Park It by Ned MacKay: Halloween

Halloween comes on Thursday, Oct. 31 this year. In anticipation, the East Bay Regional Parks are staging several Halloween-themed programs leading up to it.

At Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, it all starts with a Halloween edition of Discovery Days, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26 and 27. This is a family-oriented program of nature exploration and craft making. Come at 11 a.m. either day to meet some creepy crawlers.

And Coyote Hills also plans a Halloween twilight hike from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. Visitors can don their costumes and roam Coyote Hills in search of goblins, witches and ghosts, while learning about the ancient origins and modern traditions of Halloween. Then return to the start for treats and a campfire story.

Coyote Hills is located at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the Halloween programs are free. Call 510-544-3220.

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Nearby Ardenwood Historic Farm offers the Haunted Railroad, a family-friendly, non-scary train ride through the woods, during which live actors portray silly characters.

Designed for families with children under 12, the Haunted Railroad will run at various times starting at 7 p.m. on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 25 through 27. It’s a fund-raiser for the nonprofit Railroad Museum at Ardenwood.

Tickets can be purchased online at Search for “Haunted Train.” The cost is $12 for ages three and up, free for kids two and under. One caveat: check online before attending, the Haunted Railroad is popular and many times are already sold out.

Ardenwood is at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84 in Fremont. Call 510-544-2797

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“All treat, no tricks” is the promise of an All Hallows Hike from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27 at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County.

Naturalist Ashley Adams will lead a family-friendly trek in search of some not-so-creepy Halloween creatures.

Sunol Wilderness is located at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. Meet at the visitor center. Call 510-544-3249.

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Out at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, visitors can make their own Delta mammal masks during a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, then join in a Halloween parade to show off their costumes.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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They aren’t specific to Halloween, but a couple of interesting programs are coming soon at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

“Wild Dogs of Black Diamond” is from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The wild dogs are our seldom-seen park companions: coyotes and foxes.

Then from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27, join the naturalist to learn about some of the park’s not-so-creepy critters and make a craft to take home. The schedule calls for snakes at noon, bats at 1 p.m., owls at 2 p.m. and tarantulas at 3 p.m.

Both programs meet in Black Diamond’s upper parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. Black Diamond has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is staffed; the programs are free. Call 510-544-2750.

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And there’s more. Naturalist Susan Ramos plans two night hikes in search of nocturnal animals, one hike for adults and one for families.

The hike for adults is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25 at Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Meet at the Bort Meadows trailhead on Redwood Road between Oakland and Castro Valley.

The family hike is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Redwood Regional Park. Meet at Canyon Meadow, which is at the end of the road leading into the park from Redwood Road in Oakland.

For either hike, bring a small flashlight and dress warm. There are restrooms about a quarter-mile from each trailhead.

For more information on either hike, call 510-544-3187.

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There are all sorts of non-scary activities to enjoy in the regional parks. Check the park district website, But however you spend it, have a safe and happy Halloween.

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