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Exploring Tilden Park Via Nimitz Way Trail

Location : Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, CA

Parking : Free

Trail type : Out and Back

Trail Length : 8.4 miles

Elevation Gain : 791ft

Difficulty : Easy - Moderate

Trails traversed : Nimitz Way Trail

Nimitz Way is a popular hiking and biking roadway along the San Pablo Ridge in Berkeley's Tilden Park. With excellent views of North Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline, this has been rated as one of the 27 absolutely stunning hikes in the Bay Area. During the Cold War, it became the guarded entrance to a Nike missile site, remnants of which can be seen at the end of the trail.

Birds eye view of the town of El Sobranto from the Nike Missile Launch site

Parking at the trailhead at Inspiration Point is free. Overflow parking is permitted along Wildcat Canyon Road. At 9am on a Saturday, the spots were all full, but we found a number of people in the process of pulling out their cars after an early morning hike.

The trail starts at the gate and restroom at Inspiration point, is 4.2 miles long, each way and fully paved, end to end. For those who like hiking on unpaved trails there are many unpaved offshoots to take from the main paved path, which rejoin/intersect Nimitz trail at many points. There are many benches strategically placed along the route which tempt the hiker in you to slow down and enjoy the view.

Paved trail all the way

The trail is almost fully exposed. You initially pass through a few groves of oak, eucalyptus and pine trees. After which the trail opens up to meadows and pastures. During our hike in December, the green meadows were a welcome sight from the California golden brown we are used to seeing the rest of the year.

Veering off the paved path to explore some more.

Since the trail is along a ridge, the views are spectacular on either side and with every turn. As you ascend the trail you get a birds eye view of the San Pablo reservoir on the right, and the city of El Sobranto in the distance. On the left, you catch sight of the skyline of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz island in the distance, Angel Island and Marin County on the other side of the Bay. The views get even more breathtaking between mile 3 and mile 4 with an expanse of green meadows flanking the Bay views, whilst cows and their young 'uns lazily wander on the pastures.

Even the cattle take their sweet time to enjoy the view on this mountain ridge!

At the 4.2 mile mark, the paved trail ends and turns into gravel. To the right of the trail is a small hill which leads to the remnants of what used to be a Nike missile launch site. Proceed ahead to explore more, or turn back to follow the same route back to your car.

View of Golden Gate Bridge in the distance

This scenic hike is best done on a cool summer day or in the winter when the sun is not bearing down on you.

Endless green pastures and views along San Pablo ridge.


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