Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch will begin its 2013 mine tour season with a free open house at the underground mining museum from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Visitors will be able to explore about 1,000 feet of restored workings in the former Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine, with park staff posted along the way to point out interesting features. For safety reasons, the self-guided tours are restricted to ages 7 and older. For younger children, there's a chamber just inside the mine entrance with displays and activities related to the park's mining history.
After open house day, 90-minute guided mine tours will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays through November. Advanced reservation tours are scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends. A 10 a.m. tour is available to groups of 10 or more. First-come-first-served tours are at noon and 3 p.m. Again, participants must be 7 or older. Tour tickets cost $5 per person. Reservations can be made online at www.ebparks.org, or at the park office. For the 10 a.m. group tours, though, call 888-327-2757, option 2.
Another way to see the mines is the underground Greathouse Visitor Center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends through November. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome. The center contains artifacts and photos from the park's coal and silica mining days. Above ground, naturalist Eddie Willis will lead a safari to see amphibian denizens of Black Diamond Mines' stock ponds. It's from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday and will take place rain or shine. Meet Eddie in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 5 miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch.
And naturalist Bob Kanagaki will host a program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. March 9 about the park's mining boom times, featuring a slide show and a look at the mine. The program is restricted to ages 7 and older. It's free, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757, option 2, and refer to program number 1441. Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. For general information about the park, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
BIRDS, BIRDS: Beginning and experienced birders alike can enjoy a bird walk from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, led by naturalist Kristina Parkison. The bird walk designed for ages 8 and older is free, and registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 1466.
FOR KIDS: Outdoor Discoveries is a nature program designed for children ages 3 through 5 accompanied by a parent. Naturalists Katie Colbert and Cat Taylor preside. There's a program with a geology theme from 10 a.m. to noon March 7 at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore. The fee is $6 per child ($8 for nondistrict residents), and registration is required. Call 888-327-2757, option 2, and refer to program 1673.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at email@example.com.