Tilden: Curran-Lake Anza-Selby-Wildcat Gorge Trail Hike

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

View the entire Google Web Album

One of the District’s three oldest parks, Tilden has been called the jewel of the system, and its recreational activities have become a happy tradition for generations of East Bay youngsters. From a carousel ride and a picnic to a swim at Lake Anza and a stroll through the Botanic Garden, Tilden has variety to delight everyone. Yet there are plenty of quiet places in Tilden’s 2,079 acres to shelter the wildlife and preserve natural beauty. Tilden was named for Charles Lee Tilden, first president of the Park District Board of Directors.

There are 39.41 miles of trails in Tilden Park, through many different kinds of terrain.  The larger multi-use trails allow hikers, bicyclers, and horses, some are for hikers and horses only, and the smaller single-track trails are for hikers only. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.htm

This hike starts from Inspiration Point at Nimitz Gate in Berkeley. Follow Curran Trail underneath the eucalyptus forest and redwoods to Wildcat Creek before heading south on Wildcat Gorge Trail for a gorgeous scenic loop along Wildcat Creek  to Lake Anza. Continue on Selby Trail for a stop at the Merry-Go-Round before returning on Wildcat Gorge Trail to Curran Trail.

Inspiration Point parking lot to Nimitz Gate.

Mile 0.7-at the Curran Trail/Nimitz Way trail junction: turn left onto Curran Trail and follow it down to the next junction at Meadows Canyon.

Some wildflowers!

At the Meadows Canyon/Curran Trail junction: go straight to stay on Curran Trail. The trails drifts downhill through the scented eucalyptus forest towards Wildcat Creek.

A bench along the right side of the trail provides great open views of the surrounding forests and hills around Tilden!

At the Curran/Wildcat Gorge Trail junction: turn left onto Wildcat Gorge Trail and meander through the beautiful shaded oak/bay woodland canyon along Wildcat Creek.

The short climb out of the canyon leads up to the shoreline at Lake Anza.

Mile 0.9-at the Lake Anza Trail post: turn left for a leisurely jaunt along the east side of Lake Anza.

Shadow jumped and splashed in the lake for a nice cool down-she had fun!

Mile 1.1-at the unsigned trail split: go left and follow the rocky trail as it exits the lake area.

Mile 1.2-at the unsigned trail split: go straight towards the woodlands to the next junction.

At the equestrian trail post: turn right onto the unsigned Wildcat Gorge Trail. The narrow trail winds under a canopy of trees along Wildcat Creek with a two short bridge crossings.

The trail continues to cuts through the woods and poison oak covered banks before emerging out under a eucalyptus grove.

Mile 1.8-at the Selby Trail post: turn right onto the Selby Trail and follow it through the dense brush and blackberry bushes to the next next junction.

Mile 2.1-at the Selby/Lake Anza Trail junction: go straight to stay on Selby Trail. The single track trail travels uphill with views of the lake and parking area.


Selby Trail continues under the shade of the redwoods before exiting out onto Central Park Dr.

Mile 2.4-turn right onto Central Park Dr and and follow the paved road downhill towards the Merry-Go-Round.

Mile 2.6-turn right at the road split and go uphill to the Merry-Go-Round. Sit awhile, have a snack and enjoy the carousel of horses and other animals going round and round! Tilden’s Herschell-Spillman Merry-Go-Round is a splendid antique menagerie carousel with hand-carved and beautifully painted wooden carousel animals to ride, and calliope-style music to make any child’s heart sing. The facility offers a wheelchair accessible snack stand, drinking water, restroom, and parking. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.htm

Exit the carousel area on the NE side, continue pass the water fountain and take the concrete steps to the lower picnic area out to main road.

Mile 2.9-cross Central Park Dr to the unsigned Selby Trail. This seldom used trail scrambles up through the tall grass before reaching the redwoods. Continue to scramble underneath the redwoods onto the main trail.

Mile 3.0-at the T junction: turn right onto Selby Trail as it rolls under the redwoods into the dense oak/bay woodlands with glimpses of the surrounding hills and forests.


Mile 3.6-at the Selby Trail junction: turn right and go downhill into the woods. The trail crosses two wooden bridges before exiting out onto Canon Dr.

Mile 3.8-at Canon Dr: turn right onto Canon Dr and head downhill to the road split at Central Park Dr. Turn right onto Central Park Dr followed by a left turn onto Lone Oak Rd.

Mile 4.2-at the first fire trail gate adjacent to the open meadow: turn right onto the unsigned Wildcat Gorge Trail. The fire trail leads you into the dense woods and picnic areas along Wildcat Creek.

Cross Wildcat Creek and continue straight onto Wildcat Gorge Trail. The broad trail meanders through the gorgeous shaded canyon along Wildcat Creek.

Enjoy the lush riparian habitat and old thick oak/bay trees.

Mile 4.9-at the Curran Trail Junction: turn left onto Curran Trail for the gentle uphill climb back to Nimitz Way and Inspiration Point.

Wildflowers seen on the trails: dandelion, thistle, mustard, poison hemlock, pineapple weed, deerweed, woodland pea, forget me not, white flowers, blackberry fruit, california blackberry, sweet yellow clover, mayweed, california rose, salsify, scarlet pimpernel, blue-eyed grass, sweet pea, pink wildflowers, california aster and cat tail

This scenic hike is a great get-away from the hot inland temperature; 90% of the trails travel under the shade of the towering eucalyptus and redwoods. You’ll enjoy the beautiful jaunt along Wildcat Creek and the fun stop at the Merry-Go-Round! Sit, relax and enjoy watching the carousel go round and round! Don’t forget to eat the cotton candy, corn dog and fries!

5.7 Miles with 800′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5 hours with a stop at Lake Anza and the Merry-Go-Round
Hike: Easy
Parking: No fee at Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Rd in Berkeley
Pit toilets available inside gate on Nimitz Way-NO WATER
Dog Friendly
Food, water and restrooms at the Merry-Go-Round area. Water & restrooms at Big Leaf and Lone Oak picnic areas

Weather: Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low to high 70’s with NW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile


Print Trail Map

Tilden Wildcat Gorge

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s