OAKLAND -- Plans are under way to upgrade and map the Dimond Canyon trail system located two blocks from the heart of the Dimond Business District at Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.
The trail system winds 21/2 miles up the canyon connecting to the Joaquin Miller Park trail system through a tunnel under Monterey Boulevard.
The lush, fern-filled canyon is sprinkled with redwoods and oak trees and is home to the Sausal Creek watershed, which runs through the canyon on its way to San Francisco Bay.
"I'm amazed by the natural beauty of the area and the Sausal Creek. I can't believe there is this beautiful scenery in my own backyard," said Joseph Tanios, a Redwood Heights resident. "However, there is room for improvement. I wish there was better support in order to make the trails safer for hikers."
Stan Dodson, the operations manager for La Farine Bakery and a board member of the Dimond Improvement Association, agreed. Dodson is a hiking enthusiast and has taken the maintenance of the trails into his own hands.
"I think that improving and promoting the trail system adds value to both the residents and the businesses in the Dimond district. It's added something to my life personally. It's one of those things that people don't know about," Dodson said.
Working in conjunction with the city and the Friends of Sausal Creek, Dodson and a group of volunteers provide trail maintenance, including the pruning of foliage
Dodson is seeking to take his efforts even further by creating a detailed map of the canyon. The trails in the area start and stop, and people get lost and miss out on gorgeous scenery, he said.
"I love the canyon and want it to be accessible to everyone," he said.
Dodson's efforts are based on the map of the area produced by the Friends of Sausal Creek, but the map is centered on the creek and lacks detail about the surrounding trails.
The new map will feature details about the four trailheads in the area, located at the bottom of El Centro Avenue, across from Dimond Park; at the end of Benevides Avenue, off El Centro Avenue; at the end of Bridgeview Drive, off Leimert Boulevard in the Oakmore neighborhood; and at Monterey Boulevard between Park and Leimert boulevards.
The new map will suggest routes for scenic hikes as well as information about safeguarding the trails and the creek from human and environmental impacts, especially sudden oak death which is having a significant impact on the trees in the Bay Area.
Kimra McAfee, executive director of the Friends of Sausal Creek, has worked with Dodson for more than a year advising him and his team on trail restoration techniques and native plant identification.
"Having an urban wild lands is a wonderful advantage to the community," McAfee said. Dodson "dreamed of a map specific to the canyon. We are fortunate enough to have the volunteers that can help him," McAfee said.
The Friends of Sausal Creek has joined forces with the Dimond Improvement Association to launch the fundraising effort. The group has raised $1,500 and hope to raise $5,000, which will be used to consult a cartographer, print maps and produce educational signage at the trail heads.
Donations can be made to Dimond Improvement Association, dimondnews.org or Friends of Sausal Creek, sausalcreek.org, or at La Farine Bakery, 3411 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA, 94602.