Glenview walk (#23)

This is another path-and-stairways walk from Charles Fleming’s book Secret Stairs East Bay; his description of the homes and streets is good, but I’m here to talk about the geology you’ll see en route.

The walk starts on Park Boulevard, which is one of Oakland’s premier ridge routes, maybe its best. On its north is Indian Gulch, later known as Trestle Glen, and on its south is Dimond Canyon. Trestle Glen Creek is now culverted, although its waters still run free upstream in Piedmont. Dimond Canyon and points downstream, of course, feature Sausal Creek. The whole idea of Glenview the neighborhood is that from Park Boulevard you could overlook glens—secluded wooded stream valleys—on either side. (Such honesty in marketing may seem quaint today.) The walk route (created using gmap-pedometer) traverses stairs and pathways on the Trestle Glen side:

walk 23 route

Here’s the topography, courtesy Google Maps, with the photo stops marked as well as the bedrock line between the Piedmont block and the Pleistocene alluvial fan at Oakland’s heart. See the Oakland geologic map for context.

walk 23 map

The walk begins on Park Boulevard, going up the gentle slope of the remnant fan. I would love to see what’s beneath these homes, but how likely is that?

park boulevard

As you rise, the hills emerge as does the occasional vista. The Glenview really is the everything-view.

temple vista

At this point the walk leaves the spine of the fan and wanders the slopes and floor of Indian Gulch. The mature palms and lush vegetation combine with steep slopes (though not the insane slopes of the high hills) for a distinctive charm.

steep streets

Again, watch where the trees allow a peep through. Homeowners with their upper stories are privileged over streetwalkers in this respect.

downtown harbor view

On Elbert Street, a patch of rustic funk, emerges bedrock—just a prosaic Franciscan sandstone here. Perhaps more crops out along the power line through this neighborhood, but I was here to follow instructions and did not check.


The walk delivers us to the floor of Indian Gulch, long since vacated by its namesake indigenes, converted from a park (with trestle) and turned into a classic upper-middle-class residential district. The narrow road and steep-walled valley give it a uniquely intimate feel. Farther up the valley, what looks like real woods is just the hinterland of what appears to be Piedmont’s largest private lot.

trestle glen

The walk leaves the valley floor at the foot of Barrows Road. Higher up you begin to glimpse the high hills again above the densely settled slopes.

glen slopes

It appears to me that the bedrock portion of the stream valley is a bit steeper than the alluvial-fan part, but not by much. The transition between them is quite subtle. The fan sediments are well compacted and bound with firm clay.

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6 Responses to “Glenview walk (#23)”

  1. Frank Green Says:

    Fantastic little article, but too short. Not always sure where I was “walking”, but i know the area. Would be interesting to know what is exposed in backyards on the slopes of Indian Gulch. As I recall, one can see some of the geology behind the Glenview business district dropping down (with steps – or use to be steps – where the laundrymat is.

    This is obviously a start. Diamond Park and the trail up Sausal Creek to the golf course needs to be included. There is some good geology up there.

  2. Andrew Says:

    That set of steps is where the walk ends, right next to that little row of Tudor-style storefronts. It’s behind the lamppost in the first photo.

    Does anyone know of a map tool like gmap-pedometer that will let you go “offroad”? I wouldn’t mind the chore of drawing the walk routes, because as you say it helps make things clearer.

  3. Elisabeth Says:

    Fascinating, Andrew. I’d be v. interested in a geology hike up Sausal Canyon with you!

  4. Dave C. Says:


    You can go “offroad” on gmap-pedometer itself, by selecting “manually (straight lines)” instead of “automatically (for runners)” in the “Draw Route” options in the panel on the left. The best part about the feature is that you can switch back and forth as you go, so you can draw most of the route automatically, then go “offroad” when you want to draw a route through a park or a canyon, then switch back to the automatic option when you want to start following the street map again.

    If your “offroad” route is not a straight line, then you need to click on a series of points in order to approximate the path you took through the “offroad” area, but with a few mouse clicks you can usually get a fairly accurate estimation of the offroad part of the route.

    Or am I misunderstanding your question?

  5. Andrew Says:

    Thanks, Dave! Serves me right for not studying the controls more thoroughly.

  6. trio Says:

    Whoa! Very nice article. Thank you.

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