Low-key outdoor spots near Berkeley to check out during spring break

Photo of the Berkeley Botanical Garden sign
Can Jozef Saul/Staff

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While midterm season is currently underway, spring break is also right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to begin thinking about spring break plans. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to when school starts to feel overwhelming, so if you want to enjoy the outdoors while also avoiding crowds, here are some low-key yet beautiful spots near Berkeley to check out this spring break.

Salt Point State Park

Two hours north of Berkeley along the coast lies Salt Point State Park. This park covers 6,000 acres of land along coastal Northern California and includes hiking trails, campgrounds that can be reserved and stellar views of the rugged coastline. The campgrounds make it easy to camp out in your car or pitch a tent, so you can spend multiple days exploring the ground’s variety of hiking trails and natural scenery. Salt Point is also the perfect place for bouldering, but make sure to bring plenty of crash pads, as the pitted sandstone boulders are not friendly. At the very least, the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway makes coming to Salt Point worth the time.

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Just a stone’s throw away from Berkeley sits Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, located in the Oakland Hills. It sounds odd, but there is, in fact, a volcano essentially in our backyard. This regional preserve is made up of lava and volcanic debris from volcanic activity that occurred 10 million years ago. The rolling hills have since been formed by tectonic forces. Grab a self-guided brochure at the staging area, and explore the park’s several trails such as the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail, which runs along stunning ridge lines.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

Oftentimes, Yosemite National Park is the first place that comes to mind when searching for California’s redwoods. However, the four-hour drive is simply not necessary. Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park’s 1,833 acres of land — only a city over in Oakland — feature a great forest of coast redwoods, grassland and wildlife. Miles of trails meander through the dense forest of coast redwoods, and the sparse crowd levels create a tranquil experience that is unlike other popular redwood destinations.

UC Botanical Garden

Many students forget that UC Berkeley has its very own botanical garden — hosting one of the most diverse plant collections in the United States. The garden is geographically organized into separate regions of the world, and a leisurely walk through the grounds transports visitors from continent to continent. Make sure to check out the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden, a special collection of more than 100 herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. This section of the garden is the only U.S. medicinal garden arranged by traditional Chinese medicinal function groups, which range from “promoting the flow of water” to “regulating blood.” Check here to see what is currently in bloom!

If you need an escape from the crowds of campus life, make sure to check out any one of these spots. Though it may seem unlikely, it’s definitely possible to have your very own personal experience in the outdoors this spring break.

Contact Adrian Fontao at [email protected].