Named after the poet, Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland belongs in a sonnet about small wonders. But it also may belong in a classic ghost story! This unassuming park is said to be haunted by a woman who only appears in its woods on foggy nights, never in the daytime. Tragically, she died in a roadside accident and to this day wanders the beautiful woods here. Urban legend has it that a hut was built somewhere in the park to house her, but nobody seems to be able to find it.
We don’t recommend taking your chances by going to the park at night (besides, it’s closed after dark), but you can appreciate the “spirit” of the woods in different way during the day! Fall colors are beautiful here. Take in the highlights on a one-hour hike that starts on the Sunset Trail (not Sunset Loop Trail), paralleling Palo Seco Creek. (Oaks and big leaf maples churn out hues of orange, gold, and auburn as autumn stretches onward.) Before long you’ll be ascending Chaparral Trail through a meandering shaded canyon with a few peek-a-boo views of the bay.
Hook onto Sequoia-Bayview Trail and top out at the horse arena, where there’s a cluster of picnic tables. From here, veer onto the quiet Fern Ravine Trail (which crosses over Sequoia-Bayview); this section follows its namesake creek through redwoods, cypress, and eucalyptus as it descends the canyon. Connect back on the Sunset Loop Trail and Sunset Trail to finish this route. That’s Joaquin the walk!
From Hwy. 13 in Oakland, exit Joaquin Miller Rd./Lincoln Ave. Take Joaquin Miller Rd. for 1 mile and turn left on Sanborn Dr. Park near the Joaquin Miller Park ranger station. Walk 100 feet past the yellow gate and turn right on the trail pointing “To Sunset Trail.” Veer left onto the Sunset Trail (not Sunset Loop Trail) to begin the hike. Here’s a map of the park. Dog-friendly!