One of Oakland’s most beautiful places is tucked in the woods next to the Warren Freeway at Carson Street: the casting pond complex of McCrea Memorial Park, along Lion Creek. Entering the park took my breath away the first time I visited.
Lion Creek leaves the grounds of Holy Names University and runs in a steep gorge behind Elinora Avenue, evading the freeway for a short stretch that includes the park. Sulfur Mine creek joins it at the south end, and the combined stream enters a culvert beneath the freeway, where Horseshoe Creek joins it, and runs to the Mills College campus.
This part of the streambed is highly engineered. The 1947 topo map shows an ordinary stream valley here with an intermittent stream indicated, so the wide glade for the ponds was built and the stream shunted aside. Farther downstream are some empty ponds whose purpose I don’t know; perhaps one of you does.
The woods have made the area their own. This was once part of Leona Heights Park, which was cut in half by the freeway, and a pedestrian bridge that may be Oakland’s least-used one connects the two sides.