception to Montara Mountain, south of San Francisco.
The rock strata exposed in the Preserve were laid down in a deep ocean basin and contain the remains of microscopic diatoms and radiolaria. Through time these beds have been subjected to uplift and folding and stand exposed as hard, brittle bands of interbedded chert and shale. The resulting soil is very low in nutritional value and favors pioneering chaparral species that tolerate harshness and colonize the most sterile, rocky knolls. It is on these "barrens" that the rare and endangered Alameda manzanita survives. The soils are well drained at the surface, but the fractured and bedded rocks below hold water for deep roots. Although the barrens seem superficially dry at the surface, these sites are actually relatively moist. Being directly across from the Golden Gate, the barrens receive ample summer fog; northerly exposure is isolated from the sun; and on the crest of the Berkeley Hills, the rainfall is sufficient.
In the absence of fire, leaf litter has been deposited in great quantities and the soil has become rich and deep. Live oaks and bay laurels have gradually moved into the chaparral areas to shade out the chamise and manzanitas. This "plant succession" is a natural part of the evolution of California's landscape.
- Huckleberry Preserve has a year-round display of blossoming plants, many rare to the East Bay. As you stroll through the 235-acre preserve, stop periodically and reflect on your sense of place, for here you can experience an ancient slice of time.
Huckleberry Path, a 1.69-mile loop, traverses a wide variety of terrain and is maintained to minimum requirements. From the parking lot, follow the path to the left fork, descend steeply and contour through a mature bay forest for about one mile. A steep ascent to the botanically rich upper trail will begin your 0.7-mile return to the parking lot. Allow two hours and carry water. If you require a less strenuous trail, begin on the right fork and return before its descent into the bay forest.
A self-guided nature path brochure naming plants that may be seen from the Huckleberry Path is available at the Huckleberry Botanic Preserve entrance. You may also get one at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park, or at the Regional Parks Public Affairs office at 2950 Peralta Oaks Court in Oakland.
Because of the fragile nature of Huckleberry Preserve and the Huckleberry Trail, dogs, bicycles and horses are prohibited. (Dogs and horses are allowed on the Skyline National Trail.) Jogging is discouraged.
The site is open 5 AM to 10 PM unless otherwise posted. No parking fee.
Recreation - Visitors enjoy Huckleberry Botanic for the spectacular plant life. Hiking is available.Because of the fragile nature of Huckleberry Preserve and the Huckleberry Trail, DOGS, BICYCLES and HORSES are PROHIBITED. (Dogs and horses are allowed on the Skyline National Trail.) Jogging is discouraged.
Climate - Climate in the San Francisco Bay area varies greatly with elevation and the amount of coastal influence. Areas with more coastal influence experience moderate temperatures year round with fog likely from June through mid-August. Plan your coastal visit in the late summer or fall to ensure the best conditions for viewing the scenery. Also, occasional clear days between winter and spring storms are incomparable. Areas further inland experience greater temperature extremes, with relatively cooler winters and hot summers. Inland areas often receive frost on winter nights. As throughout most of California most of the precipitation comes in the winter months, with April through October normally very dry.
Huckleberry Botanic site is located on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland between Broadway Terrace and Snake Road, directly across from the Golden Gate.
To reach the park from Highway 24 take the Fish Ranch Road just east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Continue 0.8 mile to Grizzly Peak Blvd. Turn left and go 0.24 mile on Grizzly Peak to Skyline Boulevard. Turn left and drive approximately half a mile to the park entrance, on the left, past Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.
To reach the site from public transit on 19th St. BART take AC Transit bus 59A; from Lake Merritt BART take AC Transit bus 59 or 59A. These bus lines go to the Montclair Transit Center. From there, transfer to AC Transit bus 5 and exit at the stop on Colton Boulevard and Ridgewood Drive. Walk the short distance from Colton to Skyline Boulevard, turn left and proceed to the park. It is a mostly level half mile walk.