Knowland Park’s Layout
Knowland Park runs roughly from east to west, from Interstate 580 to Skyline Road, in southeast Oakland. It is really two parks, eastern and western sections, divided by Golf Links Road. The Oakland Zoo and Arboretum occupies the Park’s western lowlands.
At the west end of the park, Golf Links runs to its north, with housing on the north side of the road. At Elysian Fields, it turns into the park, and has steep, heavily wooded hills on either side, until it leaves the park and joins Grass Valley, which runs to the south of the park, and has housing on its south side. It is not really practical to move directly between the two sections, by crossing Golf Links, due to the topography and vegetation. Also Arroyo Viejo creek flows alont Golf Links road for its entire length in the park, and its steep, narrow, wooded banks and bed make crossing very difficult.
The Park’s topography varies from low flatland on the west, to hills up to 750 feet above sea level at the east. There are both western and eastern highlands, from which spectacular views of the Bay and several bridges can be seen. Both parts offer good hiking, wildlife watching, and natural drainage.
Getting Into Knowland Park
It is difficult to get into the Park from the Zoo, because of the Zoo’s fencing. Some Zoo staffers seem not to realize they are in the park, so don’t count on them for accurate information. There are no signs or marked parking areas anywhere around it, except at the Zoo.
Entry into the western section can be had in two areas, from Golf Links Road on the north, and from Malcolm Avenue on the south. From Golf Links, there are several entrances, but all are narrow trails with no nearby parking, except for a fire road shown on maps as Venetia Road; there’s a small space off the road at Venetia. Expect steep climbs from any of these entrances.
Malcolm Ave. can be reached either from 106th at I-580, at its west end, or from Caloden, off Golf Links, at its east end. There are numerous short dead-end streets off the north side of Malcolm, and each has a small parking area and a fire-road gate that can easily be walked around. Streets toward the east are in the highlands, and provide the easiest access; they are Fallbrook, Elvessa, Ettrick, Lochard, and Cameron. Toward the west, the land slopes downhill.
Entry into the eastern section is very easy, from Skyline Blvd. about a quarter mile north of the sharp curve where it joins Grass Valley. Look for a large water tank on a knoll belonging to EBMUD. There are parking areas on either side of the knoll, as well as several small spots along Skyline. A fire road runs along the west side of Skyline for the full north-to-south length of the east side of the park, and beyond, to Keller Ave., where there is more parking.
Here is an interactive animated hiking trail map of western Knowland Park, created on the Everytrail website:
The Zoo’s expansion plans would occupy and fence off the highest part of the western section of the park. This area abuts neighborhoods on the south side, and has traditionally been freely accessible to other park users. The expansion area would become inaccessible, except by paid admission and under Zoo control. The expansion also would disrupt the natural contours of the hills with multi-story structures, including a gondola with 60 foot towers. It would disrupt the native plant and animal life, and cause light and noise pollution visible for great distances.
The loss of this area of rare beauty would be too great a price to pay for an expanded Zoo.
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