TOP SECRET! Hidden Nature Gems of the East Bay

Want to explore some lesser-known nature areas this summer in the East Bay? Here are some hidden gems! Tell your children these are TOP SECRET! 

(FYI parents- it is always easier to lure kids outdoors on an adventure if it is TOP SECRET!!!)

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Secret Tree Swing at Shepherd Canyon Park.  This park near Montclair is mainly athletic fields, but if you wander up the trail into the wooded area behind the fields there is a lovely area with a huge tree swing!

The Hidden Waterfall at Codornices Park in Berkeley.  This park is heavily (overly) utilized and is beloved by all for its idyllic setting in a canyon-like area surrounded by beautiful old trees.  BUT the trails behind the playground are often deserted, and are FULL of magnificent climbing trees for young and old.  (You might find me sitting in a tree reading a book if you decide to explore there…)

The Little Post Office at Tilden Park. Tilden is also beloved by all (and overly utilized), but did you know there is a SECRET Post Office hidden in a tree there?  Here’s our map and directions, if you want to try to find it with your children. The hand drawn map starts at the Meadows picnic site parking lot and is about a 2 mile round trip hike.  Feel free to print it and use with your children to try to find the Post Office. Make sure to bring something to leave there for others to find!


Leona Heights Park in Oakland is a great trail to hike if you want to experience a magical canyon that is surely home to many fairies and gnomes. :) The creek is so fun for kids to explore...get them throwing rocks in the creek and you'll be there for hours.

Trail into the canyon at Leona Heights Park.  You'll feel like you entered a different universe .

Trail into the canyon at Leona Heights Park.  You'll feel like you entered a different universe .

And finally, Pinole Valley Park. This park is underutilized compared to other East Bay nature areas and has a variety of trails and a creek to explore.  We’re having our Con•T•GO Kids Camp there this summer and couldn’t be more excited!

Do YOU know of any hidden nature gems in the East Bay? We’d love to hear about them! We promise we won't tell a soul. Comment below!