Dracena Park, Oakland

Because I’m dropping one of my kids off at a summer program in Oakland this week, I decided to take the dogs in the car, to explore somewhere new to walk. Today, I settled on Dracena Park, an old quarry in lovely Piedmont that now has a very short off-leash trail, a few redwood trees, and a nice vibe for a small park.

This short bridge links the two street-level side trails that border the deeper quarry trail.

In the photo above, you might assume we were deep in the woods. Not at all. A few yards to either side of this trail — and a ways up — you would be stepping out into traffic and looking at some big old Piedmont homes. Because of the proximity of that traffic, I didn’t let the dogs off leash even though signs said it was allowed. Actually, there was another reason, too: The signs said I had to have an off-leash permit to do so. I never heard of an off-leash permit. I guess that’s a City of Oakland thing?

I might have been tempted to off leash anyway, but Animal Control was actually at the park at the same time that I was. They were there to deal with a Bernese mountain dog that someone had left tied to a tree. I have no idea how long the poor dog had been there and if it was truly abandoned or if its owner just had to step away for a few minutes, but watching the officers try to approach the dog provided a bit of entertainment for me and the only other group of morning walkers there.

According to the Oakland Geology blog, the low trail I walked along was once a stream, while the playground area was the actual quarry, which stone for Oakland’s first streets.

Surpringly, that was the only other dog I saw on my visit, which was at about 9 to 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. Besides the walkers, the other park users were moms with tiny children. The kids were having a good time both on the play structure and running through the thin trees near the playground, kicking up newly-laid mulch.

I really enjoyed our brief morning visit, but I wouldn’t try this park in the middle of the day. Why? Most of the street parking near the park has signs warning that only people with residential permits can park there. There is one dead-end street leading to the park entrance where visitors can park, on one side only. There were plenty of spots here at 9 a.m., but I can only imagine that in the middle of the day or on a weekend, these would be full and you’d have to park somewhere else, probably blocks away, and walk in.

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