Visitors to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch will find that Somersville Road within the park is closed for resurfacing to all traffic Aug. 25-26.

The park will remain open, but the only access from the Antioch side on those days will be from the gate at the corner where Frederickson Lane makes a right turn into Contra Loma Regional Park.

You can park on the shoulder at the corner and hike or ride into Black Diamond Mines' more remote eastern area. There are pretty views of Mount Diablo, and if you bring a flashlight, you can explore the Prospect Tunnel. It's a long tunnel dug in the 19th century by miners looking for coal (they didn't find any).

The only other access is the Mount Diablo-to-Black Diamond Mines trail, which leads 2.6 miles into the park from a small parking lot on Marsh Creek Road in Clayton.

The Somersville Road entrance will reopen Aug. 27. However, construction is still under way on Somersville Road outside the park between James Donlon Boulevard and Buchanan Road. So to reach Black Diamond Mines from Highway 4, you have to take Contra Loma Boulevard to James Donlon Boulevard, then turn right on James Donlon to Somersville Road. Work on the section of Somersville Road outside the park is scheduled for completion in the fall.


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Dynamite hike: There's a blast of a program this weekend at Black Diamond Mines. Naturalist Mickey Rovere will lead a strenuous 2½-mile hike to visit sites where dynamite was used in mining operations. It's from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, intended for ages 8 and older. Meet Eddie at the uppermost parking lot on Somersville Road. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

Contra Loma concert: And don't forget the free concert Friday, next door at Contra Loma, featuring the Michael Jackson tribute band Foreverland.

The concert is one in a series of events celebrating the 80th anniversary of the park district's foundation. There's a program for kids starting at 5 p.m. Foreverland will play from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. You can bring a picnic dinner and make an evening out of it. The concert and parking are free. No alcoholic beverages of any kind will be allowed in the park.

OAKLEY: The naturalists at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley have scheduled a program that's especially timely in light of the drought. The water cycle and its importance to the Delta is the theme from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Main Street. Parking and admission are free. For more information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

ORINDA: One of the most challenging hikes on the park district's 2014 Trails Challenge list is a 12-miler at Briones Regional Park with 4,000 feet of elevation gain. No, there isn't a 4,000-foot peak at Briones, just lots of incremental ups and downs.

Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will guide the Briones Trails Challenge hike from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 22. Meet her at the Bear Creek staging area. It's on Bear Creek Road about 5 miles east of the intersection with San Pablo Dam Road in Orinda. Bring snacks, plenty of water, and dress for the weather. For information, call 510-544-2233.

BERKELEY: Bugs and trees will be the focus of a couple of programs Sunday at Tilden Nature Area next to Berkeley, both led by naturalist Anthony Fisher.

The bug session is from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Anthony will introduce the fascinating world of insects in all their variety. Then from 2 to 2:30 p.m. he'll talk some tree lore. Both programs are based at Tilden's Environmental Education Center, located at the north end of Central Park Drive. For more information, call 510-544-2233.

Hump day hikers: The Wednesday Walkers, that informal but intrepid group of hikers, will explore Redwood Regional Park in Oakland in a 4.5-mile hike next week led by naturalist Kristina Parkison. Everyone is welcome. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Redwood Bowl parking lot on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland. It's just south of the Chabot Space and Science Center. For information, call 510-544-3213.

HAYWARD: If you prefer evening strolls, there's a Tuesday Twilight hike from 7 to 9:30 p.m. next week at Garin Regional Park in Hayward. Naturalist Chris Garcia will lead a four-mile walk along a creek and into a remote canyon. Bring water, snacks and a flashlight, and wear layered clothing.

Garin Regional Park is at the end of Garin Avenue off Mission Boulevard. Meet at the red barn just down the hill from the parking lot. For information, call 510-544-3212.

Fremont: A reminder for music lovers: the annual Cajun/Zydeco Festival is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Featured performers will include Andre Thierry, plus local and national bands.

Tickets at the gate cost $24 for those 16 and older, $7 for children ages 4 through 15. It's free for kids 3 and younger. Ardenwood is at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd. off Highway 84.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.

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