OAKLAND -- It's going to be hard to pull off a "there's-nothing-to-do" complaint this summer. Luckily, the East Bay Regional Park District has come up with a wide variety of ways to have fun while learning something new about the rich natural heritage inherent in our parks.
From Crown Beach and Crab Cove in Alameda to Sibley Regional, Huckleberry Botanic Preserve, Lake Temescal, Roberts, Redwood Regional Park and Leona Canyon in the Oakland hills, choices abound for tykes through adults.
Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda has every weekend in July and August covered with Saturday and Sunday sessions of Family Nature Fun Hour and Fish Feeding Time, offering multiple ways to explore and learn about bay creatures. Sea Squirts, requiring registration, meets Aug. 6 and Aug. 20. Geared toward preschoolers, it's a great way to learn about slinky snakes, scat and animal smells. On Aug. 11 and Aug. 25, intertidal animal searches during low tide will reveal crabs, mussels, barnacles and shrimp.
A Sibley hike that's a Saturday Stroll will lead families through a secluded valley to Huckleberry on Saturday, and on Aug. 28 all ages and abilities are invited on another Sibley-to-Huckleberry Wednesday Walk.
On Aug. 27, young children and their parents are invited to join Hikes for Tykes, a 1-mile, flora-and-fauna exploration in huckleberry.
A naturalist table will be set up at Lake Temescal for Nature Fun and Meet the Snakes on Sunday, offering a chance to meet and touch a gopher snake and learn all about natural areas and local wildlife. On Aug. 14, Temescal will offer its own Hike for Tykes.
Roberts Regional offers an Introduction to Archery for 8 years and above in July and August and requires preregistration. It includes safety, shooting instruction and practice.
On Aug. 4, a Sunday Stroll combines some logging-lore with a 3.5-mile hike past the old Prince Mill site, a great activity for families and dogs. On Aug. 17, Redwood has two activities scheduled. First is a six-mile, three-park hike that goes from shady streams to grasslands, suitable for 10 years and older. A Canine Caper-Dog Walk is designed for exploring open spaces with canine friends with homemade doggy treats thrown in.
The park district relies a lot on volunteer help with restoration projects. Several sessions of French broom removal work parties will be held at both Redwood and Sibley park. The Redwood dates are Aug. 3 and Aug. 11; Sibley is on Aug. 18.
For more information on individual parks, activities, registration and costs, download the July-August Regional in Nature Activity Guide at http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/Features/RIN/RIN+July+-+August+2013.pdf.
For information on the park district: www.ebparks.org.