By NED MacKAY
Special to the Tribune
Fungus in all its forms will be celebrated during the Tilden Fungal Fair, scheduled from 4:30-8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Environmental Education Center in Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.
Naturalist Trent Pearce and the Tilden Nature Area staff will preside at the free event. Visitors will be able to view local specimens, check through guidebooks and hear presentations on mushrooms and other fungi.
By the way, in the regional parks it’s illegal to collect and remove any plant, fungi or animal life. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints,” is the mantra.
The center is located at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. For information, call (510) 544-2233.
All the recent rains have swollen the streams in the regional parks. One of them is Pine Creek, which runs through Diablo Foothills Regional Park and Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area near Walnut Creek.
If you walk out the Stage Road Trail from the Castle Rock picnic grounds, there are four points at which it crosses Pine Creek on the way to the State Park boundary. The water isn’t deep, but it’s best to be careful. Rock hopping is slippery going; wet feet or worse can be the result.
If you’d like to explore Pine Creek with a naturalist, join Eddie Willis from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, to splash through it in search of aquatic life. Meet Eddie at the Orchard Staging Area near the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750 for information.
The scenic Castle Rocks themselves are within Mt. Diablo State Park; the creek is generally the boundary line. Note that the cliffs are completely off limits to hikers and climbers from Feb. 1 through July 31. This is so that birds, especially peregrine falcons, can nest and raise their young undisturbed. Please abide by the rules. Trespassing can result in citations and fines.
Another waterway where caution is advisable is Alameda Creek in Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County. The creek is running high and fast through the Little Yosemite gorge area, so don’t get too close to the rocky banks.
More energetic hikers ages 12 and up will enjoy a nine-mile ramble from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, led by naturalist Kevin Dixon.
Dixon will lead the group to the scenic and less visited east side of the park. Bring lunch and water, dress for the weather, and meet Kevin in the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. Black Diamond Mines has a $5 parking fee when the kiosk is staffed. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley will celebrate Chinese New Year with a program from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. Naturalist Morgan Evans will recount the history of Chinese laborers in the Delta, and the celebration will include a dragon parade.
“Xin Nian Kuai Le!” which means Happy New Year in Mandarin.
That’s not all. There’s a flat, one-mile, levee-top stroll at Big Break from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, to view the plants and wildlife. And naturalist Nichole Gange will lead a stargazing program from 6-7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29. Bring blankets and dress warmly for that one.
Big Break is on Big Break Road off Main Street. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.
Whale remains, shipwrecks and wildlife will be the attractions on a hike from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29 through Coyote Hills Regional Park and Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont.
Naturalist Francis Mendoza will lead the relatively flat, six-mile trek along former salt pond levees. It’s for ages 15 and older.
Bring sturdy shoes, water and a snack, and meet at Coyote Hills’ Quarry staging area parking lot.
Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call (510) 544-3220.
With all the recent rains, it’s best to check on trail conditions before going out to hike or ride in the regional parks. You can do so by visiting http://www.ebparks.org/closure.