CA State Budget Funds New Outreach and Engagement Project at Urban State Parks

Over the summer, Governor Brown signed the 2016-17 Fiscal Year State Budget, which includes funding for several initiatives near and dear to CSPF’s heart. This is part two of a three-part series taking an in-depth look at these projects to tell the story of why advocacy for state parks matters. #advocacymatters #yourvoiceforparks

Last month we “dug” into how special funds allocated in the new budget will bring solar energy to Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park after a four-year effort.

This month we want to tell you about another budget victory that is enabling the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to develop and implement a two-year Community Liaison Pilot Project at two of the largest urban state parks in California, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco and Los Angeles State Historic Park.

We believe that the future of California’s state park system depends on engaging more Californians, and developing greater awareness and support for parks among diverse communities. This program will help DPR increase engagement with established community-based organizations and nonprofit groups. Together they will be able to conduct outreach and engage local community members in the creation of culturally relevant interpretive and environmental programming at these parks. You can learn more about the program objectives and deliverables on the DPR Transformation Blog.


New bird nesting island at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area created during Yosemite Slough Phase 1 Wetlands Restoration.

CSPF has played a critical role in the development of both Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (CPSRA) and Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) and is excited about this new project and its potential to provide more meaningful park experiences to more people.

At CPSRA, CSPF led a 2003 feasibility study that showed restoration of the 34-acre Yosemite Slough area of the park would be beneficial for the entire bay and resulted in a three-phase Yosemite Slough Restoration Plan. In 2012, CSPF completed the Phase 1 wetlands restoration and environmental cleanup on the north side of Yosemite Slough. Phase 2, for which we recently completed fundraising, will create a “green” education center, trails, nature viewing and recreation areas, parking and restroom facilities, and other amenities to make the 21 acres of parklands restored during Phase 1 accessible for public use and enjoyment. In addition, CSPF is collaborating with DPR and other key partners and community groups to develop rich place-based educational programs for CPSRA. Learn more here.


Design rendering of the new Los Angeles State Historic Park currently under construction.

The land for Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) was acquired by DPR in December 2001. Since that time, CSPF has been instrumental in the creation of the park’s master plan and has supported the development of a groundbreaking interactive interpretive program for its welcome center. The park is not yet fully open to the public but is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2017.

Learn More and Plan Your Visit

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is located in the southeast part of the city and county of San Francisco, adjacent to the site of the former Candlestick Park stadium. As California’s first urban state park, Candlestick Point is readily accessible to over 4 million local residents.

The park offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, with picnic areas, fishing piers, a fitness course for seniors, and hiking and biking trails. The park also has an area popular with windsurfers.

Los Angeles State Historic Park includes 32 acres of open space directly adjacent to Chinatown. Once the park opens, visitors will have access to walking paths with views of downtown and interpretive opportunities to discover and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Los Angeles.


Celebrate Mother’s Day in CA State Parks

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8. Looking for a unique way to celebrate mom? This year, think more wildflower than bouquet, more Mother Nature than brunch. Here are some outdoor outings perfect for the California mom in your life:


View from Rancho del Oso by David Baron

Wander the Coast

Bring mom on a 1 mile, 1.5 hour guided walk with docent naturalist Ann Garside at Rancho del Oso (the coastal portion of Big Basin in Davenport). The group will walk from coastal scrub through one of the last native stands of Monterey Pine left in the world, enjoying the blooms along the way.

More info

74075 empire mine.jpg

Empire Mine State Historic Park by Pat Sullivan

Enjoy a Spring Picnic

Pack up a picnic and head to the Empire Gardens at Empire Mine State Historic Park from 11am to 4pm Sunday. You can visit with the costumes characters in many of the buildings, enjoy music and children’s activities. Food vendors will be available from 11 am to 2pm or you can bring in a picnic lunch to enjoy inside the Park. (Picnics are allowed inside the Historic Grounds & Gardens only 4 days a year!)

More info


A hiker in Big Basin Redwoods by TrongQuyen Nguyen

Take a Hike

Get mom out of dodge and go enjoy one of the countless hikes in California state parks. Bring her to your favorite trail, or look for new routes recommended by our partner Weekend Sherpa.

If you’d like something a little more organized, join a two and a half mile, two hour guided hike along Mills Creek at Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park. Enjoy one of our areas hidden treasures as you learn about the lives of the first pioneers and farming families.

More info


Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park photo by David Fulmer 

Serve Breakfast in Tent

If your mom is on the more adventurous side, take her camping! Here are some great Bay Area campsites to choose from. In the morning, you can serve her breakfast in her tent.


Ferry ride to Angel Island

Set Sail

For an extra unique afternoon, treat Mom to a ferry ride to Angel Island, where you can spend the afternoon on a guided hike to Angel Island’s Historic Camp Reynolds, where you’ll be greeted with a pizza lunch at the historic bake house.  After lunch, enjoy mimosas at Battery Ledyard and the best photo ops the Bay Area has to offer of the San Francisco Skyline, San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, hop in an open-air tram for a quick jaunt back to the cafe at Ayala Cove to catch the 3:20 p.m. ferry back to Tiburon.

More info


Jack London State Historic Park by Kate Dollarhyde

Find Zen

Learn about mindful walking meditation during a 4.5 -mile hike in Jack London State Historic Park on Saturday. Hike leader and docent Jeff Falconer will give an overview at 10 a.m. of walking meditation that has been used as a healing tool during a 1.5-mile hike to Jack London’s lake before you embark on a 3-mile hike, 2-hour hike between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Meet at the Ranch parking lot.

More info


D.L. Bliss State Park by Ray Bouknight

Head to the Lake

You know the ocean beaches, but don’t forget about our lakeside beaches, like Calawee Cove Beach along Lake Tahoe.

33577 polo.jpg

Polo at Will Rogers by Nancy Jackson

Catch a Polo Match

Bring a blanket and a picnic brunch to Will Rogers State Historic Park and watch horses pound up and down the field right before you.  Learn a little bit about polo, watch a match and then hike the park or tour Will Rogers old house (he was a huge horse and polo fan). Matches are free and open to the public all summer.  There are matches most Saturdays from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

More info

Where will you go this Mother’s Day?

Know Your History, Know Your Parks – Part 2

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles … just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: The Gold Rush

One Hidden Stories presenter, Tomás Summers Sandoval, Ph.D., works as a professor of Chicana/o Studies and History at Pomona College in Claremont. He posed the following sneak peek question:

Did you know that in the 19th century, Latin Americans from nations other than Mexico were the majority of the Spanish-speaking population of San Francisco? And, what first drew Latin American migrants to San Francisco?

Mercedes Melendez Wright San Francisco, 1890s Native of El Salvador, married to American Capt. John T. Wright Photo courtesy of Pamela Wright Lloyd

Mercedes Melendez Wright
San Francisco, 1890s
Native of El Salvador, married to American Capt. John T. Wright
Photo courtesy of Pamela Wright Lloyd

During and following California’s gold rush in 1848, many Central Americans and South Americans, principally Peruvians, Bolivians, and Chileans, flocked to San Francisco by boat. San Francisco was the gateway to the gold fields. Many people from South America’s Andean countries had been mining for generations under the watchful eye of the Spanish. They arrived to not only work the gold fields, but also to provide services as mining experts. Others arrived as sea-going and land-based merchants to take advantage of the wild and bustling economy in the city and the Sierra Nevada.

Find out more about this and other topics at our Hidden Stories Conference. Conference and ticket information can be found here.

Above the clouds…and fog: East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais (Photos)

A guest post BY VICTOR VOLTA

Victor is a professional photographer and writer, living in Alameda, CA. He has a degree in Journalism from San José State University. He is an avid hiker, loves road trips to the Sierras and the desert.


East Peak, Mt. Tamalpais

There are various ways to get to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais (directions from Mill Valley). At 2,571’, it’s the highest point in the park . The easiest way is to cheat and drive up East Ridgecrest Boulevard, park in the lot and wander around the summit, taking in the panoramic views.

But as with most things worth savoring, a little hard work is more beneficial to the soul, not to mention the heart, lungs and legs. The southern approach from Fern Creek Trail is one of the most challenging stretches of climbing in the entire park. The best starting point for this option is to park at the lot across from Mountain Home Inn on the Panoramic Highway. On mid-week mornings, parking is ample, but it can fill up on weekends, especially during the late spring and summer. There are two chemical toilets and a stunning view of Muir Woods below and to the west.

One caveat: From the parking lot, the starting point isn’t apparent or obvious. First the hiker must cross the street (look both ways for cars being driven by awestruck tourists, speeding cyclists, or deer) then walk up the driveway of the Throckmorton Fire House. You might feel like a trespasser, but continue to the left of the station and you’ll see a wide fire road (Hogback Fire Road).

The terrain starts off with a moderate incline, but once past the water tower and the Matt Davis trailhead, the real workout begins and it’s a steep climb of several hundred yards to the intersection of Old Railroad Grade Fire Trail. Unless the hiker is out to really punish their legs, an occasional stop to catch one’s breath and to take in the view to the south is recommended. While a magnificent scene of the forest peeking through a fog bank like the above photo isn’t guaranteed, the view is always something to be marveled at. Depending on visibility and the fog bank, stretching to the horizon are views of Sausalito, San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and countless other landmarks.

The T-intersection of Old Railroad Grade (1400’) is a good place to stop and rest, drink some water and perhaps shed a layer of clothing. This fire road is a popular thoroughfare for mountain bikers on their way from Mill Valley to either West Point Inn or the East Peak. Continuing to the left, it’s an easy amble of less than half a mile on the wide fire road to the Fern Creek trailhead.

Nestled against the mountainside in the crease formed by Fern Creek, the trail to the summit is single track (no bikes allowed) that takes the hiker up varied terrain up the southern slope towards the summit. This trail section is roughly a mile in length, gaining about 1,000′ in elevation, making it one of the steepest one-mile stretches in the park.

It’s starts steeply up switchbacks and steps in the shade of bay laurel, oak and a smattering of evergreens. This time of year (early April) finds blooms of wild iris. A quarter mile up, the trail flattens, crosses Fern Creek, and then reaches the intersection of the short Tavern Pump trail. From here it’s a hard, steady climb. Once past a long wooden staircase, the underbrush becomes mainly chamise and manzanita and the path turns rockier and more uneven. On the way down, this rocky terrain will test the treads on one’s hiking shoes and help determine if a trip to REI to buy new ones is needed.

There’s a final steep chute through a tunnel of manzanita branches that takes the hiker to the end of the trail. One more caveat: This isn’t the summit. The summit is a short climb away from the Visitor Center, which is to the right about two hundred yards up an access road. In addition to the visitor center (open only on weekends) there are bathrooms, picnic tables and the views become expansive once again.

For those who want to experience the true summit of the East Peak, it’s another quarter mile and 200’ climb up a wooden walkway that eventually gives way to a rockier trail. At the end of this short section is a lookout tower that’s inaccessible to the public, but from just below it, finally gives the hiker a panoramic view in all directions. Lunch can be enjoyed here above the clouds and fog (hopefully), back down near the Visitor Center, or some other spot of the hiker’s choosing.

For the return trip, the hiker can either backtrack to Mountain Home Inn or, using a trail map, pick a new route back down the mountain.

This article originally appeared on

Guest Post: Weekend Swap!

A guest post BY JUSTIN LUCAS

Justin Lucas recently started a new website with two friends called where people can log on to lend or borrow gear so they can enjoy the outdoors. Justin explains how Weekend Swap works and why it is great for state park users. 


What’s all about?

We allow people to borrow and lend outdoor gear. One of our main goals is to inspire people to get out there and try something new. Want to go camping for the first time but need a tent? You can simply rent one through us without having to buy one. Want to go kayaking this weekend? Weekend Swap has a kayak for you. Want to try stand up paddleboarding? We’ve got you covered.

So how does it work?

If you’re borrowing gear, you simply browse our website for an item in your area. We recently launched in the San Francisco area, so most of the items will be from there, although we are still accepting listings from all over the world. Once you find something you like, you then pay for your rental online and determine a meeting spot to pick up your item from the lender. Then you return your item to your lender when the rental period is over.

As a lender, you can make some cash on the gear you just have lying around. Why let these awesome items go to waste? All you do is list your item on our site then set a per-day rental fee. You also determine a deposit amount for your item. So let’s say you listed a stand up paddleboard for $25/day that’s valued at $1000. You can set your deposit amount to $1000. If your borrower damages your SUP, you can charge part of that deposit amount or if it wasn’t returned, you can then charge the full deposit amount.

Once an item is rented out, then you’re given your rental fee minus a 9% transaction fee.

Who is Weekend Swap for?

Everyone, of course!

If you’re a seasoned fan of the outdoors, maybe there are still many activities you want to try out. If you’re someone who desires to be more active, maybe buying expensive items or dealing with your typical rental shops might seem too intimidating at first.

Either way, Weekend Swap has a little something for everyone.

A Slough Success

The newly-created Bird Island in Yosemite Slough at Candlestick

We’ve got good news about a capital project that is dear to our hearts at CSPF. The California Department of Parks and Recreation has announced completion of Phase I of the Yosemite Slough Wetlands Restoration Project at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, nearly one year ahead of schedule.

Key elements of the $14.3 million restoration included the removal of existing structures and debris on the north side of the Yosemite Slough canal as well as clean-up of contaminated soils, the creation of seven new acres of seasonal wetlands, and re-vegetation of the site with native plants to increase local biodiversity.

Slough view

Nearly a decade in the planning, the project has been a successful collaboration between public and private partners including the State Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, Bay Area Development Commission, the City of San Francisco, Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 – San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund/San Francisco Estuary Partnership, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Barkley Fund and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Post-project aerial shot of Yosemite Slough at Candlestick

The next phase of restoration will begin late summer with construction of the north shoreline Bay Trail, expected to be completed by September. Subsequent phases will restore wetlands on the south side of Yosemite Slough and add capital improvements.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or making a donation towards the restoration of the Yosemite Slough wetlands at Candlestick Point SRA, please contact Sara Feldman at (213) 542-2450 or email at

Guest Post: A Visit to Castle Rock State Park


This is my first post on the CalParks blog.  As an East Coast native exploring many of the California state parks for the first time, I wanted to share a fantastic day trip to Castle Rock, which is now one of my favorite California parks.  While everyone visits state parks for different reasons, it’s our shared joy of what they offer that helps create a community and preserve them for the future.  Thanks to the CalParks team for letting me post this and for the work you do every day to help our parks!

Castle Rock trees covered in moss.

Castle Rock State Park jumped to the top of my list of hikes to explore a few weeks ago. I had learned from a friend that the park’s odd-shaped boulders and cliffs have been the stomping grounds for some of the world’s best rock climbers. Reading more about the park, I quickly discovered that Castle Rock is an equally special place for back-packers and day-trippers who love the park’s vistas, Douglas Firs, and wildlife.

This last Saturday I finally got to join the ranks of visitors as a few friends and I woke up early, bought oranges, and made the two-hour trip south from San Francisco to Castle Rock.

The park is now one of my favorites.

Dripping Wet, A Park Transformed

During a weirdly dry California winter, the Saturday we visited Castle Rock was one of the wettest days of the season. We arrived at the park to find it socked in by clouds and mist, leaving every nook and cranny cool and damp. Still, the parking lot was packed with excited hikers not minding the weather.  Before we took off we ran into a large Boy Scout troop hurriedly waterproofing their backpacks with plastic covers and getting ready for an overnight trip, all with big smiles on their face.

Castle Rock itself is covered in moss.  It hangs from overhead branches, and is attached to the trunks and limbs of nearly every tree you pass.  With the greenness of the park, you get the sense that so close to the Pacific, the park is in its most natural state with a bit of rain and fog.  For me, one of the best parts of the hike was getting to the top of the Saratoga Gap. We looked out over the famous vista and instead of an ocean view, were treated to a wall of fog, slowly marching up the cliff.  While not the traditional vista, after a tough hike, the lookout into the abyss of fog was incredible in its own way.

So Many Different People

One of the most shocking things to me about Castle Rock is the diversity of people who visit the park.  From hardcore rock climbers to day-tripping families, the park offers something for everyone.

On our trip we ran into a group of European trail runners, college students playing in the caves of Goat Rock, and photographers snapping close ups of the fauna.  At just over 5,000 acres of preserved wilderness, it really is amazing how much seclusion and adventure the park can provide to so many different people.

Hiking required ponchos on this soggy day.

A Bit of Urgency

Ultimately, our trip was marked with a sense of urgency given that Castle Rock is one of 70 California State Parks whose budget has been cut and whose fate lies in limbo.  The park now depends on community and non-profit support to carry on.  After visiting Castle Rock, I couldn’t imagine a future without it, and hope we can all pitch in to help it live on.  Otherwise I look forward to traveling down to Castle Rock again soon and seeing a new side of the park, on a clear day.  I would love to hear your stories or thoughts on the park. Feel free to share them below.


Nathan Parcells is a life-long backpacker and outdoorsman.  After interning for both the National Park Conservation Association and National Audubon Society, Nathan moved from his hometown of Bethesda to San Francisco to start, a company that helps students find internships with a focus on non-profits.