Stairs to Esplanade Beach, Pacifica.

Step down to Esplanade Beach, Pacifica

Shoes on Esplanade Beach with Pacific in the back.

Esplanade Beach was our most recent discovery. We grabbed some lunch from Rosalind’s Bakery (recently featured on a post about my favorite sweet treats) and drove down to Esplanade Beach. Street parking was plentiful. The first impression from above was not too thrilling. We parked near a chain linked fence that was obstructing our ocean view and left us with an uneasy feeling about the safety of these cliffs. The entrance to the beach is on Esplanade Ave, which has multiple apartment complexes. There were a few benches on a lookout above. 

Stairs to the Esplanade Beach in Pacifica

The real treat is the stairs leading down to the beach. This is quite a workout! I did not count how many steps or switchbacks there were but they kept on going. I would recommend slowing down for the last part because the sand on the stairs makes them slippery. 

Looking up at the stairs cliff side with sparse plants and netting.

You can tell that the stairs have gotten an overhaul recently. The plants to minimize erosion haven’t filled out the netting yet.
This is Pacifia’s only official off leash dog beach. We saw a few dogs enjoying the run. Visit Pacifica warns to check out the tide schedule since the beach can be narrow at high tide.  For the same reason,  you should probably refrain from walking here during stormy weather.

Looking up the cliff at Esplanade Beach, Pacifica.

If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, September 18th is Coastal Cleanup Day. A great way to beautify these beaches and remove plastic pollution. If you’re really enjoying this you can help clean Esplanade Beach every 3rd Saturday of the month.

How do you step up for your local beaches?

If you relish an outdoor steps workout also consider Communication Hill in San Jose, or the Trailhead stairs in Saratoga.

Bench with spray painted Peace

Find Peace Hiking the Milagra Ridge, Pacifica

Entrance to a bunker with graffiti at Milagra Ridge, Pacifica.

Historically the Milagra Ridge was not known for peace, in fact several 6-inch guns were mounted here in 1948 as part of a project to protect San Francisco. In 1959, Milagra Ridge was known as Nike Missile Site SF-51. Surface-to-air missiles were stationed here and the entire area was fenced and patrolled by guards with dogs. You can still see the remaining bunkers, now spray painted with graffiti. 

View from the Miragra trail towards the Pacific.

These days Milagra Ridge gives shelter to threatened and endangered species, like the Mission blue and San Bruno elfin butterfly, and the California red-legged frog. This makes this park exceptionally vulnerable to human disturbance. Maybe this also explains the minimal parking, about six spaces off Sharp Park Rd. 

Nevertheless nowadays Milagra Ridge offers amazing views, weather permitting, of the Pacific. You can see the Pacifica pier from here. The hike itself was fairly easy. We did loop around for a 1.5 mile hike, and there were some steps involved. But if you are wheel-dependent there are also some paved roads. I was disappointed that the labyrinth was closed off due to butterfly protection efforts.

Labyrinth at Milagra Ridge, Pacifica.

Milagra Ridge is a 239 acres park of the National Park Service Open Space in Pacifica and part of the 119 square mile Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Where do you find peace?

Steps to an overlook at Milagra Ridge trail.

Another option to find a peaceful hike is the Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel.

If you are looking for more hikes with steps I wrote the post for a hike in Saratoga: 

Climb some Stairs in Saratoga

Climbing structure and concrete slides at Brigadoon Park.

Skid Down the Brigadoon Park Slide, San Jose

I arrived at Brigadoon Park greeted by an empty playground some late morning. My quest was the giant concrete slide I’d heard so much about. 

Many pieces of cardboard at the base of the slides at Brigadoon Park.

At the base I picked up one of the many cardboard boxes. If I ever wanted to slide, the opportunity of no witnesses was now or never. There are three options for sliding. One for the slimmer and tinier generation with higher walls for protection.

Two concrete slides are right next to each other.

I had to choose one of the two other wider slides. All of the slides have two bumps. This was a fun and scary experiment. The cardboard didn’t disappoint. This is a fast ride! I was relieved that by the time I crashed into the playground there was still no one around to take notice of my less than perfect landing. Very much fun for the younger crowd.

Brigadoon Park is located on Brigadoon Way and Maloney Drive in San Jose. Parking in the neighborhood was no problem. 

Concrete slide with cardboard at Brigadoon Park, San Jose.

Have you ever tried the slide at Brigadoon Park?

Other fun playgrounds in the Peninsula:

Seven Seas Park, Sunnyvale

Magic Mountain, San Mateo

Las Palmas Park, Sunnyvale

Magical Bridge, Palo Alto

Sign for the Stulsaft park in Redwood City.

Walk your Dog off leash at Stulsaft Park, Redwood City

A concrete slide for water play filled with sand.

Stulsaft Park in the hills of Redwood City is, with 42 acres, the city’s largest park. A moderate short hike with lots of shade and a little creek. We parked at Farm Hills Blvd near the playground. The play area has swings and slides and a really nice water area (from June – September). Due to drought conditions the splash zone might be adjusted, currently water flows 10:30am-12:00pm and 2:00-6:00pm daily.

Gate with a sign to the off-leash trail at Stulsaft park.

The park starts with some elevation but once you reach the off-leash dog area it is nice and mostly flat. Picnic tables are in the amphitheater near a creek. During summer months this area is used for summer camps and the off-leash dog area is reduced to the upper trails. Please follow rules on leashing up your dog when requested and, of course, always pick up after your four legged friend. There is a three dog maximum per person. 

A person walking a dog off leash at Stulsaft park, Redwood City.

Also, watch out for some art. The roadrunner near the top of a tree, for example, was an unsuspected sight. 

Roadrunner art in tree, Stulsaft park.

Overall I enjoyed the hike, seeing the dogs, and relaxing in the shade.

Stulsaft Park is located on 3737 Farm Hill Blvd in Redwood City.

What is your favorite off-leash dog park?

Another off-leash hike with your dog is Pulgas Ridge Preserve.

Steps from above at Communications Hills, San Jose.

Count the Steps at Communications Hill, San Jose

Steps from above at Communications Hill, San Jose.

Walking around the neighborhood has become a necessity. Sometimes it is great to get some variety in. I highly recommend the steps of Communications Hill in San Jose. Not only do you get a great view of the Diablo Mountain range but you can switch up your exercise with stepping up the hill. 

Diablo Mountain view from Communications Hill, San Jose.

The Communications Hill community also has an interesting history. The Tamyem People mined cert, crystals of quartz, the mineral form of silicon dioxide. In 1777 Juan Bautista de Anza established the first pueblo-town in California not associated with a mission or military post. The Oak Hill Memorial Park, located on the north side of the hill, is the oldest secular cemetery in California. Further use of the land includes mining cinnabar, a vineyard, and a dairy farm. Now it is an urban neighborhood and popular exercise spot. Parking is a challenge since there are neighborhood restrictions.

Communications Hill is located east of 87 at Hillsdale Ave and south easterly of Curtner Ave. Here is a trail map of the parks and facilities.

People exercising at Communications Hill.

Since I lost count I would appreciate your comments on how many steps it takes.

Have you climbed up Communications Hill?

If you need other neighborhood walk ideas check out my blog post about Neighborhood Walks.

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

Neighborhood Walks

COVID has most of us homebound and with a minimal radius to explore. I thought I’ll give you some ideas to spice up your daily neighborhood walks. While most of these specific walks are for Silicon Valley, the ideas should transfer to other areas. So, grab your mask and get your steps in with these walking ideas:

Garden

Sign reads: 
Green Garden of Mountain View
Conserves Water
Reduces Waste
Provides Habitat

We are blessed in the Bay Area with a long growing season. To get inspired for your own vegetable garden you should check out the local community gardens and wander around. There are plenty of Native Plant Gardens in the area. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a great list (https://www.cnps-scv.org/gardening/gardening-with-natives/69-public-gardens-of-native-plants-69).  In the same category, Mountain View’s Green Garden Showcase features front yards that are examples of California Native Plants, water wise gardens, and environmental friendly practices.(https://www.mountainview.gov/depts/pw/services/conserve/landscape/showcase.asp)

Art

Rodin's thinker (part of the Gates of Hell) at Stanford University.

With all museums closed right now I admit I’m a little art deprived. 

Sculptures are great outdoor artworks you can still admire. One of the largest collections of sculptures around is on the Stanford Campus. You can limit yourself to Rodin, it’s the largest in the U.S., or go around campus and find other inspiring pieces.

The Triton Museum in Santa Clara features a sculpture garden on the premises. (https://www.santaclaraca.gov/Home/Components/ServiceDirectory/ServiceDirectory/1260/2661)

Some local towns have maps to their public art works. I found the bike racks in Los Altos a welcoming change and great for kids to try to find them all!

If you are more of a mural enthusiast I recommend San Jose, Redwood City, and Palo Alto.

Some examples of public art:

Santa Clara: https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/about-santa-clara/maps/art-statues

Los Altos: https://www.losaltosca.gov/publicartscommission/page/public-sculpture

Palo Alto (map): https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1AUOuWuDvI0_jAbZYvvY_JBD9lIs&ll=37.42470074587974%2C-122.16085689067381&z=14

History

San Jose History Walk (Number 25)

San Jose as the first Capitol of California has a rich history to share. They compiled a history walk for downtown. No need to print out a map, you can just follow the signs. If you would rather have a digital idea or would like to print out the brochure, here is the PDF: https://www.sanjose.org/pdf/downtown-san-jose-historic-walking-tour-guide

Japantown in San Jose offers historic information on their benches.

A few other towns have  lists of historic buildings. Rich Heli has compiled three historic walking tours for Mountain View: https://rick-heli.info/mvtour/

Shopping

High Delta Market a window art installation in Palo Alto.

While most shops are currently closed, most downtowns invite you for a nice evening stroll on main street. Mountain View, for example, closed off their downtown area for most car traffic. The other night I walked by an exercise class. Also window shopping is an option. My favorite non-shopping window is in Palo Alto at the Future Institute.

If you feel the need to acquire something while on a walk, check out a little free library near you or in some other neighborhood.

Nature

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

I love the fact that we are able to walk to our neighborhood park. If you want to mix it up, why not explore another park near you? 

Canopy has  multiple self-guided tree walks: https://canopy.org/our-work/tree-walks/

Animals

Buddy the new donkey of Bol Park, Palo Alto.

Birdwatching while walking is always a great pastime. If you want to see egrets you should check out the Google campus.

Bring the kids for a peak at the donkeys in Bol Park

Do you have ideas for fun activity walks?

Bridge to the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

Find a Bridge to East Palo Alto

Wishing Trees signs at Palo Alto Art Center.

Originally I wanted to tell you about the Wishing Trees in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. A wonderful idea to bridge these two cities together by Canopy. Seven trees had been nominated to become wishing trees and people would leave messages written on hanging cards on the tree. Plus you would learn about what type of tree your wishing tree was. 

This beautiful idea ended October 31st. I hope they’ll repeat this some time.

Gate to Ravenswood Bay Trail. Hours are 5:00 am - 10:00 pm.

But as of August 7th, 2020 there is a real bridge connecting East Palo Alto with the neighboring counties: the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Ravenswood OSP is part of the Bay Trail and with it’s only 0.6 miles in length it establishes to connect three counties for a total of 80 miles of continuous trails.

Ravenswood Bay Trail bridge in East Palo Alto.

At the end of Bay Ave, an under construction path, you will reach the Cooley Landing Education Center. Right now from this side of the trail this is the only parking lot into the park. You can also enter from the other side using the Dumbarton bridge entrance off Highway 84. 

Biker on the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

What would you do to build a bridge to East Palo Alto?

More suggestions to ride your bike along the Bay: https://untilsuburbia.com/take-advantage-of-your-bike/

One-way signs at Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino.

Journey a One-Way Road

Entrance to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Perserve, Cupertino.

Hiking is always a great pastime in the Bay Area. These days, with the continuing of shelter in place, hiking is a well deserved alternative from your walk around the neighborhood. We went Tuesday to Rancho San Antonio, a hilly terrain in the Los Altos Hills mountains. My health app recorded a 24 floor climb and almost 11,000 steps!

Map of Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino, showing the one-way hikes.

There are multiple hikes and different levels of difficulty. As a COVID-19 safe measure, the most narrow paths are one-way. Please check out the map before you start. They no longer offer printed maps, so you might want to take a picture. When we were there on Tuesday the bathrooms were open again. Of course this might change without much notice. Bring plenty of water since the water fountains are all taped up. 

Wild turkeys at Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino.

Deer Hollow Farm is currently closed, but on our way we saw wild turkeys, a few deer, and some lizards, so a short hike with your young ones is still a lot of fun. Plus they put up signs of encouragement from the farm, e.g.: “You goat this!” or “Sheep your distance!”

View of the Bay and the Diablo Range mountains.

If you are up for a longer hike you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of the Bay. 

Where is your go-to hiking spot?

Other short hikes in the Bay Area can be found from my 50 things to do in San Mateo County, 50 things to do in Los Altos/Los Altos Hills and 50 things to do in Cupertino.

If you have other ideas for short hikes in the Bay Area I would love it if you could share them with me in the comment section.

Posters from Oree Originol honoring People of Color killed by law enforcement

Support Black Lives

“Please, I can’t breath.” It’s been a week of protest and anger. A wave has swept this nation. A powerful series of waves, like water will grind down the land. Now is the time to rise.

Justice for George Floyd an illustrations by Oree Originol

Protests are just the beginning. In order to change the systemic racism we have to be aware of privilege, come together, enable change, listen, and act. 

Here is a list of things that will help to make sure Black Lives Matter.

Action cards

The most creative approach to the question on what to do about racial injustice comes from the Oakland Museum of California with their Take Action cards. Check out their Instagram feed to see the cards (instagram.com/oaklandmuseumca). 

Donate money to the cause

Bail and legal support:

Flyer on how to support #BlackLivesMatter

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/)

Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund (https://rally.org/ARCbailfund)

San Francisco National Lawyers Guild (NLG) (nlgsf.org/ways-to-contribute/)

NAACP (https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=15780&_ga=2.22006142.412847870.1591227461-53649289.1591227461)

ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/give/now)

Non-emergency support:

Black Lives Matter (https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019)

East Oakland Collective (http://www.eastoaklandcollective.com/)

People’s Breakfast Oakland (https://linktr.ee/PBO)

Planting Justice (https://plantingjustice.org/)

Roots Clinic (https://rootsclinic.org/)

Restore Oakland (http://restoreoakland.org/)

Oakland Indie Alliances (http://www.oaklandindiealliance.com/repair)

Anti Police Terror Project (https://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/)

Volunteer

Rock the Vote (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/)

A list of actions against racism by the UN: Let’s fight racism (https://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/)

Vote

President Obama weighted in lately on how important voting is (https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067) and to move a step further you can read the report and toolkit from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights developed by the Obama Foundation (https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/Toolkit.pdf)

Black Future Lab (https://blackfutureslab.org/)

Track progress of legislations

Campaign Zero let’s you track the progress state legislations against police violence (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#action)

Make a call

To contact your representative just got easier, just download the 5calls app (https://5calls.org/)

Sign Petitions

Poster from the 'Black Panthers at 50' exhibit at the OMCA: Unity is the Solution

Color of Change (https://act.colorofchange.org/signup/state-emergency-black-people-are-dying)

NAACP (http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=27063)

Join a group

Showing up for Racial Justice (https://www.surjbayarea.org/community.html)

Educate yourself about racism

General reading list on how to be an antiracist, put together by the San Francisco library:

https://sfpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/433865467_sfpl_readersadvisory/1494408919_be_an_antiracist

Truth be told is a podcast from KQED (https://www.kqed.org/podcasts/truthbetold).

Corrine Shutuck wrote a list of 75 things white people can do for racial justice (https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234)

Great resource list especially for kids from DC Area Educators for Social Justice (https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/resources)

Buy from black businesses

BAOBOB is a directory listing for black owned businesses in the Bay Area (https://baobobdirectory.com/)

The Official Black Wall Street app lists black-owned businesses (https://officialblackwallstreet.com/app/)

For black-owned restaurants download the EatOkra app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/eatokra/id1175921760)

Black Nation app (https://www.blacknation.app/)

We Buy Black (https://webuyblack.com/)

Buy art that matters

The Tracy Piper has a vibrant print at the Voss Gallery. Proceeds go to Black Lives Matter (https://vossgallery.art/collections/the-tracy-piper/products/black-lives-matter)

Black Table Arts, a Minnesota based initiative to help community through art (http://www.blacktablearts.com/)

Kyle Harder donates proceeds from his print RISE! to Reclaim The Block (https://kyleharterart.bigcartel.com/product/rise)

How do you support black lives?

Resources:

https://www.7×7.com/black-lives-matter-bay-area-resources-2646147346/get-directly-involved-with-black-lives-matter

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13881199/5-ways-to-show-up-for-racial-justice-today

Wind Wave with art in the park sign at Byxbee Park, Palo Alto.

Enjoy Some Art at Byxbee Park

A few years ago I wrote about The Pole Field at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto (Walk the trails between Bay and posts). Since my radius of wandering is limited right now, I recently went back there. Speaking of limited, parking is only allowed in the lots, no street parking. But this was no issue in the middle of the day on a weekday.

There were only a few people walking and running. The most interesting method of movement was presented by three motorized unicyclists in full gear on a hot day.

 Foraging Islands by Watershed Sculpture at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto.

I did come for the art and the joy of exercise. Foraging Islands by Watershed Sculpture was installed in 2018 and is an ecological sculpture absolutely fitting for the Byxbee Park and its idea of intersecting nature and culture. With the help of a multitude of volunteers gathering nearby materials, they established a dam-like temporary public art installation, a perfect habitat for insects and rodents.

Wind Wave by Peter Richads, Michael Oppenheimer and George Hargreve & Associates at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto.

Across from the Foraging Island is the Wind Wave which is part of the permanent art displayed together with The Pole Field and The Chevrons, a collaboration of artists Peter Richards, Michael Oppenheimer and the landscape design and architects George Hargreaves and Associates

Have you ever enjoyed a walk of nature and art at Byxbee Park?