As we settle in for what looks to be a long, hot summer, there are places within the East Bay Regional Parks where you can still beat the heat.
The park district's swim areas are an obvious choice. The district has swim beaches with lifeguard service at eight regional parks: Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton, Del Valle south of Livermore, Contra Loma in Antioch, Lake Anza at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, Lake Temescal in Oakland, Cull Canyon in Castro Valley, Don Castro in Hayward and Quarry Lakes in Fremont.
And there are swimming pools with lifeguard service at three regional parks: Castle Rock in Walnut Creek, Little Hills in San Ramon and Roberts in Oakland.
In addition, you can swim at two main beaches at regional shorelines on San Francisco Bay: Crown Beach in Alameda and Keller Cove at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Pt. Richmond. No lifeguards are on duty at these beaches, you swim at your own risk.
Fees and hours of operation vary. There's more detailed information at the park district website, www.ebparks.org. Click on "activities" at the left side of the home page, click again on "swimming," then a third time on "swim facilities."
If you want to cool off without getting wet, I can suggest several possibilities. Pt. Pinole in Richmond is a great park for hot weather hiking, because it has the cooling breezes from San Pablo Bay and lots of shady eucalyptus groves. Besides
The park entrance is on Giant Highway off Richmond Parkway. There's a parking fee of $5 when the kiosk is attended.
Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area is located at the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek, a mile or two past Northgate High School. Besides the pool, picnic grounds and ball field, there's a scenic walk up Pine Canyon past the Castle Rocks. It's mostly in the shade.
Another good bet is Kennedy Grove, located on San Pablo Dam Road between Orinda and El Sobrante, below the reservoir's dam. The park has lots of picnic tables surrounding a large turf grass area in a grove of eucalyptus trees. For the more energetic, there's a loop hike up to a ridge top, but part of that trail is steep and hot in the summer.
It gets very hot in the summer at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. But you can cool off underground at the park's Greathouse Visitor Center, where all ages are welcome, or on a tour at the Hazel-Atlas silica mine, where visitors must be age 7 or older. Underground the temperature is always in the 50s.
More information on these parks and others, including downloadable maps, is available at the district website.
Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will beat the heat with an early hike from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 23, at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley. Her destination is Wildcat Peak and perhaps beyond.
The hike is free. Meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center at the north end of Central Park Drive. Bring water and a breakfast snack to share. For more information, call 510-544-2233.
Vertumnus was the Roman god of seasons and plant growth, who could change his appearance at will. Naturalist Bob Kanagaki will evoke Vertumnus during a walk from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, to see how the park's flora and fauna have responded to summer weather.
The hike is free, designed for ages 7 and older. Meet at the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, four miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
The Wednesday Walkers, the informal hiking group led by naturalist Chris Garcia, will explore Brushy Peak Regional Preserve near Livermore on a hike starting at 9:30 a.m. June 27.
This one is a moderate-to-strenuous 4.5-mile loop. The payoff is a panoramic view of the Livermore Valley, plus the chance of seeing birds of prey, including golden eagles. I've occasionally seen the eagles when I've hiked there.
The hike is free. Meet at the staging area at the end of Laughlin Road. To get there from I-580, exit to northbound Vasco Road. Turn right immediately on Northfront Road. In one mile, turn left on Laughlin Road and drive two miles to the park. For information, call 510-544-3282.