The East Bay Regional Park District will kick off its 2013 summer Healthy Parks Healthy People campaign on Saturday with four naturalist-led hikes at regional parks conveniently located throughout the district. The hope is to encourage people to take advantage of the parklands for healthy and enjoyable outdoor recreation. Here's the schedule:

At Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, naturalist Bob Kanagaki will lead a walk from 10 a.m. to noon through the old Somersville mining town site, while recounting its fascinating history. The walk is for ages 7 and older. Meet Bob at the parking lot at the top of Somersville Road, 5 miles south of Highway 4.

At Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton, naturalist Cat Taylor will host a stroll from 7:30 to 9 a.m. through the woods along the arroyo to the scenic overlook of a bustling bird rookery. Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard east of Valley Avenue. Meet Cat at the parking lot by the water slides.

At Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond, naturalist Anthony Fisher will take visitors on a leisurely, mostly flat stroll from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to explore the natural beauty and learn the history of a park that was once the center of dynamite manufacturing. Meet Anthony at the entrance parking lot on Giant Highway a bit south of Atlas Road.


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Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont offers great views of south San Francisco Bay and an abundance of bird life. Naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a hike there from noon to 2:30 p.m. Coyote Hills is at 8000 Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway north of Highway 84. Kristina's hike is for ages 12 and older. Meet her at the visitor center.

All four hikes are on Saturday. All are free, though the four parks charge a nominal parking fee when their entrance kiosks are attended. For details, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2553.

Healthy Parks Healthy People Bay Area is a program that was conceived last year by the Institute at the Golden Gate in partnership with the park district and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Since then, some 29 organizations throughout the Bay Area have joined the effort, including regional, state and national public agencies, health care providers; and public health and educational institutions.

The goal is to coordinate programs aimed at educating the public and raising awareness of the substantial health benefits of outdoor recreation. Ultimately the hope is to encourage broad policy changes to address the health issues of obesity and chronic disease, especially among children.

For more information on the Healthy Parks Healthy People campaign, including a festival on June 22 at Quarry Lakes in Fremont, visit www.ebparks.org.

BLACK DIAMOND: During the coal mining heyday at what is now Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, the product was transported from the mines to the Delta shoreline docks by gravity-driven railroad.

The railroad bed still exists, and naturalist Eddie Willis will lead an easy, 1-mile walk on it from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday.

The walk is free, but Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. Meet Eddie at the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 5 miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. For information call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

SAND CASTLES: Piles of sand will be transformed into fantastic shapes and figures during the annual sand castle and sculpture contest at Crown Beach in Alameda.

This perennial crowd-pleaser is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on the beach in front of the changing room building. It's fun for all ages: you can choose to construct a castle or sculpture in the youth, family or adult division. Or it's a kick just to watch the artists at work.

Free registration begins at 9 a.m., viewing and judging are at noon, and prizes are awarded at 1 p.m. There's no cash at stake here: awards consist of ribbons, trophies and bragging rights.

The contest is sponsored by the Bay View Women's Club, East Bay Regional Park District, and Alameda Recreation & Parks Department.

The Crown Beach entrance is at the intersection of Otis and Shore Line Drives. For more information, call Crab Cove Visitor Center at 510-544-3187.

Contact Ned MacKay at nedmackay@comcast.net.

PARKS MASTER PLAN: After a lengthy process including six public hearings, the final draft of the East Bay Regional Park District's master plan is available for download at the park district website, www.ebparks.org.

The master plan is the planning document that will guide park district land acquisitions, parkland operations and development for the next decade and beyond. In drafting the plan, district staff took under consideration extensive public input that was received via the hearings and other communications. Besides the draft plan itself, responses to the public comments are available at the website for review and download. The final plan is expected to be adopted by the park district board of directors at a public meeting later in June.

INVASION ABATEMENT: Di Rosario, the supervisor of Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, continues his campaign against the invasive French broom plant with a volunteer work day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 9.

If you'd like to help, meet at the park's Canyon Meadow staging area. Drive into the park at its Redwood Road entrance, about 2 miles east of the intersection with Skyline Boulevard in Oakland, and continue to the road's end at Canyon Meadows. Plant removing tools will be provided. RSVP to redwood@ebparks.org.

TILDEN: The Little Farm is the star of a children's program from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley.

The program is intended for kids ages 1 through 3 accompanied by their adult friends. Naturalist James Wilson will guide the little ones as they brush goats, pet chickens and meet the cows.

Starting at 2 p.m. the same day you have a choice. From 2 to 3 p.m., interpretive student aide Morgan Rani Evans will host a meet-and-greet with the bees in the nearby Kid's Garden, including honey tasting. And from 2 to 4 p.m., James will lead a walk for ages 6 and older to look for tadpoles, newt larvae, dragonfly nymphs and other residents of the Tilden Nature Area ponds.

All three programs are free. The Little Farm and Kid's Garden are both next to the Environmental Education Center at the north end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

TAKE A HIKE: The Wednesday Walkers will take on the lower slopes of Mt. Diablo in a strenuous, naturalist-led 6-mile hike starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. It's free of charge, and all are welcome.

Meet at Diablo Foothills Regional Park's staging area at the end of Livorna Road in Walnut Creek. For information, call 510-544-3282 or email cgarcia@ebparks.org.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.

Contact Ned MacKay at nedmackay@comcast.net.