By Ned MacKay
As Thanksgiving approaches, with its sedentary schedule of turkey and television football games, mark your calendar for 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Nov. 24.
That’s when naturalist Susan Ramos will “Burn the Turkey” hike at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. It’s a 2½-mile walk through the trees on the park’s West Ridge, Tres Sendas and Stream Trails, intended to help you lose some calories while enjoying the beauties of nature.Meet Susan at the park’s Skyline Gate, which is on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland, a bit south of the intersection with Shepard (cq) Canyon Road. Heavy rain cancels the hike. For information, call 510-544-3187.
Or you can drop by Crab Cove Visitor Center at Crown Beach in Alameda. There will be nature-themed activities all day,from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 24. The center is at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.
And down at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, “Green Friday Family Fun” is planned from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 at the park visitor center. Help the naturalists create a special “Tree of Thanks” exhibit and make a tree-themed ornament to take home. Parental participation is required. Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Call 510-544-3220 for information.
And what’s more, in partnership with Recreational Equipment Inc., the Park District is declaring the day after Thanksgiving as “Opt Out” Friday, encouraging people to get outdoors instead of shopping. On that day, entry to the regional parks is free for all active and retired military personnel.
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Pre-Thanksgiving, several informative programs are planned at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley. “Mushroom Blooms” is from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 with interpretive student aide Laura Graham. Learn about the fungi that the rainy season will bring, and craft your own mushroom specimen.
Then from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, the topic is “Where does our food come from?” with interpretive student aide Brianna Contaxis-Tucker. Find out how much energy is required to get your favorite foods from farm to table.
Both programs meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive. Call 510-544-2233 for information.
Speaking of mushrooms, a word of caution. Many varieties grow in the regional parks. Some of them are deadly poisonous. Unless you really know what you are doing, collecting wild mushrooms can be very dangerous. Besides, gathering any plants or animals in the parks is prohibited by District ordinances. The safest place to obtain mushrooms is your supermarket produce counter.
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Birds other than turkeys are the focus of a series of Monday bird-watching walks led by naturalist Anthony Fisher. There’s one from 9 a.m. to noon on Nov. 20 at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Pt. Richmond. All levels of expertise are welcome. Meet Anthony at the park’s first entrance after the tunnel on Dornan Drive. Call 510-544-2233.
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At Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, guided tours of the Underground Mining Museum are offered at various times on weekends through the end of November. For safety reasons, children must be age seven or older and accompanied by an adult. The mining museum is closed from December through February; it reopens the first weekend in March.
Registration is required for the tours, and there is a fee. For information, call the Park District reservation department at 888-327-2757, option 2.
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Scatology and recycling are on the agenda at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.
Scatology is from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, with naturalist Cat Taylor. Find out which animals are around by signs they left behind.
Recycling is from 2 to 3 p.m. on the same day. Learn new ways to reuse common household items.
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There are lots of other programs on tap in the Regional Parks. Check them out at www.ebparks.org. And by all means make time to explore your regional parks. This is a great time of year to do so, when the air is fresh and the hills are starting to turn green again.