This is my favorite 30-35 mile ride in the East Bay, and spring and fall are the times to see the colors really pop. Make your way up and out of Berkeley on Spruce and head straight on Wildcat Canyon to enter the majestic Tilden park, when you hit the four way intersection with Grizzly Peak Blvd. You'll spin past Inspiration Point and head down a dreamy descent to the intersection with San Pablo Dam Rd. Turn left there and stay on this road for just over 5 miles.
At the light for Castro Ranch Dr, turn right. Keep an eye out for rough roads for a small stretch before you end up turning right on Alhambra Valley Road (the intersection pictured). You'll start to see painted descriptions on the road that you are officially on the 'Three Bears Route'.
They arrive at your front wheel in the order of Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear; with the size of the bear referencing just how big each climb will seem.
After making right on Bear Creek Road (you'll be entering the Briones Regional Reserve), you're well on your way among the bears.
Once back up at the intersection with San Pablo Dam Rd, be sure to head straight back up Wildcat Canyon Road. It's a steady three and half mile climb to get back up to Inspiration Point, where this time- you deserve a break and a moment to soak up the scenery.
Make your way back through Tilden, retracing your steps from where you came and be sure to swing by Cheeseboard on Shattuck for a slice or two to celebrate your triumphant return.
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Waking Up in Wildcat Canyon
Early morning rides - all year round - are a favorite of East Bay cyclists and if you want to see them out en force, you'll head to the Berkeley Hills where this little ride through Wildcat Canyon -at the northwest entrance to the park - is a local two-wheeled haunt. The sunrise is especially fantastic here as you get the first shots of light coming over the hills, traffic is non-existent, and the forest is just stirring.
Starting at any point along Spruce Street in Berkeley will wind you up and into the hills. Up, up, up into the clouds and past a water treatment plant on your right, you'll arrive at a four-way-intersection where Spruce Street turns into Wildcat Canyon as you proceed straight. (To the left you'll see signs for 'Little Farm'. Stay straight!)
From there, the road will wind you into Tilden Regional Park where you can choose your own cycling adventure. Wildcat Canyon will wind all the way to the backside of Tilden for a total of roughly 5 miles of riding.