Park It by Ned MacKay: Don’t forget the water

As the dog days of summer approach, it’s worth repeating some advice: bring lots of water when you visit the regional parks and other open spaces.

In the regional parks, there generally are not sources of drinking water once you have left the trailheads and picnic areas. And August heat can sneak up on you, if you aren’t careful and don’t drink water often.

Those hydration packs with drinking tubes are really convenient. I never carried one until a recent trip, but have found that they work well to encourage regular water intake. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, too, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

If you’re looking for cooler places to hike on hot summer days, Point Pinole in Richmond is always a good bet, since it’s right on San Pablo Bay. Another shady place is Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. Farther inland, walk the Old Stage Road at Castle Rock and Diablo Foothills regional parklands in Walnut Creek.

Or time your hike for the morning hours, before the heat of the day arrives.

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Speaking of early morning activities, there’s a grunion search scheduled for 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Aug. 12 at Crown Beach in Alameda.

This is not a joke. Grunions are fish that spawn on sandy beaches during full and new moon nights. Normally this is past park curfew on Crown Beach, but naturalist Susan Ramos will lead the search for spawning grunion.

The program is free, but registration is required, and children must have adult participation.

For registration and information, call 888-327-2757, select option 2 and refer to program 21784

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Tule, a plant used extensively by the Ohlone Indians, is the focus of a couple of programs at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, both with naturalist Trail Gail Broesder.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5, Gail will help participants make a berry gathering basket from tule reed, then the group will venture into the Nature Area to test how well the baskets work.

The program is for ages eight and older, there’s a fee of $5 ($7 for non-Park District residents), and registration is required.

For registration and information, call 888-327-2757, select option 2 and refer to program 21584.

Then from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. the same day, Gail will show visitors how to make a miniature tule reed boat, then go to a nearby pond to test whether it floats. This program is free of charge.

Both programs meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center at the north end of Central Park Drive. Call 510-544-2233 for information.

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Naturalist Francis Mendoza will lead an easy two-mile walk in search of waterfowl at Hayward Regional Shoreline from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.

The walk is for ages 12 and older. Wear layers, sunscreen and bring water. Meet at the west end of West Winton Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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The Over-the-Hills Gang is an informal group of hikers ages 55 and older interested in nature study, fitness and local history.

The gang will explore Leona Canyon in Oakland from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 with Trail Gail as guide.

Meet at the Canyon Oaks staging area off Keller Avenue. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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You can learn what animals are roaming Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley without seeing the animals themselves.

The naturalists will help you discover evidence of the critters’ presence in a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.

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

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There’s always something to do in the regional parks. For a complete schedule, check out the website,

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