All things Western will be on parade at the Cowboy Hootenanny Folk Festival at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
It's a celebration of Sunol's pioneer and ranching history with family-friendly activities including pony rides, branding and roping demonstrations, stick pony and other crafts, Dutch oven cooking, hand-squeezed lemonade and pioneer games. Gordy Ohlinger, the Banjo-ologist, will perform with vintage banjos. Jimmy Chickenpants will play for square dancing. The Diablo Mountain Cloggers and the Clogging Express Team will perform and give lessons. "Ranch Dressing" will feature old-time clothing fashions, which the kids can try on.
Sunol Regional Wilderness is located at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road about 5 miles south of Interstate 680. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Festival entry is free. For information call 510-544-3249.
Mountain lions: Speaking of Sunol, a major, long-term mountain lion research project is under way in the park and beyond. The 10-year goal is to collar and obtain data on the activities of as many East Bay mountain lions as possible.
As the first step, a network of motion-activated cameras has been placed in the Sunol-Ohlone Wilderness, which has a relatively low human population. Next, teams of researchers will begin tracking and capturing the pumas and fitting them with GPS collars to track their movements and activities.
It is hoped that the study will help determine how many lions there are in the East Bay, what their population's viability is in a human-altered environment, how they are moving around and avoiding park visitors and how much they prey on livestock. Study results will help with education, conservation and wildlife management.
Partners in the study are the East Bay Regional Park District, the Regional Parks Foundation, Chevron, Felidae Conservation Fund, UC Berkeley, the California Fish & Wildlife Department, National Geographic, the National Park Service and the Oakland Zoo.
TILDEN: The Environmental Education Center at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley will host a special exhibit in November and December, featuring work by members of the Guild of Natural Science Educators depicting plants and animals of the East Bay Regional Parks.
You can meet the artists in person at a free reception from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1. Light refreshments will be served.
The exhibit will be open weekends only, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Because of ongoing construction work at the center and Little Farm, the usual access from the north end of Central Park Drive is closed. The best way to get there is to park at the end of Lone Oak Road off Central Park Drive. From there, signs will direct pedestrians to the center. For more information, call 510-544-2233.
By the way, there are some interesting weekend programs at the center from which to choose:
From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, interpretive student aide Tricia Radis will show how to make a sturdy, stylish bowl using glue guns and magazines. It's for ages 9 and older; bring your own magazines.
And November is mushroom month for naturalist Trent Pearce and the center staff. There's a mushroom-themed program from 2 to 4 p.m. every Sunday. This Sunday, he'll give a talk about common Bay Area mushrooms, followed by a short walk. Remember that Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, so you should turn your clock back an hour the night before.
Fireside story time at the center will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and Nov. 17 and from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Cozy up to the center's fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and hear some nature lore.
You'll come clean after another program, led by naturalist Trail Gail Broesder. It's about making felted soap -- using natural, undyed wool to create bath soap with a built-in washcloth. The felt shrinks with the bar and afterward can be used as a pouch.
The soap program is from 9:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 9. It's designed for ages 10 and older, there's a fee of $6 per person ($8 for nondistrict residents) and registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 4057.
DIABLO FOOTHILLS: Autumn colors and towering sandstone cliffs are the attractions along the way on a strenuous 7-mile hike from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Diablo Foothills Regional Park in Walnut Creek, led by naturalist Eddie Willis. It's for ages 10 and older, and it's canceled if there's rain. Remember about the end of Daylight Saving Time. Meet at the staging area at the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek, out past Northgate High School. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.