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Grazing in the Parks
Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area
Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area offers a comfortable setting for either small or large group picnics (some by reservation) or informal gatherings of friends and families.
Long before this 222-acre area became a park, it was the site of ranchos, wheat fields, and stations for a narrow-gauge railroad that ran from Oakland to Orinda through Richmond and the Sobrante Hills. Kennedy Grove was once a portion of the 17,754-acre Rancho San Pablo. Francisco Castro took possession of the rancho in 1823. Later the grove was the site of the Clancy Ranch. In 1886 there were scheduled railroad stops of the California Nevada Railroad at Frenchman's Curve and Laurel Grove Station. The park's picnic areas are named for some of these historic railroad stops. The eucalyptus trees were planted in 1910. The park was dedicated on October 22, 1967. It was named to honor the late President John F. Kennedy. The area is owned and operated by the East Bay Regional Park District.
This indoor/outdoor facility is popular for corporate events, weddings, parties, etc. The setting is beautifully landscaped, casual and rustic. It accommodates 60 seated or 130 standing guests. It features a kitchen, two rooms connected into an L shape, a private enclosed backyard and two decks. Catering is available. For more information call 1-888-EBPARKS OR 1-888-327-2757, press option 2. This facility is wheelchair accessible. See the Fern Cottage page for more information.
Other features in the park include:
- Picnic sites named for some historical railroad stops such as Frenchman's Curve, Laurel Grove Station.
- An open air Amphitheater.
- Trail hillside benches overlooking the surrounding valleys and San Pablo Dam Reservoir.
The grove is situated at the base of San Pablo Dam, and its whispering eucalyptus trees offer a fragrant, calm setting for all kinds of activities from company picnics to family reunions. The centrally located turf meadow provides additional play space for picnickers with enough room to toss a Frisbee, pass a football, or set up an informal softball game. (Hardball is not permitted.) Volleyball and horseshoes are popular with all ages, and equipment may be rented for a minimal fee.
Other popular activities include hiking, day camps, bird watching, naturalist-led activities, walking around the lawn asphalt path, special events such as Cross County Meets and Bay Area Storytelling Festival. Bounce house permits can be obtained from reservations for certain sites.
To make an indoor facility reservation, call 1-888-EBPARKS or 1-888-327-2757, press option 2. For more information on our indoor facilities:
Click HERE to Visit the Corporate and Family Events Page
Kennedy Grove has certain features which allow some handicapped access to areas of the park. We have 9 handicapped parking spots available and, upon prior arrangement, additional parking can be set aside to accommodate larger groups. There are accessible paths leading from the parking lots into the main grove. Many of our sites can be accessed from the Kennedy Loop Trail which circumnavigates the main lawn (approximately .3 mile) and is a paved level surface.
The Hitching Post picnic site has picnic tables which have been modified to accommodate wheelchairs. The Whistle Stop and Abbie Lane picnic sites have ADA approved drinking fountains installed. The Fern Cottage reservable facility has a wheelchair ramp up to the building and includes wheelchair accessible bathrooms.
Certain unpaved trails such as the Laurel Loop trail (approximately .53 mile) have minimal elevation gain and loss. Other trails such as the Kennedy creek trail leading to the Black Oak Loop Trail have more significant elevation gain/loss but are not necessarily unattainable by persons in wheelchairs. Such persons may be advised to have an assistant.
Kennedy Grove can be accessed by automobile or public transportation via BART and bus. There are two options from BART; the Orinda or Richmond Stations. The AC Transit service line 74 runs between the Richmond and Orinda BART stations, so either is an option. The closest stop currently to our park on the 74 line is at the corner of Hillside Drive and Castro Ranch Road. To approach the park you must travel approximately half a mile from the corner or Hillside Drive and Castro Ranch Road to Patra Drive where you make a left and travel a 1000 feet to our entrance at the end of Patra Dr. From that entrance you can loop around to the right and enter the park from the Laurel Loop trail. Click HERE for Public Transit Information.
From the Richmond area:
From northbound I-80, take the San Pablo Dam Road exit and turn right. Proceed through El Sobrante on San Pablo Dam Road to the park entrance, about 0.25 mile south of the intersection with Castro Ranch Road.
From southbound I-80, take the San Pablo Dam Road exit and turn left. Proceed through El Sobrante on San Pablo Dam Road to the park entrance, about 0.25 mile south of the intersection with Castro Ranch Road.
From the Oakland/Orinda/Walnut Creek area:
Take Highway 24 to the Orinda exit and turn north on Camino Pablo, which becomes San Pablo Dam Road. Proceed north on San Pablo Dam Road, past the San Pablo Dam Recreation Area entrance, for about one mile to the Kennedy Grove entrance.
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Click HERE for public transit information.