As we settle in for what looks to be a long, hot summer, there are places within the East Bay Regional Parks where you can still beat the heat.
The park district's swim areas are an obvious choice. The district has swim beaches with lifeguard service at eight regional parks: Lake Anza at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, Lake Temescal in Oakland, Cull Canyon in Castro Valley, Don Castro in Hayward, Quarry Lakes in Fremont, Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton, Del Valle south of Livermore and Contra Loma in Antioch.
And there are swimming pools with lifeguard service at three regional parks: Roberts in Oakland, Castle Rock in Walnut Creek and Little Hills in San Ramon.
In addition, you can swim at two main beaches at regional shorelines on San Francisco Bay: Crown Beach in Alameda, and Keller Cove at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Point Richmond. No lifeguards are on duty at these beaches, so you swim at your own risk.
Fees and hours of operation vary. There's more detailed information at the park district website, www.ebparks.org. Click on "activities" at the left side of the home page, click again on "swimming," then a third time on "swim facilities."
If you want to cool off without getting wet, I can suggest several possibilities. Point Pinole in Richmond is a great park for hot weather hiking because it has the cooling breezes from San Pablo Bay and lots of shady eucalyptus groves.
Another good bet is Kennedy Grove, located on San Pablo Dam Road between Orinda and El Sobrante, below the reservoir's dam. The park has lots of picnic tables surrounding a large turf grass area in a grove of eucalyptus trees. For the more energetic, there's a loop hike up to a ridge top, but part of that trail is steep and hot in the summer.
Or you could visit Redwood or Roberts Regional Parks in Oakland, where groves of beautiful second-growth redwood trees provide shade. Roberts' entrance is on Skyline Boulevard about a mile up the hill from the intersection with Joaquin Miller Road. Redwood's entrance is on Redwood Road, about two miles east of the intersection with Skyline Boulevard. At Redwood Park, take the Stream Trail for a nice flat stroll through the trees.
Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area is located at the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek, a mile or two past Northgate High School. Besides the pool, picnic grounds and ball field, there's a scenic walk up Pine Canyon past the Castle Rocks. It's mostly in the shade.
It gets very hot in the summer at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. But you can cool off underground at the park's Greathouse Visitor Center, where all ages are welcome, or on a tour at the Hazel-Atlas silica mine, where visitors must be 7 or older. Underground, the temperature is always in the 50s.
More information on these parks and others, including downloadable maps, is available at the district's website.
Tilden Hike: Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will beat the heat with a free early hike from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley. Her destination is Wildcat Peak and perhaps beyond. Meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center at the north end of Central Park Drive. Bring water and a breakfast snack to share. For more information, call 510-544-2233.
Have a blast: The explosive past of Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond is the theme of a dynamite history walk from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday led by Tilden's supervising naturalist, Dave Zuckermann. It's a free, easy, three-mile walk to some historic sites within the park. For information, call 510-544-2233.
Shape shifters: Vertumnus was the Roman god of seasons and plant growth who could change his appearance at will. Naturalist Bob Kanagaki will evoke Vertumnus during a walk from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, to see how the park's flora and fauna have responded to summer weather.
The free hike is designed for ages 7 and older. Meet at the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, four miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Antioch program: Fish will be featured in a "Nature's Afternoon" program from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch, led by naturalist Kevin Damstra. The program is designed for kids ages 5 through 12.
Contra Loma is located on Frederickson Lane off Golf Course Road. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Kevin's program is free. For more information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Livermore walk: The Wednesday Walkers, the informal hiking group led by naturalist Chris Garcia, will explore Brushy Peak Regional Preserve near Livermore on a hike starting at 9:30 a.m. June 27.
This one is a moderate-to-strenuous 4.5-mile loop. The payoff is a panoramic view of the Livermore Valley, plus the chance of seeing birds of prey including golden eagles. I've occasionally seen the eagles when I've hiked there.
The free hike will meet at the staging area at the end of Laughlin Road. To get there from Interstate 580, exit to northbound Vasco Road. Turn right immediately on Northfront Road. In one mile, turn left on Laughlin Road and drive two miles to the park. For information, call 510-544-3282.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.