OAKLAND -- Joaquin Miller Park's Palos Colorados trail has escaped permanent closure because of erosion, thanks to the efforts of Stan Dodson, community activist and board member of Friends of Joaquin Miller Park.

The Palos Colorados trail is a wooded trail that runs parallel to the Palo Seco Creek, from Mountain Boulevard winding north through Joaquin Miller Park. The trail also connects Dimond Canyon to Joaquin Miller Park.

"It's a hidden gem. It's a regional attraction," Dodson said. "It's not terrible, but it could be better. So why not make it better?"

A foot-and-a-half of rock was blasted by contractors, who transported their equipment by hand along a three-quarter-mile trail as narrow as 18 inches in some places. The work was completed at the beginning of October.

Stan Dodson, community activist and board member of the Friends of JoaquinMiller Park stands near an rock blasted to widen the Palos Colorados hikingtrail.
Stan Dodson, community activist and board member of the Friends of Joaquin Miller Park stands near an rock blasted to widen the Palos Colorados hiking trail.

A total of $5,000 was raised to restore the trail, and it took 10 days to raise the money by asking for donations from Dimond and Glenview listservs, the Friends of Sausal Creek, and the Friends of Joaquin Miller Park. The majority of trail maintenance is done by volunteers, Dodson said.

Other park improvements in the past year have included the rerouting of Cinderella trail, a favorite trail for mountain bikers, bypassing a straight downhill shoot that ended at the Sunset trail and creating a dangerous situation between bikers and hikers.

The half-mile reroute was completed over a weekend by a volunteer effort of the Volunteers for Outdoors California, which brought about 130 volunteers to complete most of the work on July 19-21.

"This (the project) was interesting because it involved going cross-country on a very steep, heavily vegetated trail," said Morris Older, the project coordinator. "I wasn't sure that they could build a trail there. There is nothing like creating something from scratch. It shows what the power of 100 volunteers can accomplish. It's powerful."

Bike Trail Council of the East Bay has also volunteered in the park this year. Joaquin Miller Park is one of the few in the area that allows mountain bikes, according to Brent Englund, the council's president.

"This is one of our favorite parks. There are a lot of people very excited to work on the trail," Englund said.

The group rerouted a portion of the Sunset trail where erosion had brought the trail dangerously close to the Palo Seco Creek near the trails intersection with the Sequoia-Bayview Trail.

The project took 700 volunteer hours, spread over a couple of months, said Englund.

The council plans to keep trails in good shape through the winter months.

"The city doesn't have any money or anyone out there that can do trail work, without volunteers," Englund said.

Dodson's next wish is to create a half-mile connector between the Sunset and Palos Colorados trails.

Sunset trail currently ends at Castle Drive. The trail is 1,000 feet above the Palos Colorados trail.

Dodson proposes a half-mile connector to join the two trails, creating a loop.

"I feel like so many people are missing out," Dodson said. "This part of the park is underserved by trails. It would take this little thing to connect the dots.

"Trails through the woods are kind of like my church. I can clear my head. I value the trails a great deal. It's one of the things in Oakland that's awesome," Dodson continued. "It needs to be promoted. But it needs to be in good shape. It needs to be maintained. It needs a vision to add to its value. This can be achieved with a half-mile connector."

---