If you'd like to hit the trail over hill and dale, but not too far or too steep, the East Bay Regional Park District has produced two new brochures just for you.
"Short-Loop Trails: Easy Paths for Walking or Biking" is now available for the northern and southern regions of the two-county district.
Most of the trails described are a mile or two long, on flat or only gently hilly terrain. The scenic walks are perfect for seniors, people who use wheelchairs, parents with small children, or anyone who wants to start out easy, then work up to more strenuous expeditions.
The idea is to encourage people to enjoy healthy outdoor exercise with family and friends.
Wherever you live in the East Bay, one of these short-loop trails is bound to be close by. The northern brochure lists hikes at Martinez Regional Shoreline, Big Break in Oakley, Contra Loma in Antioch, Miller-Knox and Point Pinole in Richmond, Tilden Park in Berkeley, and Redwood Park in Oakland.
For the southern region, there are hikes at Brushy Peak in Livermore, Sunol Wilderness near Sunol, Lake Chabot in Castro Valley and Martin Luther King Shoreline in Oakland. And these are just a few of the options.
You can view and print the Easy Loop Trail descriptions and maps online at www.ebparks.org/activities/hiking/shortloopwalks. Or you can pick up a brochure at one of the park district visitor
As long as we're talking about hiking, the 2012 Trails Challenge is still going on.
The idea is to register at the park district website, receive a guide book, and hike any five of the listed trails or 26 miles by the end of the year to earn a commemorative pin.
As it happens, the district staff will lead one of the challenge hikes from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 21, at Diablo Foothills Regional Open Space in Walnut Creek.
This one is longer, 5 or 10 miles, best for ages 7 and up. There's no fee, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 29432.
Women on Common Ground is a series of naturalist-led programs for women who enjoy the outdoors but have concerns for their personal safety.
Next on the schedule is an easy moonlight stroll from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28, along Alhambra Creek at Martinez Regional Shoreline, led by naturalist Katie Colbert.
It's free, but reservations are required. Call 888-327-2757, select option 2, and refer to program 30028.
At Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, the Saturday evening campfire programs continue with a "Time Travelers" program from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21, hosted by naturalist Cat Taylor.
Noncampers are welcome; please park by the campground store. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Del Valle is located at the end of Del Valle Road off Mines Road, about nine miles south of Livermore. There's a parking fee of $6 per vehicle.
For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3249.
Naturalist Mike Moran continues his citizen-assisted raptor research with a hike from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, July 26, at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mount Diablo.
You can help him spot and count birds of prey, including eagles, hawks and falcons. No experience is needed; Mike will show you how to identify them.
The hike is free, but registration is required. Call 888-327-2757 and refer to program 30026.
How plants cope with heat is the topic of a nature walk from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21, at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, led by naturalist Bob Kanagaki.
The hike is free, designed for ages 7 and older. Meet at the uppermost parking lot on Somersville Road, five miles south of Highway 4.
For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
At the Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, naturalist aide Morgan Evans will host a kids' garden compost program from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 22.
Free of charge, it's a chance for kids and adults alike to learn some basics about composting.
For information, call Tilden's Environmental Education Center at 510-544-2233. The center is located at the north end of Central Park Drive.
Ned MacKay writes about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at email@example.com.