Image by (Leticia Luna/The Citizen)

April 28, 2021

By Ivan Chairez, Photo Editor

I felt trapped in my living space, anxious, stressed, exhausted and sad. I had forgotten how much I missed the outdoors. I craved for my skin to absorb the sun’s rays, the feeling of a cool breeze brushing against all the little hairs on my arms and face. I realized that being outdoors and spending some time with mother nature might have been the cure for my feelings of doom. 

The first trail I went on was the Lake Anza Loop. It is located in Tilden Regional Park, and sits on the Berkeley Hills.

A view from Lake Anza Loop at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, CA. (Ivan Chairez/The Citizen)

Lake Anza, is open to the public all year round, is a recreational swimming reservoir and home to grassy fields and wooded hiking trails. The Lake Anza loop is a short and moderate hiking trail that wraps itself beautifully around the reservoir. Furry friends are allowed on this trail, but must be kept on a leash.  Relatively close, Lake Anza is approximately 27 minutes from downtown Oakland. The drive to the Lake Anza Loop is serene. The winding roads of Grizzly Peak Blvd made me feel as if I were on top of the world, and I had an entire view of the bay. From the Lake Anza parking lot there is a sidewalk path that leads to the loop trail. This is where I began my hike around Lake Anza. I really enjoyed the stillness of the lake, as well as the critters that I spotted along the way.

A view from Lake Anza Loop at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, CA. (Ivan Chairez/The Citizen)

As I walked along Lake Anza Loop, I would find myself stopping every so often to admire the scenery, I would pause, take in a breath of fresh air and try my hardest to paint a mental image of my surroundings. I wanted to keep this memory in the back of my mind as a safe haven, a memory I could keep in my back pocket in case I ever needed some tranquility. 

A view from Lake Anza Loop at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, CA. (Ivan Chairez/The Citizen)

I chose this trail because it’s a beginners trail and I hadn’t gone hiking in almost a year. A quarter of the trail sits right by the water and there are captivating views. My first time hiking since the start of the pandemic was on December 8th of last year. I wanted to let my mind breathe. The trail helped me do just that. Being able to see so many trees and hear all kinds of birds, I felt like I was able to reset my mental health, and after the hike I was able to experience calmness and I became optimistic about the days ahead of me.

Wildcat Gorge at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, CA. (Ivan Chairez/The Citizen)

The next trail I went on was Wildcat Gorge. The views were captivating as I walked down the trail. There is a flowing creek and an abundance of trees. Being able to hear the sounds of flowing water and the birds singing their love songs was surreal. The end of Wildcat Gorge led me onto the Lone Oak Picnic trail and onto Meadows Canyon trail. There, at its peak, I saw soft grassy hills and tall eucalyptus trees. I decided to stay there for a few minutes and take in the beautiful scenery around me. I then descend the Curran Trail which links back up to Wildcat Gorge. 

Wildcat Gorge, Meadows Canyon, and the Curran Trail are my favorite trails because they made me feel like I was secluded from the city. I wasn’t constantly being agitated by the revving of cars, the squeaking of breaks, and honking of horns. Instead, I was greeted by tall redwoods with their leaves rustling in the wind. On that hike I was relaxed and at peace. These are feelings that I had struggled to experience since the start of the pandemic, and hiking at Tilden Regional Park has helped me get through my weeks. This trail is an average 3.3 mile hike right next to the Lake Anza Loop.

Wildcat Gorge at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, CA. (Ivan Chairez/The Citizen)

After hiking in the Berkeley Hills, I realized that this was a great way for me to destress and relax my mind. I have often felt euphoric when I have completed a trail. Being able to hike while still navigating through this pandemic, has helped me reset my mind, body and soul. Hiking for me is a pastime. A way for me to feel close to nature and the beauty it has to offer.  

Being outdoors in nature can help out anyone who is in need of a change in scenery. With spring in full bloom, as the air is fresh and the birds are chirping, it’s the perfect time to take the liberty to enjoy the outdoors. 

Proper outdoor activity attire is recommended for every hike, make sure you are social distancing from others, have comfy shoes, masks, water and snacks! With the right safety measures, enjoying the outdoors can make a difference when you’ve been confined to remote learning for the past year. The beautiful scenery in the Berkeley Hills might just be what you need.