From the Oakland flats we see the Oakland hills, and from the hills we see the world—at least the Bay area, and on a good day the Sierra—but Oakland’s foothills offer a wealth of everyday, internal views. The foothills are dissected by stream valleys, each one defining its own set of divides, mini-ranges and rises. The rocky eminence underlying Piedmont is drained by a set of lesser creeks that enter Lake Merritt’s east end in the Grand Lake district. They have carved at least five small ridges between them. The streambeds hold major artery streets: Grand Avenue, Lakeshore Avenue, Mandana Boulevard, Trestle Glen Road. If you traverse this land across the grain, without the help of motors, the small ridges turn into challenges, each one with a well-earned set of views.
Jean Street rises 150 feet above the Rose Garden, at the northern edge of the Grand Lake basin. From here we see across Pleasant Valley Creek to the next ridge, which is almost 50 feet higher. Because Warfield Avenue runs up its spine, I’ll call it Warfield Ridge. On the left is the higher ground of Piedmont that overlooks Dimond Canyon, and on the skyline is the Oakland Hills. When atmospheric conditions are right, each separate ridge is crisply outlined by its own shade of haze, and what might seem an undifferentiated scene takes on charming depth.