Tilden Nature Area

Tilden Nature Area is a 2,079-acre wildlife and nature preserve that’s just minutes from Berkeley’s downtown district. You can hike Tilden’s trails, swim at Lake Anza, visit the Botanic Garden, or play a round of golf.

The Environmental Education Center, next to the Little Farm, offers ecology classes for kids. Other attractions include a carousel and the golf course. You can return to our home page.


The 10-acre Botanic Garden at Tilden holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of California native plants. It also houses the Environmental Education Center and the Little Farm, which features shorthorn cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits, and chickens.

The 740-acre preserve’s 10 miles of hiking trails range from leisurely boardwalks through the woods to vigorous climbs up Wildcat Peak for panoramic San Francisco Bay views. Its historic Jewel Lake is a tranquil spot to set up a picnic and watch wildlife.

The park became a family destination in the post-war period with the addition of a merry-go-round, model airplane field, and South Gate & Pacific Railway. UC Berkeley students helped establish the park in 1936, and later, Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration crews built much of its early infrastructure.

Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden, tucked into Wildcat Canyon in the north Berkeley Hills, is devoted to California’s native plants. Its 10-acre landscapes create gorgeous scenery that covers the state’s many botanical regions—from Southern California deserts to Pacific rain forests.

The garden has one of the most comprehensive collections of California plants in existence. Tours are available in the visitor center (wheelchair accessible) and at other times.

Next to the Botanic Garden is a working farm, the Little Farm, where kids love to feed goats, sheep, chickens, and rabbits. Bring some lettuce and celery and get up close and personal. It’s free! A great alternative to the zoo.

Lake Anza

A favorite getaway just over the hill from Berkeley, Lake Anza features a sandy beach and a natural spring-fed swimming area. It is open during the swimming season and lifeguards are on duty.

While it is still too warm to swim in the lake right now, the squishy coating of Azolla fern that is covering its surface (which resembles an algae bloom) makes for an interesting photo opportunity.

The northern portion of Tilden Nature Area offers a wide variety of hiking trails, including a scenic path and boardwalk around Jewel Lake and a hike to Wildcat Peak. The park’s Environmental Education Center is also a great place for kids to learn about wildlife and nature. Browse around this site.


Tilden’s Herschell Spillman merry-go-round, built in 1911, is one of the few antique menagerie carousels still operating in the United States. The hand-carved and beautifully painted wooden carousel animals are accompanied by calliope-style music that will make any kid’s heart sing.

Kids also enjoy the Little Farm and Environmental Education Center where they can learn about wildlife, nature, and conservation while having fun. The park also features hiking trails, some of which offer scenic views and are suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

The Nimitz Way Trail from Inspiration Point offers a family-friendly hike with sweeping East Bay views. Be sure to bring water and leave your dog on a leash at all times.


A picnic is a perfect way to enjoy a day at the park. Bring your own food or pick up something from one of Berkeley’s local restaurants and independent grocery stores. Then spread a blanket in one of the many picnic areas. Just don’t forget to dispose of your trash. Future picnickers and Tilden’s raccoon population will thank you.

Tilden Regional Park is a place of diverse possibilities, from hiking trails to a merry-go-round. Besides its wilderness areas, it contains developed features like the botanical garden, a golf course, a swimming lake (Lake Anza), and a Little Farm, where children can coo over heritage breeds of livestock.


Tilden’s 10 miles of hiking trails lead to a variety of landscapes, from grassy meadows to oak and eucalyptus forests. The trail and boardwalk around Jewel Lake, a former reservoir, is particularly peaceful and provides excellent wildlife viewing.

Other park attractions include the Botanic Garden, golf course, merry-go-round, and Brazilian Room. Children can swim at Lake Anza, visit the Little Farm and its animals, play at the playground, or ride the carousel. The Environmental Education Center offers educational programs for all ages. Browse the next article.


Driving directions from Century Pyramid to Tilden Nature Area

Driving directions from Tilden Nature Area to John Muir National Historic Site