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Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is an ecological jewel. The native plant community here is found nowhere else in the East Bay. It represents a relic plant association found only in certain areas along California's coast where ideal soil and climatic conditions exist.
The vegetation association of Huckleberry Preserve finds its roots in past climates and geologic history. The plants originated in the distant past along the southern coast of California when the climate was moister and tempered by the cool coastal fog. Today, similar vegetation is found on the islands off the Santa Barbara coast and in isolated pockets on the mainland coast from Point Conception to Montara Mountain, south of San Francisco.
The rock strata exposed in the preserve were laid down in a deep ocean basin and contain the remains of microscopic diatoms and radiolaria. Through time these beds have been subjected to uplift and folding and stand exposed as hard, brittle bands of interbedded chert and shale. The resulting soil is very low in nutritional value and favors pioneering chaparral species that tolerate harshness and colonize the most sterile, rocky knolls. The soils are well drained at the surface, but the fractured and bedded rocks below hold water for deep roots. Although the barrens seem superficially dry at the surface, these sites are actually relatively moist. Being directly across from the Golden Gate, the barrens receive ample summer fog; northerly exposure is isolated from the sun; and on the crest of the Berkeley Hills, the rainfall is sufficient.
In the absence of fire, leaf litter has been deposited in great quantities, and the soil has become rich and deep. Live oaks and bay laurels have gradually moved into the chaparral areas to shade out the chamise and manzanitas. This plant succession is a natural part of the evolution of California's landscape.
Huckleberry Preserve has a year-round display of blossoming plants, many rare to the East Bay. As you stroll through the 241-acre preserve, stop periodically and reflect on your sense of place, for here you can experience an ancient slice of time.
To Reach The Park
The preserve is not accessible to wheelchair users at this time.
Huckleberry self-guided nature path, a 1.7-mile loop, traverses a wide variety of terrain and is maintained to minimum standards. The path descends into a mature bay forest, follows the contour for about half a mile, and then ascends to the botanically rich upper trail. For a less strenuous walk, stay on the upper trail-you will still encounter most of the stops on the self-guided tour.
Because of the fragile nature of Huckleberry Preserve, dogs, bicycles, and horses are prohibited, except that dogs and horses are allowed on the Skyline National Trail. Jogging is discouraged.