By BEVERLY LANE
Special to the Tribune
Although this winter’s storms brought a much-needed supply of water, they also unfortunately caused a lot of damage in the East Bay Regional Park District.
Probably the hardest hit was Del Valle Regional Park 10 miles south of Livermore. The park surrounds Lake Del Valle, a five-mile long reservoir that is part of the California State Water Project.
Winter storms resulted in a lot of runoff water into the lake, while releases from the dam had to be restricted to avoid damage downstream. As a result, lakeside facilities were flooded five times during the winter. These included the boating concession, picnic grounds, campsites and the Rocky Ridge Visitor Center. I toured the flooded lake and it was really weird to see the beaches and lines of trees under water.
Pending extensive cleanup and repair, the district has closed the main part of the park, which is reached via Del Valle Road off Mines Road. Tentative reopening date is April 15. The trailhead at the end of Arroyo Road is open now, but be advised that trails within the park may be very muddy and/or blocked by trees.
Other regional parks saw storm damage, too. To mention just a few:
At Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon, the paved road leading uphill that is the first leg of the Rocky Ridge View Trail was cut by a sizeable washout. Pedestrians could get past it, but not vehicles.
A large slide closed the Castle Rock Trail at the intersection with the Stage Road Trail in Diablo Foothills Regional Park near Walnut Creek.
Sections of the Stream Trail, Bridle Trail East Ridge Trail and Phillips Loop Trail, all at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, had to be closed due to mudslides and fallen trees.
And to reach Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mt. Diablo you must drive in on Morgan Territory Road from Livermore, because the road is damaged south of Clayton by a large slide.
Park visitors are likely to find other regional park trails closed or partially blocked by mudslides and fallen trees. For your own safety, please abide by any closure signs that you encounter while exploring the backcountry.
For up-to-date information on park and trail closures, visit the park district web site at www.ebparks.org. Click on “All Park & Trail Closure Information” under Notices at the top center of the home page.
The flip side of all the bad news is that this is likely to be an outstanding year for wildflowers. Early bloomers have already appeared in many regional parks: Indian warrior, shooting star, buttercups and blue dicks among others.
Best places to view wildflower displays in the regional parks include the Chaparral Loop Trail at Black Diamond Mines, Camp Arroyo Road and the Canyon View Trail at Sunol Regional Wilderness, and the Prairie Falcon Trail at Morgan Territory. The Cascade Trail at Anthony Chabot Regional Park is another good bet.
Park district naturalists often lead wildflower walks. And there will be a Spring Wildflower Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 9 at Sunol Regional Wilderness. Activities include wildflower hikes, arts and crafts, and live entertainment. The park is on Geary Road off Calaveras Road five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. There’s a $5 parking fee per vehicle; the festival is free of charge.
So don’t be discouraged. Despite all the storm damage, this spring is going to be especially beautiful in the East Bay Regional Parks. Don’t miss it.
Beverly Lane is the president of the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors.