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Hiking with your Valentine

low tide at Crab Cove
low tide at Crab Cove
Susan Alcorn

You’re looking for somewhere romantic to go with your Valentine and you both love the outdoors? Try one of these special walks on (or near) the 14th.

Crown Memorial State Beach, Alameda. Last fall, 82,600 cubic yards of sand were dumped on Crown State Beach and Alameda Beach to restore the beach and dunes to the size it was in 1987. Check out the Crab Cove Visitor's Center (check hours) and walk along the beach and mark your sweetheart’s and your initials in the firmly packed sand. (Click here to see a video of the sand pumping project.)

Address: Eighth Street and Otis Drive, Alameda, CA. 510-544-3175 or Toll Free: 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757), option 3, extension 4522.

Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve, between Tiburon and Corte Madera. There are many unofficial trails, but unless you are familiar with them, start from the trailhead on Paradise Drive and follow the Phyllis Ellman (she led the fight to save this area from development) Loop Trail to the top. Approx. 2 mile loop. Moderate with a few rocky sections (can also have muddy spots after rain).

Windswept with outstanding views of Mount Diablo, San Francisco, and all around the bay, this preserve is a gem. Its serpentine soils support a variety of wildflowers including the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, which is unique to this site. When you reach the high point, Ring Mountain, you’ll find Petroglyph Rock, which was marked by native Miwoks (but which has also been vandalized.). Driving directions, click here. This might be a good place to treat your paramour to a chocolate bonbon.

Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley hills. Combine a hike to Vollmer Peak with a ride on the narrow gauge steam trains. Take a short loop hike from the parking lot for the steam trains. Start out on Vollmer Peak Trail and head toward the Lupine trail, which circles around and becomes the other side of the Vollmer Trail. You can extend this walk by doing a larger loop on the Big Springs Trail to Seaview Trail and then returning on the Skyline National Trail/Bay Area Ridge Trail. Moderate hikes, with some steep sections, varying from about 1-1/2 miles to 5 miles. Water and toilets available near the steam trains. Be sure to bring a map, click here.

The Redwood Valley Railway is a delightful place for kids and for adults who like to occasionally feel like kids. The ride is loop along 1.25 miles of track and passes through brush and Redwood trees with some views of the bay and a couple of passes through a short, dark tunnel. The trains run weekends year round from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Or Dusk), weather permitting; they also run on some holidays. Tickets range from $3 for a single ride to $12 for a five- ride ticket. Order with credit cards online here. Directions, here. Pack a picnic lunch and include a love note for your Valentine.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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