Quarry-Big Springs-Sea View (5.1 miles)
Ah, Tilden. We used to be close, Sea View and I. Whenever I had someone come into town, we hiked Sea View. Whenever I wondered "hmm...where should we go hiking?" it was this trail. Tilden, the jewel of the East Bay Regional Park System. Tilden, the backdrop for countless pictures atop the Sea View Trail. After visiting the REI annual sale today and making my entry into running geekdom official by purchasing a Garmin 305, I thought what better way to initiate my new gadget than by returning to this site of so many memories. We would be reunited, Tilden and I, and it would all be captured on my new toy.
Now I do not want to disparage Tilden, because it is a wonderful park. There are many more things to do (particularly for families with kids) than there are in say, Wildcat or Redwood. There are pony rides, a carousel, the Botanic Gardens, animal petting at the Little Farm, swimming at Lake Anza and many, many picnic options. But returning to Sea View trail was like seeing a picture of some guy you had a crush on in high school and thinking, "Really? I was all excited about him? I mean, he's all riiight, but really-- what was that all about? There's much better options out there." I can hear the wave of protest swelling-- Tilden is Bay Area history (which it is) and it's tradition (which it is)-- this is blasphemy, what you are saying!
Here's the thing: I've been running a lot of different trails since then, and guess what? I'd recommend them over Tilden. Part of it was probably the weather (rather unimpressive, as you can see from the picture), but it doesn't have the views of Wildcat's San Pablo Ridge trail, even on a clear day, and it doesn't have the dreamy forest quality of Redwood. There are lots of Eucalyptus groves, and several stands of pine trees along Big Springs trail, yet overall I was not as excited as I hoped to be. I'll come back and do some more trails, as this is one of the most popular parks of the East Bay, but if I had one day to do a trail run in the East Bay, I'd go north to Wildcat or south to Redwood.
Two of the three members of our running crew today did not care about my disappointment with Tilden and found it to be an enthralling location, as Tilden is yet another place to take dogs off-leash in undeveloped areas. So if you need places to run your pup, keep it on the rotation-- just make sure Tilden isn't your ONLY rotation for trail running in the Bay Area...