Tilden Park

We live in small house. Not a “tiny house,” just a small home. Some mornings it feels like it only takes about 20 minutes for my boys - Arlo 3 ½ and Avery 1 ½ - to destroy any sense of order. Their toys, clothes and food subsume every surface like a flood. Yesterday was one of those days. I felt we had to leave the house to save the house. Tilden Park is often the perfect solution. This 2000+ acre park is located in the hills above Berkeley stretching south toward Oakland. We did a whirlwind tour of the park, hitting all three of our favorite spots: the Little Farm, the Carousel, and the Steam Train.

Little Farm in Tilden Park

Little Farm in Tilden Park

The first stop was "Little Farm ." Yes, it’s just like it sounds - a small public farm tucked away at the northern edge of Tilden’s woods and meadows. As is the ritual, we brought celery to feed the cows and goats. This was the first time we went that Avery was engaged and curious about the animals. He fed a goat for the first time and tried to chase the chickens. Then (ritual #2) we sought out Farmer Stanley, a gracious English farmer who oversees the farm and the dozens of students who volunteer there. Stanley wasn’t to be found, but Arlo met a friendly grandmother.  They conversed for a good three minutes, and ended the encounter with a hug. I am happy to see this quality of appreciation for and connection with elders. (It also reminds me of his dad, a historian who often interviews veteran activists in the Bay Area.)

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Next, we made our way to Tilden’s antique carousel,  a short drive from the farm. The 105 year old carousel was made by the Herschel-Spillman Company and has been at that site since 1948. It is beautiful. There is so much craftsmanship, and it is really fun to ride!

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Our last stop was the Steam Train - a must stop if you are ever in the East Bay. There is something magical about the scale of riding the little steam train through the tall Redwoods. The train takes you on a 12 minute loop complete with a tunnel and a miniature western town.

Tilden has many incredible trails. I look forward to the day when the boys are ready for longer hikes. Recently, I heard there are rock wall remnants referred to as the “East Bay Walls” or “Berkeley Mystery Walls” that can be found in Tilden Park. Apparently to see them you would need to hike quite far and high. The internet offers a handful of  conspiracies as to who made them. I just asked my archeologist neighbor about it. I’ll keep you posted.

Casey’s parallel post is about a family day trip to Fort Tilden in Queens. I was hoping that there could be a direct connection between the their Tilden namesakes, but it doesn’t appear so. While they lived at the same time - their 19th century lives overlapping for 40 years - I found no evidence of relation. Perhaps, living 2900 miles apart, the Tilden’s had their own version of parallel coasts.

I am interested in learning more about the “East Bay Walls.” Does anyone have any information about their origins, location, function?

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park 

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park