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Tilden is a regional park in the hills of Berkeley, California covering 2,077 acres of preserved land. It was named for Charles Lee Tilden, first president of the Park District Board of Directors. It's open everyday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Parking is free.

There are miles and miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, several lakes, a ton of recreational and picnic areas, campsites and playgrounds. I've been going to this park since I was born. It is a pretty neat place.

Some interesting places to visit at Tilden:

The Little Farm - I spent a lot of time here as a young kid. The farm has cows, pigs, goats, ducks, geese, sheep and donkeys which you can pet and feed. Be careful with the cows though; they slobber quite a bit. There's a rabbit hutch, but the bunnies are unpettable. Every now and then I see a chinchilla in one of the hutches. They've got chickens as well, which is really cool because they hatch them in an incubator inside the little red barn where you can see all the eggs in their heated nests. If you come along at the right time, you can watch a chick poking its way out into the world.

Environmental Education Center - This is down the hill from the little farm. It's a little museum designed to teach stuff about the natural history of the area. There are interactive exhibits. Sometimes instructors bring out fossils or snakes and other indigenous creatures for children to touch and learn about. There's a huge stuffed Komodo Dragon in here that used to scare the bejeezus out of me as a kid. There used to be a beehive that opened into a field in back of the museum. On the inside, a wall of the hive was made of a glass window so you could see the inside of the honeycomb and witness all the inner workings of bee life. I'm not sure if the hive is still there.

Pony Rides - If I remember correctly, the pony rides cost a dollar. The ponies are hooked up to a turnstile and they walk about in a circle all day long. Its quite depressing actually, if you think about it. I used to fantasize about breaking the ponies loose from their pens and freeing them all from oppression.

Lake Anza - A semi-clear lake where you can swim and fish or just sun on the sand. There's a snack bar and 'bath house.' This one's a popular spot for school field trips. There is also a separate area for adults to swim in.

Botanical Gardens - This houses the largest collection of California native plants. Many of them rare or endangered. Steer clear of here if you've got allergies.

Other attractions at Tilden include an antique hand-carved carousel (it still works, too), 18 hole golf course, the Brazil building (from the Brazilian exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair), and a little steam train that'll tote people around some scenic areas.

More info (phone numbers, programs, driving directions, etc.) can be found at www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.htm

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