From the issue Short Hikes, Warm Fires
A Peak and a PintTHE HIKE: With the hills a lush green and the buds blooming, this is a prime time to hike Berkeley's Wildcat Peak in Tilden Park. We recommend the Sylvan and Peak Trails. Just 3.25 miles round-trip, you'll hike through fresh-smelling groves of eucalyptus, bay, and coast live oak, with aah-inspring views of San Francisco and the bay along the way. At the 1,250-foot summit is the Rotary Peace Monument, a circular stone wall that's rededicated annually to the world leader who has contributed the most to world peace. You'll find your own peace just by taking in the sweeping views of the glittering San Pablo and Briones reservoirs, with massive Mt. Diablo rising to the east.
Park at the Environmental Education Center. The trailhead leads off from the deck behind the Center. Follow the sign across the lawn for Jewel Lake Nature Trail (marked by a duck with outstretched wings) for about 150 yards to the post showing the way to Sylvan Trail (marked by three trees). When you reach Sylvan Trail, head right. After .25 mile, cross Loop Road and continue on the Sylvan Trail to the Peak Trail leading off to the right (keep your eyes peeled for the signpost with the symbol for the Peak Trail: a hill). After the summit, turn left at Laurel Canyon Road and then take Laurel Canyon Trail (marked by a laurel leaf) if it's not too muddy. You'll come out at the Little Farm: stop and say hello to the sheep.
THE FIRE: Hip without attitude, and cozy without being crammed, the Albatross—Berkeley's oldest pub—is highly regarded by Cal students and local old-timers alike. They gather around the bar pondering which of the fifty bottled beers or fourteen on tap they should order. There are board games and pool, and the barkeep won't mind a pet dog underfoot (until 8 p.m., at least). Park yourselves by the wood stove and dive into some Little Star deep dish pizza. Before you know it, you'll be signing up for the Tuesday night darts tourney.
The Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; 510-843-2473.