Walking is part of Berkeley’s eco-friendly DNA. Since the beginning, the East Bay San Francisco city has been threaded through with staircases and paths. They were originally for commuting—early residents walked along them to catch trolleys to Oakland. Now, they offer a quiet portal into Berkeley’s neighborhoods, providing glimpses into idyllic gardens. Constructed out of an assortment of brick, boulder, and concrete, and with bits of moss and wildflowers springing from every crack, the paths don’t lack for personality.
The popular and easy-to-find Indian Rock Path starts at the corner of Solano Avenue and the Alameda, and climbs before running smack into its namesake. Climbers can hone their skills at Indian Rock, but almost anyone can ascend the footholds in the massive stone to find a wide-open view of the bay that makes you want to stay forever. Like what you see? Consider learning the basics at Berkeley Ironworks, a local climbing gym and school.
Tilden Park, a wilderness sanctuary located between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge, offers more than 2,000 acres and miles of trails that wind through eucalyptus groves and verdant meadows. Check out a map of the sprawling park to get an idea of all it has to offer, including Lake Anza and the Tilden Park Botanic Gardens.
You’ll find another pretty escape while following the paths at the U.C. Botanical Garden. The 34-acre facility features more than 13,000 plant varieties—especially California natives—all thriving in naturalistic plantings in the Berkeley Hills above town. Be sure to stop by the Julia Morgan Hall, a charmingly rustic structure designed by the renowned architect as a home for the school’s women students back in 1910.