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Let's go to the park

Pleasanton offers plenty of outdoor activities as spring beckons

After one of the wettest Bay Area winters in recent memory, residents are ready to get outside and enjoy the sunnier weather of spring that has started to sneak through the clouds in recent days.

Pleasanton has a wealth of parks and trails to offer fans of the great outdoors, and the list continues to evolve and improve.

Take the Callippe Preserve Hiking Trail

One of the hidden gems of the city's public parks network, the 3.5-mile trail surrounding the city-owned Callippe Preserve Golf Course presents scenic views of the southeast hills, Pleasanton Ridge, Mount Diablo, the golf course and more.

While it might not have the name recognition of say Augustin Bernal Community Park or the Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail or Bernal Community Park, the Callippe trail is just as popular among those who frequent it.

"I think probably most people in Pleasanton don't even know about that trail," said Matt Gruber, landscape architect for the city. "But the trail is really good."

Gruber and city staff hosted perhaps their most well-attended community input hike at Callippe last year when they were collecting resident feedback related to the Trails Master Plan Update.

The mostly off-road trail features slight elevation changes -- so it's good for beginner and moderate hikers alike -- and moves through the natural terrain that has always been a calling card of southern Pleasanton, including grazing lands, open space and under large oak trees. Of course, the golf course and spread-out neighborhood is nearby as well.

Wildlife is another main draws of the Callippe trail. It's a popular spot for birdwatchers, where hawks, vultures, turkeys and more are particularly active there. Deer, foxes and other furry critters are no stranger to the trail area as well.

The Callippe trail offers a full loop around the golf course, with some walking down Happy Valley Road and Westbridge Lane required. It is open to hikers and equestrians (and dogs, on-leash), but is off-limits to bikers.

Part of the city's long-range goal is to see improvements along the paved portion of the trail, including a sidewalk along Westbridge, according to Gruber. But those improvements -- along with any possible new public trails -- would likely occur as part of private development in that part of town.

Alviso Adobe

Across Pleasanton, residents can find Alviso Adobe Community Park -- another one of those public amenities that those in the know call a hidden gem.

The 7-acre city park opened 11 years ago at 3465 Old Foothill Road, right off Foothill Road just south of the high school. The centerpiece is the Francisco Solano Alviso Adobe House, built in 1854 and now registered as a California historical landmark.

Designed as an interpretive park, the Alviso Adobe Park offers a connection to centuries of Pleasanton history, from its Native American beginnings to the era of Spanish Ranchos to the site's use as the Meadowlark Dairy in the mid-1900s to now as an immersive indoor and outdoor learning experience.

“We hear a lot of the times that it’s like a hidden gem,” said Martha Cerda, city naturalist at Alviso Adobe. “I think even Pleasanton residents who have lived here for years don’t know about the adobe -- which is great to hear that it’s their first time here and they’re excited about the place.”

"And because they've grown up here, there's like an emotional tie for them when they see some artifacts, or when they hear stories or even read our interpretive displays," Cerda added. "But even those people who aren't from Pleasanton, they still love the area. It's a beautiful park."

With its historic landmark, educational center, walking paths, calm sitting areas and easy access to the new Castleridge Trailhead for the Pleasanton Ridge, the Alviso Adobe Park offers a little something for everyone.

"We do focus on cultural history, but we also focus on environmental and natural history. So something I really like doing is finding ways on how to connect both natural and cultural history," Cerda said.

One of the new elements at Alviso Adobe aiming to achieve that goal is a tule home replica under construction just inside the entrance to help give a glimpse into what life was like for the area's native Ohlone people, who would build and live inside these home structures centuries ago.

The Alviso Adobe is a popular destination for school field trips, seeing upward of 160 classes of third- or fourth-graders come through each year, according to Cerda. There's also the Ridge Runners weeklong summer camp for youth, with a special spring session scheduled for next month.

Other Alviso activities coming up include "Earth Day Cleanup" on April 13, "Hiking with a Naturalist" (with a paint and hike theme) on April 20, "Arbor Day Picnic" on April 27 and "Nature Storytime" about birds on May 7.

Recent and upcoming projects

The city is working on renovations to what Gruber calls its most popular park amenity: the big slide at Mission Hills Park on Junipero Street.

The 30-year-old slide has become difficult to maintain to an operational standard, according to Gruber, and the Parks and Recreation Commission recently endorsed a design concept to replace the single slide with two slides side-by-side and an interactive climbing path rather than stairs.

As bocce continues to grow in popularity, the city is moving forward with design for renovations of the bocce courts at Centennial Park at the Senior Center.

That after crews finished resurfacing five city basketball courts last fall, including the pair at Pleasanton Tennis and Community Park.

Parks officials are seeking public feedback related to the new tot lot proposed for the Valley Trails community as part of the Sycamore housing development on the former church property at 6900 Valley Trails Drive.

Other medium-range parks projects include replacing the playground equipment at Hansen Park and pursuing better signage at Pioneer Cemetery.

Bigger-ticket items are on the docket as well, such as the City Council set to consider adoption of the Trails Master Plan Update next month and preliminary design work continuing related to renovating Lions Wayside and Delucchi parks in downtown.

The city also decided this month to prioritize in the coming two years efforts to bring an all-inclusive playground to Pleasanton, adding or expanding skate park facilities, designing the Bernal Community Farm and finding a way to add lighting to a new or existing sand volleyball court.

Park improvements in Pleasanton extend beyond the city's scope too.

The East Bay Regional Park District plans to break ground in June on a new nature pavilion at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area off Stanley Boulevard.

"Shadow Cliffs is well known for its swimming, fishing, picnicking, and boating, but there is so much more there, and the new Interpretive Nature Pavilion will help encourage park visitors to explore additional activities in nature like hiking, biking, and nature watching," EBRPD spokesman Dave Mason said.

The estimated $900,000 project will add the 1,000-square-foot educational hub complete with exhibits highlighting the natural and cultural history of the park, as well as information about the recreational opportunities available in the park's nature area.

EBRPD is also celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, with a slate of activities set to be revealed in the weeks to come. One of the key programs will be "Free Park Fridays" with free access to all district parks from April to the end of the year.

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