Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it.

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Who knew that ten million years ago, a volcano loomed in the Oakland Hills? You can see the remnants today at Sibley Volcanic Regional Reserve, off Skyline Boulevard, just east of Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

A completely different aspect of the diverse community we call Oakland, the preserve offers several quiet trails through forests of pine and oak and great stands of eucalyptus. As you follow the up-and-down trails through the woods, away from the unmanned visitor center, you will abruptly transition to open grassland hills where broad vistas abound. Saint Mary’s College and its Mission Renaissance-styled chapel can be seen in the town of Moraga to the southeast, while the broad shoulders of Mount Diablo stand tall, further east.

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At times, the trail is particularly rocky, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear (and, yes, there are rattlesnakes — rattlesnakes in Oakland, you say?). As you explore the various trails in the preserve, the volcanic geology will unfold before you. Be sure to pick up a map at the visitor’s center, so you can learn about the different rock formations you see as you hike.

Within the preserve, you may find one of the park’s labyrinths. These maze-like paths are outlined in stone. Nobody seems to know how long they’ve existed or why. If you follow the labyrinth to its center, you may find offerings left behind by others. When I was recently there, I saw a line of prayer flags in the bushes, to one side of the labyrinth. They were blowing in the breeze like a spirit’s laundry, hung to dry in the sun.

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Deer, birds (I saw Oregon Juncos, Ravens, Swainson’s Thrushes, and Spotted Towhees), lizards, snakes, and other wildlife make their home in the preserve.

It’s hard to believe that such a rich geological and rural area, with such diverse flora and fauna, is contained within the boundaries of the city of Oakland. We’re fortunate that the East Bay Regional Park District takes such good care of this beautiful wilderness area. Learn more about this remarkable park at http://www.ebparks.org/parks/sibley.htm.

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Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

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