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Best Backyard Getaways

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NOISES OFF Nature calls for a few moments of silence in 2021.

In the Bay Area, residents tend to heap praise upon the California redwoods further up North, but the majesty redwoods display in our own backyards is terribly underrated. As solitude and reflection force themselves into the center of our lives, this is the perfect time to reconnect with nature and ourselves. The East Bay offers plenty of opportunities.

Redwood Regional Park is a hidden redwood forest that lies off Redwood Road just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland. The forest’s groves give scant evidence of the park’s flourishing past—in the mid-1800s the area was the scene of industrial logging to supply building materials for the San Francisco Bay Area. Thankfully, the logging era has passed, and 150-foot coast redwoods have replaced those cut down.

Hikers, bicyclists, joggers and picnickers from all over the Bay Area call the 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park their destination for recreation. The woodland trails lead through redwood groves and oak woodlands and across creeks and meadows. It is one of the few open space areas in the City of Oakland where dogs are allowed—on leash—throughout the park.

Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserves’ 240 acres boast a wide diversity of native plants. Flower enthusiasts can take a self-guided, 1.7-mile tour that winds through a variety of terrains. The trail is open daily, from dawn to dusk.

Next to the hum and industry of Oakland International Airport lies the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, a 741-acre park leased from the Port of Oakland that protects the remainder of a once-extensive marshland at San Leandro Bay. Meditative walks contemplating the dissonance between the slow constant of nature and the rapid pace of humanity are highly recommended.