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Spring Picnics Extra

Check out a list of great picnic hikes and a rundown of East Bay farmers' markets.



Five Great Picnic Hikes, as recommended by Shelly Lewis from the East Bay Regional Parks District

► Briones Regional Park, Bear Creek Staging Area, Orinda
At the park entrance on the south side of Bear Creek Road is Newt Hollow Picnic Area, a perfect picnic site and the entrance to Bear Creek Trail, a one-mile rolling trail along a seasonal creek.

Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area, Diablo Foothills, Walnut Creek
This secret picnic site is just beautiful. From the parking lot off of Castle Rock Road, take the paved trail to the dirt trail called Stage Road Trail. It follows a beautiful seasonal creek with many crossings and sandstone rock sculptures. Fairly easy and flat, this is also an amazing wildflower hike in March and April. In less than one mile, you’ll come to the entrance to Mt. Diablo State Park and a beautiful forest with several picnic tables.

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, Bollinger Creek Loop Trail, San Ramon
At the parking lot off Bollinger Canyon Road, the Bollinger Creek Loop Trail is a fun 1½-mile loop through woods, across a small wooden bridge, and back through rolling grassland with picnic tables in a shady grove.

Black Diamond Mines, Chapparal Loop Trail, Antioch
From the parking lot off Somersville Road, take the Chapparal Loop Trail—a short hike with beautiful wildflowers and unique rock formations that passes by remnants of 1800s mining life, including Hazel Atlas Mine Portal. On weekends, the park offers tours of the mine and there is a lovely picnic area nearby.

Iron Horse Regional Trail, Hap Magee Ranch, Danville
Walk or bike north 1.5 miles through shade trees from the Railroad Museum at Prospect Avenue to Camille Avenue. Turn north for a quarter mile and cross the bridge to Hap Magee Ranch for a perfect picnic site.


East Bay Farmers' Markets

Here's a guide to some of the farmers markets sprinkled throughout the East Bay.
by Jonathan Roisman

Saturday, 10 AM to 3 PM: Center Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Tuesday, 2 PM to 7 PM: Derby Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Thursday, 3 PM to 7 PM: Shattuck Avenue at Rose Street

Berkeley offers shoppers a lot of variety when they want to get their fresh produce. Food on Thursday’s is all-organic, and vendors offering Thai food, fresh coffee beans, and fresh-baked bread are available year round. Sponsored by the Ecology Center, Berkeley’s farmers markets not only sell fresh food, but also offer education to customers regarding sustainable farming practices and how to support local farmers.

Maple Street between 1st and 2nd
Saturday, 8 AM to 12PM

The mayor will cut the opening ribbon on April 2, followed with live music and live cooking demonstrations. The following Saturday features a local juggler, and on April 16 you’ll have the opportunity to have your face painted by a clown.

Diablo Street, between Main and Center in Downtown Clayton
Saturday, 8 AM to 12 PM

Peaches, plums, and nectarines will start to make their way into the market when it opens on May 7. Live music will be performed every weekend, and there’ll be contests nearly every week in May with the chance to win prizes such as a Skipolini’s Pizza gift card and a BBQ grilling set for Fathers’ Day.

Todos Santos Park, Willow Pass & Grant Street
Tuesday, 10 AM to 2 PM
Thursday, 4 PM to 8 PM

The market is open year-round on Tuesday’s and from the end of April to the October on Thursday’s, so you’ll get the opportunity to shop here twice a week, if you wish. There’s live music every Tuesday, and don’t forget to try the abundant source of Afghan, Indian, Mexican, and Japanese sold there. Fresh pies and pastries are available, which should you give you the energy boost to help you explore the expansive market.

Railroad & Prospect Avenues
Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM

Besides finding the freshest fruit and vegetables in the area here, you’ll also see plenty of fresh cut flowers and bedding plants to choose from, as well as delicious fresh breads and other food. It’s open no matter what the weather conditions are, so don’t worry about getting rained out. Enjoy the live music here every weekend, as well. Experts will be there on April 23 to help answer your gardening questions, and on May 14 you can learn how new techniques to make your home and garden more “green.”

Oakland, Jack London Square Farmers’ Market
Webster & Water Street
Sunday, 9 AM to 2 PM

One of the Bay Area’s busiest markets, Jack London Square is treasure-trove for shoppers looking for more than just fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of different fresh baked breads and pastries available, as well as beautiful flowers and specialty foods among the many vendors who occupy the square. You can enjoy a nice picnic on the waterfront, with plenty of fresh lunch supplies at your fingertips. There are free yoga classes in the morning, and a jump house for the kids all-day long. Oh, and how could we forget the live music that permeates the square for over two hours every Sunday?

Main & W. Angela Street
Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM

Live music, kettle corn, and fresh fruits and vegetables are the staples here. Open year-round, rain or shine, this market is bustling and full of plenty of things to buy.

Pleasant Hill
Crescent Drive
Saturday, 8 AM to 12 PM

The market kicks off a little later here, but things get into full gear quickly, with a ribbon cutting by local dignitaries and College Park High School cheerleaders on May 7. There’ll be face painting, and you can enter to win a basket full of fresh produce. May 14 features live cooking demonstrations and a free tasting. Cherries and apricots also start to make an appearance in May, so stop on by.

San Ramon
Bishop Ranch
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (starting May 7)

Formerly located at Forest Home Farms, this market has relocated to Bishop Ranch and is now open year-round every Saturday. It'll feature a wide range of produce form such local purveyor as Happy Boy Farms, Dirty Girl Produce and Lone Oak Ranch and artisan products including homemade pasta from Phoenix Pasticifo and Il Pastio; fresh seafood from The Sea to You in Santa Cruz, and award winning Spanish olive oils from Berkeley Olive Grove.

Walnut Creek
Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market
1425 South Main Street
Tuesday, 10 AM to 2 PM

When you’re not checking out all of the fresh produce at other markets on Saturday’s, swing by Walnut Creek to hear live music and to see a fine selection of fruits, vegetables, and other food. The market is open year round, rain or shine, so this is a good bet on a weekday. Enjoy your lunch off from work under the shade of a big oak tree.

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