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.

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.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Parks. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.