"Barns, brands, bovines and birthday" is the billing for the Pioneer Folk Festival on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, during which the park will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Sunol's long and interesting history has included habitation by Native Americans, pioneering homesteaders and ranchers. The East Bay Regional Park District acquired the first Sunol acreage in 1962.

Together with adjoining regional parklands, the area totals more than 24,500 acres of some of the East Bay's most remote and beautiful public open space. The parks are linked by the 28-mile Ohlone Wilderness Trail, traversing from Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore through Sunol-Ohlone and on to Mission Peak Regional Park in Fremont.

The folk festival will be from 1 to 6:30 p.m., with a variety of activities centered at Sunol's Old Green Barn Visitor Center. Most are free of charge; there will be barbecue food for sale. Here's the schedule:

  • At 1 and 4:30 p.m. there will be live music by banjo player Gordy Ohliger. From 3 to 4 p.m. the group "Extended Roots" will play.

  • From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., descendants of the Geary family, original Sunol homesteaders, will help recount their history.

  • At 1 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m., there will be an interactive fashion show, "Ranch Dressing."

  • Square and line dancers can stamp and skip from 2 to 3 p.m. and again from 5 to 6 p.m.

  • Various other activities and exhibits are planned from 1 to 5 p.m., culminating with a campfire and birthday ceremony from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

  • And there's more. Moderately strenuous barn-to-barn history hikes will step off at 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. The route ascends from the Old Green Barn to the High Valley Barn and back.

  • Hourlong history horseback rides start at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. These cost $25 per person ($29 for nondistrict residents). Riders must be at least 4½ feet tall, and registration is required. To register, visit www.ebparksonline.org or call 888-327-2757. Select option 2. For the 11 a.m., ride refer to class 30687. For 1 p.m., it's 30688, and for 3 p.m. 30689.

    Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, as it is now called officially, is located on Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of Interstate 680 near the town of Sunol. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For more information on the park, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3249.

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    Speaking of celebrations, the East Bay Regional Park District, in collaboration with other public agencies, has completed an important link in the regional bicycle trail network between Pleasanton and Dublin.

    The no-longer missing link is an undercrossing of Interstate 580, which provides a safe, nonmotorized route for children and adults between homes, schools, parks and businesses.

    Project partners with the park district are Dublin, Pleasanton, the Alameda County Transportation Commission, Zone 7 Water Agency and Caltrans.

    Funding came from federal agencies, Alameda County Measure B, the park district's Measure WW bond issue, and the two cities. Construction began last April.

    There will be a grand opening ceremony from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the trail entrance adjacent to the Dublin Library at the Dublin Civic Center, 100 Civic Plaza. The public is welcome.

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    Birds of Martinez Regional Shoreline will be the focus of a nature walk from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Martinez Regional Shoreline, led by naturalist Anthony Fisher.

    The program is free. Meet at the end of Ferry Street in Martinez. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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    The nocturnal world of owls will be revealed during a dinner walk from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, on the Deer Jaw Trail at Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore, led by naturalist Cat Taylor. If you come, bring a flashlight, dinner and a blanket.

    The program is designed for ages 7 and older. It's free and reservations are not necessary. Del Valle has a $6 parking fee per vehicle. Meet at the Rocky Ridge Visitor Center on the west side of the lake.

    For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3242.

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    At Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, there are two programs planned for Wednesday, Oct. 31, both led by naturalist Kevin Damstra. One is a flashlight mine tour from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the park's underground mining museum, during which Kevin will talk about mining myths and legends.

    Designed for ages 15 and older, the tour has a fee of $10 for adults and $8 for ages 15-16 ($15 and $11 respectively for nondistrict residents). Reservations are required. Call 888-327-2757, select option 2 and refer to program 30255.

    The other program is a 15-minute uphill walk to the park's historic Rose Hill Cemetery to learn about life and death in the coal mining communities. The program is free, designed for ages 10 and up. Registration is required. Refer to program 30259.

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

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    At Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, there's a family nature walk scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, led by Anthony Fisher. Then from 3 to 4 p.m., naturalist aide Morgan Evans and the staff will put on an indoor puppet show that's a crowd pleaser for both young and old.

    Both programs are free. Meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center, at the north end of Central Park Drive. For information, call, 510-544-2233.

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    The Saturday Stroll on Oct. 27 will be an easy three-mile walk through madrone and redwood forests at Roberts Regional Recreation Area on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland. Dogs are welcome on this one.

    Saturday and Sunday Strolls are great family outings. Roberts Recreation Area is about a mile north of the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Joaquin Miller Road. For information on the strolls, call 510-544-3187.

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    Spotting peregrine falcons and California clapper rails will be the objective of a safari from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Oct. 28, led by naturalist Michael Charnofsky.

    The group will search for the birds first at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland, then caravan by car to the Fruitvale Bridge in Alameda. Clapper rails are an endangered species.

    The program is free for ages 7 and up, please. Meet at Arrowhead Marsh Staging Area at the shoreline. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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