Mayday means fun for all the family at the Environmental Education Center at Tilden Nature Area in the Berkeley hills, where a full day of festivities is planned for May 5.
From 10 to 11:30 a.m., naturalist James Wilson will coordinate activities including maypoles, bubble making, and crafts. The Berkeley Morris Dancers will perform traditional May dances. From 2 to 3 p.m. May flowers will be the focus, as interpretive student aide Morgan Rani Evans talks about flower families and their parts, using microscopes to view their miniature world.
The grand finale is flower crowns and maypole dancing from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., again hosted by James Wilson. The center also is showcasing an exhibit by the Golden Gate Weavers Guild, featuring fabrics made from both traditional and unusual fibers: silk, cotton, wool and even recycled plastic bags.
The crafts will be on display from now through Aug. 25. Center hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. And you can meet the artists themselves during a reception from noon to 2 p.m. May 5. Under their guidance, you can try your hand at weaving your own souvenir to take home. All the activities are free of charge. The center is located at the north end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.
Pleasanton Ridge: Word is out now about the East Bay Regional Park District's shuttle bus trial program at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, and available spaces are being quickly reserved.
Shuttle bus runs have been scheduled for a total of 12 dates, of which the first four are being advertised through the park district's Regional in Nature Activity Guide: Saturday, May 15, June 1 and June 19.
After that, the program will operate twice monthly through the end of October. If it is deemed a success, more dates may be set in the future. Pleasanton Ridge is a long, skinny park with only two or three public access points. So the idea of the shuttle is to make more of the park available for people who would like to explore it but lack the ability for long, steep hikes. Here's some more information on the shuttle setup:
The shuttle van can take seven passengers, by advance reservation only. The fee is $10 per person ($12 for nondistrict residents). The pickup point is the park's Foothill Staging Area on Foothill Road north of Sunol.
Riders can choose between three departure times on each date: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. or noon. From the staging area the shuttle leaves the park, heads north on Foothill Road, then re-enters the park on a gated easement road.
The first drop-off is on the Bay Leaf Trail. The second drop is at North Ridge Trail and Sinbad Creek. From there the van exits the west side of the park and returns to Foothill via Interstate 580. The idea is to have as little impact as possible on other park users.
The shuttle service is for hikers only. No dogs or bicycles can be accommodated in the van, and rain will cancel. It's also a one-way service. By picking their drop-off point, passengers can opt for a 43/4- or 9¼-mile return hike. The van will not be available for rides back to the start. So passengers should have water, food and sturdy hiking shoes. Those interested in taking one of the shuttle's trial runs should call the park district reservations department at 888-327-2757.
CRAB COVE: Family nature fun is the theme of ongoing programs at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. There's something to see and do from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in May, June and beyond, led by the naturalist staff.
On May 4, 5 and on May 18-19 and June 1-2 it's low-tide exploration time. Pond exploration will be on May 11-12. Crab Cove is located at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue in Alameda. The programs are free of charge. For information, call 510-544-3187. And circle June 1 on your calendar for Crab Cove's annual sand castle and sculpture competition. It's lots of fun -- more on that in a future column.
BIG BREAK: The visitor center at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley schedules all kinds of free, family-friendly games, activities and nature explorations from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday and 2 to 3 p.m. Sundays. And you can help the center staff keep track of Delta water quality through scientific testing from 9 to 10 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Big Break Visitor Center is located on Big Break Road off Highway 4. For more information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050, or email BigBreakVisit@ebparks.org.
MOM'S DAY: We all know that May 12 is Mother's Day. At Sunol Regional Wilderness it's also Mother Nature's Day.
From 1 to 2:30 p.m. that day, you can bring your favorite adults to celebrate both mothers with a walk on the Indian Joe Trail, followed by gift making and refreshments at the park's Old Green Barn visitor center. Interpretive student aide Nancy Ceridwyn will preside.
The event is free of charge, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 2466. Sunol is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road, 5 miles south of Interstate 680 in southern Alameda County. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended.
Poetry contest: Poets of all ages take note: the Muir Heritage Land Trust is sponsoring a poetry competition: "Outside Rhymes -- Connecting Community to Nature."
You can enter in one of three divisions: Youth (ages 5 to 12), Teens (13 to 17) and Adults (18 and up). Write a poem that expresses a special connection with nature that you have experienced or would like to experience. Entries must be submitted by Sept. 1 to the trust's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/muirheritagelandtrust, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners will be announced in mid-September. Winning entries will be printed in the trust's "Horizons" newsletter, and winners will be able to recite their poems at a special land trust event. Based in Martinez, Muir Heritage Land Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to acquiring and preserving wildlands and open space for present and future generations.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at email@example.com.