Leona Trail

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Overview

Trail Features

Dogs
Allowed
Fees
None
Kids
Allowed
Route
Out and Back
Users
Multi-use
Length
2.7 miles
Parking
Yes
Surface
Dirt and Rock
Bathrooms
None
Elevation
450 ft. gain
Difficulty
Beginner
Trail hours
5:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Parking hours
5:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Water fountains
None
Vending machines
None

Leona Canyon Trail is an easy, out-and-back trail . It is 2.7 miles long and features canyon views. It also has a vast array of fauna, including forests of coastal live oak, willow, alder, buckeye, and California bay trees, as well as meadows of wildflowers in the spring, including toyon, coyote brush, lupine, monkeyflower, and coffeeberry. The trail is within the Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve, a small wooded territory nestled along an urban corridor.

The trail is family-friendly with an easy grade; its total elevation gain is 450 ft. It follows a wide dirt path that is open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians, although encountering horses on the trail is rare. The trails within the Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve are not typically suitable for wheelchairs. There are no restrooms or water fountains on the trail, and the only accessible parking is located at Lot E on the Merritt College Campus. It is advisable to take public transportation to the trailhead, which can be accessed from the Merritt College stop on the AC Transit Line 54 bus from the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland.

Leona Canyon Trail gives hikers an opportunity to experience the majestic beauty of the wild just seconds from civilization. The preserve offers opportunities for historical, cultural, botanical, and geological education for class field trips and the community. It is enjoyable in all seasons.

This trail is moderately trafficked and is accessible year-round.

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Description

As noted above, (see the "Overview"), there is little available parking for the Leona Canyon Trailhead. Parking at Lot E on the Merritt College Campus charges a fee and is only open on weekdays. The easiest way to reach the trail is via public transportation, starting at Canyon Oaks.

The trail sets out at a gated fire road near a housing development on Canyon Oaks. From here, the path will descend downhill before transitioning to a slight climb as you pass two paths running along a small pond to the left. Ignore these paths and continue straight on the fire road and into a forested area of young coast oaks, willows, and California bay trees.

The trail continues along a creek at a slight uphill grade and meets with the Atemesia Trail on the right. Continue straight and pass the Pyrite Trail which branches off the the left. The trail will climb uphill again here, but at the 0.77-mile mark, there is a bench on the right side of the path if you'd like to take a brief break. After the bench, the trail will ascend again, this time more steeply as you climb out of the canyon.

As you leave the forest, you'll find a meadow that features wildflowers in the spring as well as sagebrush, coyote brush, and broom coat. The trail climbs further out of the canyon and ends at a gate and the edge of the Merritt College Parking lot. From here, retrace your steps to return to the trailhead, or arrange for transportation if you would like to end the trail as a point-to-point hike.

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History

The Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve is a 290-acre parkland in Oakland ideal for hiking, cycling, running, dog walking, and bird watching. It is a part of the East Bay Regional Park District, a system of parklands and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, that was established in 1934.

The area of East Bay, including Oakland, was once inhabited by close to 25 tribes who spoke the Ohlone and Bay Miwok languages. Archeological evidence indicates that these people and their ancestors lived in the East Bay dating back to 13,500 years ago.

The Ohlone and Bay Miwok people had a deep connection with and respect for their environment and the Leona Canyon Trail presents a number of the different plants and trees used by these tribes for food, medicine, and supplies. Evergreen huckleberries, woodland strawberries, and California blackberries were enjoyed not only as foods but as medicines and teas. Western poison oak shoots were used for basketry and cooking. The acorns of the coast live oak provided a staple food for the local Native Americans, which they processed into acorn flour used in soups, mushes, breads, and cakes.

As you travel the Leona Canyon Trail, you will also observe geological formations, including rocks formed from marine sediments during the Jurassic Period. These rocks formed over rhyolite, an ignatious, volcanic rock seen on the tops and sides of the ridges of the canyon.

In short, a brief hike into the woods at Leona Canyon Open Space Preserve provides a number of different perspectives of the history of this region, from the geological events that shaped the land to the plants and animals that sustained its Native people.

For more information about programs through which local Ohlone and Bay Miwok share cultural knowledge and skills, please contact the Coyote Hills Visitor Center at (510) 544-3220 or e-mail chvisit@ebparks.org.

Sources

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