It's estimated the East Bay Regional Parks receive 25 million visitors annually. This doesn't mean 25 million different people; it includes visitors who return frequently.

The figure is derived from estimates by park supervisors, gate receipts from parks with entrance kiosks and enrollment figures from programs and facilities requiring reservations. Knowing how many people visit the parks is important to district staff for park operation and maintenance. In some areas the district has gone high-tech in an effort to obtain a more accurate count. One example is in central Contra Costa County, where nine infrared counters have been set up on the regional trail network.

The counters are deployed along the Iron Horse, Contra Costa Canal and Lafayette/Moraga trails and on California hiking and riding and Briones to Mount Diablo regional trails. Rangers download the accumulated information monthly. Counting passing traffic in 2013, they totaled 1.5 million visitor trips. It confirms the belief that the multiuse interpark trails are among the district's most popular venues.

OUTDOOR RECREATION: Healthy Parks Healthy People Bay Area is a partnership of the Institute of the Golden Gate, the park district and Golden Gate National Recreation Area to promote regular outdoor recreation in the parks as a path to good health. As part of the program, the park district offers monthly outdoor activities for people of all ages and abilities. Here are three of them, all this Saturday:


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  • Celebrate the state park system's 150th anniversary with a 2-mile backwoods ramble through the urban wilds of Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton from 9 to 11 a.m. Meet naturalist Cat Taylor at the last parking lot near the Lake Trail. Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard just east of Valley Avenue.

  • Or take an easy stroll along the shoreline at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary. It's from 10 to 11 a.m., led by naturalist Francis Mendoza. Meet at the intersection of Park Street and Shoreline Drive. For details, call 510-544-3187.

  • For a Healthy Heart Hike, join naturalist Kristina Parkison for a stroll from 1 to 3 p.m. at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. This one is for ages 10 and older. Meet at the visitor center at the end of Patterson Ranch Road. For information, call 510-544-3220.

    what's in the water: Fishing games are on the agenda from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Learn how to identify the different species that live in the Delta.

    Then, from 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday, naturalist Kevin Damstra will talk about what a delta is, and how ours is different from others. Big Break is on Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. For details, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

    All these programs are free and don't require reservations. Parking fees may apply. For details on all park district programs and to make reservations online, visit the park district's website, www.ebparks.org.

    CRAB COVE: Continuing the theme of something for all ages, the Family Fun Nature Hour at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda will showcase sharks from 2 to 3 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

    Story Time and Nature Fun is from 11 to 11:30 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday in February. Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue in Alameda. For information, call 510-544-3187.

    Tyke hike: Hikes for Tykes is designed for young children accompanied by a parent. Naturalist Sara Fetterly will lead a 1-mile tyke hike from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Lake Temescal in Oakland. Meet Sara at the south entrance off Broadway Terrace in Oakland.

    BERKELEY: For hikers 55 and older, there's the Over-The-Hills-Gang. Naturalist James Wilson will lead the gang on an exploration of Berkeley Meadow at East Shore State Park from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Meet at the Seabreeze Market parking lot on University Avenue just west of the Interstate 80 overcrossing in Berkeley.

    And how about Yoga for Kids? Youngsters 6 and older accompanied by a parent can try some kid-friendly, nature-themed yoga in a program from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, led by interpretive student aide Morgan Rani Evans. Meet at the Environmental Education Center. To get there, park at the end of Lone Oak Road off Tilden's Central Park Drive, then follow the signs. For information, call 510-544-2233.

    FOSSILS AND FROGS: Fossils and frogs will be the quarry during a walk along and in Pine Creek at Diablo Foothills Regional Park in Walnut Creek, led by naturalist Eddie Willis. Meet Eddie at 1 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek. The hike is for ages 6 and older. For details, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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