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Wednesday 25 January 2017

Cragmont Rock Park, Berkeley

There's nothing I like more on a weekend that taking my girls out to explore our own backyard. Usually this means heading across the bay to explore an area of San Francisco that we've never been to or hopping in a Zipcar and travelling to the outer parts of the Bay Area. Sometimes though, it's just as nice to stay local and explore our immediate back yard right here in Berkeley.

A few weekends back we headed into the Berkeley Hills to visit Cragmont Rock Park, a small park that Lola, Mathilde and I had been to for a birthday party last year. Cragmont Rock Park is located on Regal Road just a short distance from Codornices and Indian Rock Parks, two of our favorite places in Berkeley. Like Indian Rock Park, Cragmont Rock Park features, you guessed it, large rocks! It's a great place for kids to scramble up and down rocks, climb trees, explore and play. Being located high in the hills, it also boasts fantastic views over Berkeley, San Francisco and the Bay.

As we are living car free, we caught the bus (AC Transit #67) to Cragmont Rock Park. The bus didn't take us direct to the park, but we didn't mind as getting there is half the adventure. From the bus stop a few streets down the hill we took "secret" pathways and staircases to Cragmont Rock Park. The Berkeley and Oakland Hills are filled with tiny staircases and pathways "hidden" between houses. While it can be a bit of a hike making our way up these steep staircases and pathways the girls love it. It feels so much more like an adventure than just walking along a regular sidewalk, and the girls are always so proud of themselves when they look back to see how far they've come. This includes Mathilde who always insists on walking the whole way - or pretending to be a turtle and going on her hands and feet!

Once we reached the park Kim and I checked out the view over the bay (Hi Golden Gate Bridge!) while the girls headed straight to a rocky outcrop to play house. They each selected a certain part of the rocks to be their house and spent their time giving Kim and I tours of each and every "room". Lola's house even included a tree branch which she declared was her bed. She very nicely let her neighbors Ava and Mathilde take turns sitting in it.

After many, many house tours the girls were keen to go explore around the park. They followed a small path down from the rocky outcrop to a field, and then around to the other side of the park where they decided to do a little more climbing - both on the rocks and up trees.

A little further around the girls were excited to see people rock climbing. You can see their ropes in the next shot.

As we walked around the park Mathilde collected a few "little" rocks that she wanted to take home to add to her collection. Usually I just put the rocks that she collects in my bag and she forgets about them later. These rocks, plus a third that she collected, were a little heavy so they were sneakily left behind. Of course, she has asked about them multiple times since!

We followed the path around the park a little more and came across a way for the girls to scramble up to the top. Following the path the rest of the way is just too easy, don't you know! Mathilde insisted on following her big sisters although she wasn't big enough to climb up on her own. But with a little help from Ava and I she got there - and then I had to follow to make sure she didn't wander of the edge!

By the entrance of Cragmont Rock Park there sits an old stone building. We didn't work out what this building had been built for, but the girls discovered an easy way to climb onto the roof. They made sure to stick close to the edge just in case the center wasn't stable.

While Ava and Lola played on the roof of the small building Mathilde played with a friendly dog that came running over to us. She threw the ball to the dog over and over. They both had such a fun time. One day when we have a house and backyard we'll have to get a dog for the girls.

The sun was starting to go down so we made our way back down the hill to catch the bus. The girls had just as much fun going down the hill as they had going up it, maybe even more as they could slide down the railing of the stairs!

As we made our way down the hill I spotted the sunset poking over a fence. Look at that - the Golden Gate Bridge is right there with the sun just behind it! From our apartment building the sun appears to set slightly further south toward the city.

I love finding new to us parks right here in Berkeley. There are still plenty more that we've yet to explore. I hope to visit more of our local parks soon to share with you.

Park Details
Cragmont Rock Park is located at 960 Regal Road, Berkeley. It can be accessed fairly easily by the number 65 and 67 buses from Downtown Berkeley followed by a short walk. This walk is not stroller or wheelchair friendly as it involves stairs. The park itself is stroller and wheel chair accessible.
The park features a nice grassy area, picnic area with tables and BBQ, basketball half court, rock climbing and a gazebo.  
More information can be found here.

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