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Wildflower bloom at Albany Bulb

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Location : Albany Bulb, East Shore State Park, Albany, CA.

Parking : Free

Trail type : Loop

Trail Length : 2-3 miles

Elevation Gain : 26 ft

Difficulty : Easy

Trails traversed : Albany Waterfront Trail

Dogs Allowed ? Yes

Pro Tip : Wear sturdy shoes. Go during sunset.

Post Hike Grub Stop : Daryoush Persian Restaurant, Berkeley, CA.

Albany Bulb is an area slightly northwest of Berkeley, a former construction debris landfill and an adventure playground for artists, muralists and sculptors. A number of hiking trails weave through the 31 acres of this East Shore State Park, providing magnificent views of the SF skyline, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. From mid April to mid May, the park is ablaze with a variety of wildflowers, the red Valerian being the most prolific amongst them. The area is very peaceful, with quirky art installations scattered throughout the park.

Parking : I noticed atleast 3 different parking lots along Buchanan St and its side streets. There was ample parking when we arrived on a Friday evening at 7:30pm. There are restrooms available at the entrance of the park.

The Trail: Albany Waterfront Trail runs the entire length of Albany Bulb with many small offshoots interconnecting various parts of the trail. In all, I calculated 3.5 miles of almost flat, easy trail throughout the park. Follow the trail map in All Trails to chart your course. Since the entire area is a construction debris landfill, there are a number of rebars sticking out of the ground, so watch your step.

The Waterfront Trail starts from Buchanan St and runs towards the water. There is a small beach with picnic tables which provide spectacular views of the SF skyline and the two bridges on either side. This is an excellent spot to end your hike - with a picnic basket and unbeatable views.

Depending on the tide, you can go out all the way to the waters edge along the waterfront trail. Sturdy shoes will come in handy to walk over the uneven walkway created on the water with rocks and broken concrete.

The Red Valerian flowers bloom across the entirety of Albany Bulb. They grow in clumps alongside the trail, displaying vibrant pink, red and sometimes even white flowers. Since they grow on the side of the trail, they are not in danger of being trampled by the Instagram selfie seekers. Although they look gorgeous, they are non-native plants from the Mediterranean, and spread easily if not curtailed. Nevertheless, their colorful display is a treat to the eyes.

Other than the wildflowers seen during Spring, there are "Burning Man"esque art installations all along the trail, ranging from colorful graffiti to metal sculpture of a gigantic woman with her arms held out as though welcoming you to admire the view behind her.

Numerous benches surrounded by wildflowers, are strategically placed along the trail, offering spectacular Bay views.

Notice the torsoless manniquins hung on the tree - yet another quirky art installation.

Also along the trail are two swings offering similar stunning views of the Bay and beyond.

When you have had admired the views and explored the art installations to your hearts content, use the AllTrails map to find your way back to your car.

Post Hike Grub Stop : Berkeley, which is the town South of Albany has a number of restaurants to fit any budget. When we did this hike (or rather a stroll), we decided to try Persian food at Daryoush restaurant close to the Berkeley campus. Parking is roadside or at the Berkeley crescent at the end of the street ($2/hr). Service was friendly and quick, and food was mild, yet tasty.

L to R : Doogh (salty yogurt drink, like salt lassi), veggie kabob with special lentils and saffron rice, ghormeh sabzi (spinach curry) with basmati rice.


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