5 Best Berkeley Trails for Running with a Stroller
“Start ’em young,” they say. However, nobody ever specified how young. Maybe “stroller age” is the best time to start them, then! Here are five best Berkeley trails for running with a stroller.
Written & edited by Pavlína Marek
So, you’re ready to hit the trails again. Your little one is used to the stroller. You’ve figured out what works for the two of you outside. And you want to take on the fun stuff again. Arguably, roots and rocks aren’t a great match for a stroller. However, the Berkeley area has many smooth, beautiful trails to offer so you get your training in, see some greenery, and take a gulp of fresh air together with your partner, your little one, or the whole family. Let’s explore the best Berkeley trails for running with a stroller.
1. Nimitz Way, Tilden Regional Park
If you’re looking for an easy, smooth, paved trail with gorgeous views, there is no better option than the Inspiration Trail in Tilden Regional Park. It has virtually no hills when compared to the rest of the area, only gently rolling knolls, and the views there are unparalleled. Mount Diablo dominates the landscape to the east and on a clear winter day, you can even see the snowy tops of the Sierra Nevada.
Since the stroller-friendly option is an out-and-back route, you can make your outing as long or as short as you want. The longest option comes to roughly eight miles. (After 4 miles, Nimitz Way turns to Old Nimitz Way and is no longer suitable for strollers, so you’ll need to turn around.)
There are exactly two downsides. One, it’s very exposed. This means that on windy or extremely hot days, it can get a little rough there. Two, there’s no water fountain anywhere near the parking lot or on the trail—so make sure to bring your water bottle!
2. San Francisco Bay Trail Spur and Seawall Drive, Shorebird Park
Run along the water, stop at a playground, and listen as small bay waves wash up against the seawall. Because there are several parking options, you can adjust this loop/lollipop loop to your own needs. Want to grab lunch while you’re at it? There’s a Japanese restaurant with outdoor seating at your service! Do you or your little one prefer looking at boats? Run along the marina instead of the San Francisco Bay Trail Spur to switch up the views!
If you park at Brickyard Cove, run to the Shorebird Park via San Francisco Bay Trail Spur, then get on Seawall Drive, and take it past the Marina before getting back on the San Francisco Bay Trail Spur, you’ll get a 2.3-mile lollipop loop. If you park closer to Shorebird Park or do a few laps, you can, of course, adjust the length of your run.
The advantage of this option is that there are several bathrooms along the way should need be.
When you’re there, you can also check out the Perimeter Trail, also known as Dorothy Stegmann Trail in César E. Chávez Park for a few extra miles! (There’s also parking space available right next to the park at Berkeley Marina Parking.)
3. Seaview Trail to Vollmer Peak, Tilden Regional Park
(Oh, you’ll either love me or hate me for recommending this one.)
At just over 1.5 miles long, this route will make for a short but definitely steep training run. Let’s reiterate this: it gets STEEP. If you want to train for hills, this is THE trail to do so on with a stroller. There’s a drinking fountain and a bathroom at the trailhead and you can even take your little one for a ride in a steam train between hill repeats!
The route is fairly simple to follow. Start at the Tilden Steam Train parking lot (there’s extra parking just past the trailhead) and head up Seaview Trail. When you reach a fork in the trail, stay on the pavement by steering left onto Vollmer Peak Road. After one final uphill push, you’ll reach the top at three-quarters of a mile in. Turn around and head back down before going for another round!
4. Marina Park Pathway, Emeryville Marina Park
If you want to run by the water and enjoy the cool breeze that comes from the Bay, Emeryville Marina Park is a perfect place. Natural A/C provided by the large body of water ensures you’ll (almost) never be too hot. You can do a 1.5-mile loop on the pathway or extend your run and the fun factor by running on the wooden path right on the water. This way, you’ll have a 2.5-mile loop.
There are bathrooms. There’s a Chinese seafood restaurant and a Polynesian restaurant. Your little one can play at a playground at the end of your run and you both can admire yachts in the marina.
Park next to the playground and head right on the Marina Park Pathway across the road. Follow it as it wraps around the tip of the peninsula and takes you to the Emeryville Marina Sport Fishing Dock. Continue along the water; the paved path continues past the dock and it’ll take you back to the park. If you wish to extend your run, go past Trader Vic’s Emeryville to get on the wooden path. Follow it until you reach Ensign Drive, then get on it. When you reach Captain Drive, turn right, then cross Powell Street. You’ll get back on the Marina Park Pathway behind the firehouse; follow it until you get back to the playground.
5. Stream Trail, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Although it’s a little further, if you can stuff the stroller in a car and drive a little, this is a perfect trail choice for a hot summer day. Run in the shade of fragrant redwoods and enjoy the cool valley air! At the end of your run, your little one can even play in a sandbox (yes, there’s a little playground in the valley). The stream the trail follows provides a beautiful soundtrack to your run. Two or three drinking fountains (based on how far you’ll go) ensure you don’t get thirsty even if you forget your water bottle. There are several bathrooms.
Only part of the trail is paved. Eventually, it turns into a dirt trail which, however, is still wide and smooth enough for a stroller to go on. It takes about a mile to reach the end of the pavement. Another out-and-back route, this trail offers you the possibility to cut your outsing short or extend it based on your needs.
That’s a wrap! There are several other good places to run (for example, the Emeryville Greenway), however, a lot of them are interrupted by roads, which is why they didn’t make the list. If you’d like to chime in and share your favorite Berkeley trails for running with a stroller, feel free to do so in the comments!