Take a Hike to High ‘C’

By STEVE FINACOM Special to the Planet
Friday September 12, 2003

For anyone looking for a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning, the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association invites ones and all to join in a climb up historic Charter Hill behind the UC campus. 

Hikers will learn about a century of Berkeley history while enjoying spectacular views and a late summer’s day in the Berkeley Hills. 

I’ll be leading the walk in my role as a local historian, starting at 10 a.m. Our walk starts on the UC campus with a stroll through a former 19th century residential neighborhood, including a home visited by Jack London. 

Next stop is the Greek Theatre, 100 years old this month, where tourgoers will learn about the history of Berkeley’s first great performance space and, in particular, the memorial marble chairs dedicated to figures from Berkeley’s past, from Phoebe Hearst to Frank Norris. 

The walk then climbs along the historic “Big C Trail” route overlooking Memorial Stadium and Strawberry Canyon and, finally, reaches the Big “C” itself, built as a symbol of student unity in 1905; the giant concrete letter overlooking Berkeley is the oldest feature of its type in the Western American landscape. 

Along the way we’ll learn about past uses of the Berkeley Hills from student hijinks to Sierra Club Easter services. 

The tour is free and no reservations are required. Gather by 10 a.m. sharp in the plaza west of Wurster Hall on the UC Campus. Look for the triangular wooden sculpture. 

Bring water and good climbing shoes. The walk goes up a steep dirt trail, and quickly gains 400 feet in elevation. The walk will last two to three hours. It is not wheelchair accessible. 

Parking is on your own. The UC Foothill Parking Lot ($7 public parking) is closest to the end of the walk. Drive up Hearst Avenue to above Gayley and follow the signs to the lot entrance on the right, double--checking the signs to avoid parking in restricted spaces. 

For more information on this and the other hikes offered by the Berkeley Path Wanderers—including a selection of self-guided tours—see their Web site: www.internettime.com/bpwa/.