Try the TrailSafe "app" to access safety tips, trail use etiquette and public safety phone numbers. The "check in" feature allows you to share your location, including park name and GPS coordinates, with trusted friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Cattle are large animals, weighing 1,000 pounds or more. If you encounter cattle on the trails, try not to startle them. Protect yourself, your pets, and the livestock. Do not let your pets chase or harass livestock. If cattle are blocking the trail, approach them slowly, speak normally, and allow them to move away. Don’t attempt to touch livestock. Do not get between the mother cow and young calves. If you encounter a cow that is acting in a threatening manner or appears to be injured, sick, or dead, please note the location, the color of the animal, the ear tag number, and report it to park staff. For more information on hiking safely near cattle, see our Safety Tips for hiking near grazing animals.
Upon arrival at the trailhead or parking area, keep your dog(s) on-leash--dogs must leashed in all parking lots, picnic areas, developed areas such as lawns and play fields, and on some trails. They must be under voice control at all times. Read the posted dog rules. They must also remain on-leash 200 feet in from the trailhead or park entrance, which allows a "cooling off" period for your pet excited to be outdoors.
During your walk, watch for signs of thirst, hunger, and fatigue. You know your dog best, so pay attention to the telltale signs that only you may know.
On the trail, take rest stops for yourself and your buddy. Dogs appreciate some time in the shade to cool off, too.
Very important! If your dog deposits waste along the trail, pick it up in your dog waste bag or one provided at the park. Please take it with you - do not leave it on the side of the trail. These bags are often forgotten and remain for someone else to pick up. Everyone likes to see a clean park, so please do your part.
Be sure to keep your dog close, there are many dangers for dogs in the parks. They can also transmit poison oak to their owners if they are allowed to romp off trail. Be aware that many people are afraid of dogs despite an owner's belief that their dog is a friendly one. And many people do not appreciate an uncontrolled and overly friendly dog jumping on them or their children.
Note: When hiking with children, consider trail conditions, weather, and the physical conditions of the kids. Start with low mileage and work your way up. Remember that kids tire easily and are more affected than adults by rain and cold conditions.
When walking or hiking with kids, keep incentive treats with you. If a child is having a hard time getting up a hill and the view at the top is not enough to keep them going, establish stopping points where the child will get a treat. Keep granola bars, trail mix, or energy treats handy. The number of stopping points depends on the child: establish more at shorter distances for younger children. The more stopping points, the smaller the treat.
This is a great time to play age-appropriate games. Try “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Find shapes in the clouds during rest stops. See what you can find on the trail to teach them about nature and hold their interest.
Give responsibilities to kids 12 years and older. For example, let them keep the map and lead the way. Put them in charge of water and snack breaks. If you have an old or disposable camera, let your child be photographer for the day.
Park district firefighter gives tips to prevent fires in the parks. More about reducing wildfire risk.
Parks police officer gives tips to prevent auto burglary in the parks. More about personal safety and crime prevention tips.
When planning your hike, consider your physical condition, the length of the trail and level of difficulty, and the predicted weather conditions. You can shorten or lengthen your planned route to meet your ability or to accommodate the weather. Before heading out, always tell a family member or friend where you are going, what trail(s) you are planning to hike, and when you expect to return. Take plenty of water, dress for the weather, and know the location of an emergency phone before you begin. When possible, go with a friend.
Use the following guidelines to determine how far to go and what level of difficulty suits you:
Easy trails are relatively flat and in good condition (paved or packed gravel). Length varies from 1 to 3 miles, generally taking 1 to 2 hours or less to complete. These trails are generally suitable for strollers.
Moderate trails have significant elevation gain (500-1000 feet), are 3-6 miles in length, and trail conditions vary from good to rugged. Hikes generally take 2-4 hours to complete. You must be in good physical condition and carry plenty of water, a high energy snack, and a first aid kit.
Challenging trails have significant elevation gain (1000+ feet), 6-20 miles or more in length, and trail conditions can vary from good to rugged. Hikes generally take from 4-8 hours to complete. You be in good physical condition and carry plenty of water, a high energy snack, and a first aid kit.
The glossy leaves grow in sets of three (like the wild blackberry) and change from light green in the spring to pink or red in the summer. The “poison” is the oil found throughout the plant. Even touching the plant's stem can cause a reaction on the skin. Avoiding poison oak is the best way to avoid the itchy rash caused by touching the plant. Staying on the trail will help avoid contact. If you do come in contact with poison oak, wash immediately with soap and water. Calamine lotion relieves itching. If the rash spreads, see a physician.
Remember “Leaves of three, let it be; if it’s hairy, it’s a berry” (the hair being the thorns of a blackberry).
To report an emergency or a crime or suspicious activity that is in progress, call 911 or (510) 881-1121 from a cell phone, 24 hours a day. To report park rule violations such as reckless bike, skate or scooter riding, or a failure to properly leash or control a pet, submit a Park Watch Report by mail or by fax by downloading and filling out the Park Watch Report, which is also available in brochure boxes in many Regional Parks locations. You can also submit your incident report using the Online Park Watch Report for.
Although most snakes found in California are harmless, the northern pacific rattlesnake can deliver a venomous bite if provoked. Its coloration allows it to blend in with the soil, providing excellent camouflage. Rattlesnakes and gopher snakes have similar coloration, therefore rattlesnakes are often mistaken for its harmless cousin. Therefore, use caution and avoid any snake you see in the wild.
If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and have someone call 9-1-1. The victim should remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. Wash the wound, if possible. (Rattlesnake bites are typically associated with intense, burning pain.) If you are by yourself, walk calmly to the nearest source of help. DO NOT RUN! If bitten by another kind of snake, wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of a tick. It may be treated and cured with early diagnosis, but if not properly treated it may persist in the body for years.
Check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks frequently and thoroughly!
In California, the western black-legged tick is the major carrier of Lyme disease. The adult female is reddish-brown with black legs, about 1/8 inch long. Males are smaller and brownish-black. Both are teardrop shaped.
Early symptoms may include a spreading rash accompanied by fever, aches, and/or fatigue.
Prompt removal of ticks may prevent disease transmission.
Download: Snakes, ticks, poison oak and other wildlife encounters [PDF]
Photo courtesy Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
Park ranger gives tips for hiking safely.
As a general rule for beginners, hiking one mile on relatively flat terrain at a moderate pace takes approximately one-half hour. For hikes labeled “challenging,” or on days when the temperature is over 90 degrees, allow extra time and take more water! Hikers should wear sturdy shoes with ankle support.
Carry extra water and dog waste bags when hiking with dogs. Dogs should wear identification in case of separation. Carry a 6-foot leash at all times. Know which parks allow dogs off-leash and where dogs are prohibited.
Bicyclists are more susceptible to fatigue and dehydration when riding in heat and on steep trails. Take PLENTY of water and a high-energy snack. A six to ten-mile route on unpaved fire roads in the East Bay hills is a challenging route for an intermediate rider to complete in two hours. Easier, flatter, paved trails are ideal for family bicycle outings. Always wear a helmet; helmets are required for anyone age 16 or younger. Bring a bicycle tube patch kit and a bike pump in case your bike gets a flat. A bike bell is not required, but is useful for warning others when you are about to pass. Remember to yield to pedestrians. Before passing pedestrians, slow down and call out and/or ring your bike bell to ensure that you can pass safely. When approaching equestrians, call out and/or ring your bell and stop, whether you are seen or not. Ask for instructions on how to pass safely. On blind turns, slow down, call out and/or ring your bell, and ride in single file.
When planning your outing, consider terrain, temperature, humidity, and your horse’s condition. Chart a course that will allow your horse to drink at least once every hour. For an average horse, a hilly, 5 to 7-mile route should take about 1-1/2 hours. Learn to take your horse’s pulse and respiration rate. Always wear a helmet and wear sturdy boots. Keep your horse to the right or where safe when encountering others on the trail, and communicate: let other trail users know how to pass your horse safely.
Pavement conditions and steepness of grades are factors to consider when choosing a route suitable for wheelchairs. Wheelchair users tend to get cold faster than walkers or bikers, so bring something to keep warm and dry even if you do not expect cold weather. Traveling with a companion is recommended. See our Short-Loop Trails page for recommendations on suitable paved and unpaved trails.
Pavement conditions, steepness of grades, and skating ability are factors to consider when choosing a skating route. Paved trails have gentle to medium grades and smooth pavement; however, be prepared to encounter leaf debris, cracks, and uneven surfaces. You should have the ability to safely negotiate around road debris, dogs, bikes, and other trail users while maintaining control. Always wear a helmet, wrist guards, and knee pads.
Park district lifeguard gives safety tips for swim facilities.
BEFORE visiting any East Bay Regional Park
District swimming facilities, please take a few moments to download and
review the official swimming
Visitor Rules and Regulations. [PDF]
Learn CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Updated with new CPR Guidelines (for non professional rescuers) issued by the American Heart Association.
Coyote, bobcats, deer, elk, wild pigs, and mountain lions are occasionally spotted in the parks. Their normal reaction is to run away. Some have become used to our presence and will continue their activities while being watched. Never feed, try to approach, or pet wild animals. Keep pets and small children near you in wilderness areas. Because of their size, these animals could become dangerous should they be surprised, confronted, or if they begin to associate humans with food.
If you would like more information on wildlife to watch for, ask for brochures at Regional Parks Visitor Centers.