The East Bay Regional Park District kicks off its series of fall events with the annual Garin Apple Festival, which takes place this year from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Garin Regional Park in Hayward.

The festival celebrates Hayward's farming and ranching past, especially showcasing the park's antique apple orchard. Maintained by a dedicated crew of volunteers, the orchard contains 160 varieties of apples, some of which grow nowhere else.

Besides tours of the orchard, festival activities will include hand-cranking ice cream, pressing apples into cider, dancing to live music, crafts and old-fashioned games. It's a really family-friendly event.

Garin Regional Park is located at the end of Garin Avenue off Mission Boulevard. The festival is free of charge; there's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3220.

Fremont: At Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, the naturalist staff conducts frequent tours of a reconstructed 2,000-year-old Ohlone Indian village site. It's a half-mile walk through a marsh to see a shade structure, pit house and sweat lodge. There will be two excursions to the site Sunday: one from 10 a.m. to noon and the other from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Along the way the naturalists will talk about Ohlone cultures from past to present.

There are also two Ohlone skills workshops planned at Coyote Hills on Sept. 28, both led by naturalist Dino Labiste.


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Fire making is on the agenda from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ancient techniques for fire making included friction, percussion and compression. Dino will demonstrate them all, and you can try your hand at it, too. It's a lot harder than it looks. Registration is required, and the program is for ages 16 and older.

Then from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Dino will teach participants how to gather natural materials, then twist and braid them into cordage. This program is for ages 9 and older; registration is required.

Both programs are free, though registration is required. For information and registration, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2. For fire making, refer to program 6855. For cordage, the number is 6856. Coyote Hills is located at 8000 Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

Alameda: Sharks will be the stars of the Family Nature Fun hour from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. There are lots of sharks in San Francisco Bay, and a few in Crab Cove's aquarium as well. You can watch the center staff feed the aquarium fish from 3 to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. The visitor center is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue in Alameda. Admission is free. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Crab Cove's mobile visitor center and naturalist staff will participate in the Neptune Beach Community Celebration, which will be on Webster Street between Pacific and Central Avenues in Alameda from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Berkeley: At Tilden Nature Area next to Berkeley, naturalist Anthony Fisher will lead a nature exploration trek from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday. The plan is to step out with all senses on alert to detect nature in action. Whatever is seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted will become the focus of the program. Meet Anthony at Tilden's Environmental Education Center. It's at the north end of Central Park Drive.

Anthony's also leading a hike from 4 to 8 p.m. the same day at Briones Regional Park. This one is designed for photographers. Bring your camera and tripod to record evening light on the hills and whatever else is photogenic -- maybe even some twilight wildlife. Meet Anthony at the Bear Creek Staging Area on Bear Creek Road about 5 miles east of San Pablo Dam Road in Orinda.

And there's more. Anthony leads a bird watching walk from 9 a.m. to noon Monday at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Point Richmond. It's one of a whole series of Monday bird walks in various regional parks through September and October. All three of Anthony's programs are free. For more information, call 510-544-2233.

Antioch: Tours of the Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch take place at various times on Saturdays and Sundays through November. The 90-minute tours feature mining history and geologic features exposed within the mining tunnels.

Tours cost $5 per person and are open to ages 7 and older. Tickets may be purchased at the park's underground Greathouse Visitor Center or through advance reservation by calling 888-327-2757, option 2. Greathouse Visitor Center is open free of charge from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends through November. It has displays of photos and artifacts from the park's coal and sand mining eras.

Black Diamond Mines is at the end of Somersville Road, 5 miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is staffed. Detours are necessary to access the park, because of construction on Somersville Road outside park boundaries. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

Oakley: Mammals of the Delta will be the theme of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. The interpretive staff will talk about beavers, muskrats, river otters and other animals that inhabit the inland waterway and how they have adapted to their environment.

Big Break has hands-on arts and crafts programs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. You can also help park staff test the Delta water from 9 to 10 a.m. every weekend day. Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. Parking and the programs are all free of charge. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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