October 12, 2022

7 Arthritis-Friendly East Bay Hikes

Don’t let your arthritis stop you from doing what you love! Enjoy nature and time outside with these 7 joint-friendly hikes in California’s East Bay.

The pain, stiffness, and mobility limitations that often accompany arthritis can make it hard for us to do the things we love, like going hiking and enjoying time in nature. Luckily though, just because you have arthritis doesn’t mean you have to abandon the outdoors! There are many ways you can still soak up the many benefits of nature for both your arthritis and full-scope wellness.

With proper protection and support, there are many ways to enjoy the crisp fresh air and beauties of nature without worrying about worsening our arthritis. In fact, research suggests that nature tends to positively affect our wellbeing, often helping to reduce anger, pain, anxiety, and stress by promoting a relaxing and restorative state.

General Tips Before You Head Out 

With arthritis, it’s essential to take the time to properly warm up your joints. Apply heat for up to 20 minutes to help reduce stiffness before your walk. Afterwards you can ice your joints for up to 20 minutes to help reduce any swelling and inflammation.

When finding trails, aim for flat, paved paths to avoid putting extra pressure on your joints. Try not to push it, and make sure to end your walk before you begin feeling a strain on your joints. It’s better to stop early than to overdo it and be forced to recover for days to weeks.

A final tip — stay vigilant of your surroundings and keep an eye out for divots or potholes that could catch your ankles or cause a stumble.

7 East Bay Hikes For You to Explore

#1 Lake Temescal Loop Trail

Location: Oakland, CA
Est. Time: 20-45 min.
Length: 1.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 95 ft.

This 1.1-mile loop trail near Oakland, California is generally considered an easy and relaxing stroll. The loop is popular for bird-watching, fishing, and walking, but you can still find a peaceful slice of solitude if you head out in the early morning or evening. 

Enjoy the company of Canadian geese, cormorants, ducks, and kingfishers alongside beautiful lilies and wild onions that blossom on the west edge of the lake in the spring. Take the Oak Bay Trail, and you’ll go on a short climb at the halfway point that takes you to a bench overlooking the hills. The trail is open year-round and dogs are welcome, though they must be leashed.

Learn more about the Lake Temescal Loop Trail with Alltrails >>

#2 Jewel Lake

Location: Berkeley, CA
Est. Time: 13-30 min.
Length: 0.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 22 ft.

The Jewel Lake trail is a short and easy route down a dirt path from Tilden Little Farm to Jewel Lake. This trail is open all year and is fairly popular for its accessibility, and you’ll likely run into other nature lovers on a quick excursion. You may be lucky and spot some deer, turtles, or turkeys! If you have a dog, you’ll have to leave them at home for this one as dogs aren’t allowed on the trail.

Learn more about the Jewel Lake Trail with Alltrails >>

Photo by: Coro. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

#3 Berkeley Aquatic Park Loop

Location: Berkeley, CA
Est. Time: 40-60 min.
Length: 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 13 ft.

If you want to spend more time outdoors, try the Berkeley Aquatic Park Loop Hike. While still considered easy on the joints with a flat and gentle trail, this hike takes closer to 40 minutes. This trail is commonly used for paddle sports, bird-watching, and road-biking and is near Caesar Chavez Park, where you can enjoy local amenities and spot a kite or two in the sky if you’re lucky. This trail is open year-round, and dogs are welcome as long as they’re on a leash.

Learn more about the Berkeley Aquatic Park loop with Alltrails >>

#4 Cesar Chavez Park Loop trail

Location: Albany, CA
Est. Time: 27-45 min.
Length: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 26 ft.

Photo by: Nathan Tsang Cesar Chavez Park trail.

This smooth and easy loop trail along the water offers a peaceful and enjoyable stroll that’s easy on the joints. The path is paved, but there are alternate dirt paths nearby if you prefer. This area is also popular for fishing, road biking, and hiking, so you may encounter others along your walk. This trail is open year-round, and dogs are allowed on leash throughout the park, though there may be some areas where you can let your furry friend off-leash.

Learn more about the Caesar Chavez Park Loop trail with Alltrails >>

Photo by: E.J. Nella Ferry Point Path, San Francisco Bay Trail and Ferry Point Loop Trail

#5 Ferry Point Path, Ferry Point Loop Trail, San Francisco Bay trail

Location: Richmond, CA
Est. Time: 30-55 min.
Length: 1.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 39 ft.

For stunning views of San Francisco Bay, try the Ferry Point Loop Trail. With an incline grade of mostly gentle, this trail is almost entirely paved and flat and makes for an easy and beautiful stroll. The trail is also popular for bird-watching, running, and biking, but if you come in the early morning or evening hours, you can likely find a slice of solitude just for you. This trail is open year-round. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Learn more about the Ferry Point Loop Trail with Alltrails >>

#6 Ohlone Greenway trail

Location: Berkeley, CA
Est. Time: Your Choice!
Length: <10.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 246 ft.

While long, this path offers an entirely paved, flat walk following next to the BART tracks. While you can do the full 10.7-mile out-and-back trail, which takes around 3.5 hours, we recommend breaking this walk up into shorter bits to protect your joints. At night, your path is easily lit due to its closeness to the train. You will need to cross several roads on this trail, so please be watchful and take care of yourself. This trail is open year-round and allows dogs on leash.

Learn more about the Ohlone Greenway trail with Alltrails >>

Photo by: Wikiwand. License: CC BY-SA 4.0

#7 San Francisco Bay Trail — Emeryville to Richmond Inner Harbor

Location: Emeryville, CA
Est. Time: Your Choice!
Length: <9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 88 ft.

The San Francisco Bay trail is another long walk that can be divided into shorter bits for more enjoyable and joint-friendly walks. Along this path, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais, not to mention beautiful natural scenery. This trail is popular with bird-watching, fishing, and walking, so you’ll likely encounter some other folks enjoying the fresh air as well. 

Learn more about the San Francisco Bay Trail on Alltrails >>

What are some of your favorite trails in the bay area and east bay? Drop a comment to let us know!

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