Walking Waterhoods: Sausal Creek - Palo Seco

Explore the headwaters of Sausal Creek

Walking Waterhoods: Sausal Creek - Palo Seco

Oakland, California 94607, United States

Created By: Wholly H2O

Tour Information

Enjoy this beautiful walk through Joaquin Miller Park exploring the nature and history of one of the Sausal Creek headwaters, Palo Seco Creek.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

You might notice here a small alder tree (Alnus rubra) growing close to the trail. Alders are used in ecological restoration since their nitrogen-fixing bacteria improves soil quality. Their roots sometimes wrap around each other before plu... Read more
Keep an eye out here for tiny, brown songbirds fluttering in the low branches. Well camouflaged, California towhees (Melozone crissalis) forage, nest, and sing in the shrubbery. Their even brown color boasts a splash of rust along their tai... Read more
One of the largest oaks in North America, the valley oak (Quercus lobata) is a common deciduous tree found throughout the East Bay and often seen in residential areas. This area was once a vast oak woodland, inhabited by the Ohlone people f... Read more
  Owned and operated by the city of Oakland, Joaquin Miller Park is a large open space named for California writer and poet, Joaquin Miller. Miller bought the land in the late 1800s, and lived here at the Joaquin Miller house (which has si... Read more
Sausal Creek may have been a transitional zone between Huichin and Jalquin Ohlone tribelets. Regardless, whichever group had villages up and down the creek, transitioning from one to the other dpenedent on season and what foods were abundan... Read more
  Defunct pipes such as this one appear at several points along the Palo Saco trail. They were built to assist with excess water runoff, but because of natural changes in the landscape such vegetation loss and erosion, these pipes were no ... Read more
  Look up! The coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), aka the tallest living thing in the world is standing just above your head! A long-living evergreen, coast redwoods regenerate through seeds, with their seeds and pollen being located on... Read more
The Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a common and well-known evergreen fern native to this area. Sword ferns are found in the wild and in gardens, growing most abundantly in undisturbed, old-growth forests. Western sword ferns ar... Read more
  Flashing across streams in electric blue bursts, vivid dancers (Argia vivida) can be found hanging around spring-fed streams in arid/semi-arid regions, feasting on a wide variety of aquatic insects. These small damselflies boast bright b... Read more
Annaphila diva is a little day-flying moth that flies in the spring. It has short and wide wings, black forewings with a white C-shape spot, and pale yellow and black hindwings. It is found in the western part of Pacific Northwest near cree... Read more
  Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla) is a small, yellow and green bird native to North America. The SF Bay Area is part of the Wilson’s Warbler’s winter range, and the Pacific coast populations even have the brightest foreheads an... Read more
As early as the 1820s, the Dimond Canyon region was given by the Spanish occupiers to the Peralta family, and after some ten years, the San Antonio region of the canyon became part of Antonio Maria Peralta’s Asset. This portion of the can... Read more
When the pink and white petals of milkmaid flowers (Cardamine californica) begin to unfurl, spring in the Bay is on the horizon! Milkmaids are a flowering plant of the Brassicaceae family, and are typically one of the first flowers to bloom... Read more
It takes much more than you think to maintain this wonderful park. Friends of Joaquin Miller Park (FOJMP) is a group of hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, dog owners, cross country runners, historians, writers, and neighbors, who dedicat... Read more
Here a gnome sits atop a tree along the Palo Seco trail of Sausal Creek. Visitors to the trail can spot several gnomes perched amidst the foliage. Back in 2013, thousands of painted gnomes became began popping up all over Oakland's telephon... Read more
  Deep in the Bay Area’s wet forests, banana slugs (Ariolimax buttoni) can be found feeding on decomposed plant and animal matter. These spineless, single-lunged gastropods are considered one of the world’s slowest organisms, with a to... Read more
Looking north along this hillside, we can see a small crib retaining wall, consisting of interlocking wooden boxes filled with granular material which allow free drainage. Building on steep slopes can encourage erosion, so retaining walls l... Read more
Another step, another gnome. This gnome has made their home on top of a tree stump. 
  Just ahead, you’ll find the remains of Sinawik Cabin. Once a Girl Scout meeting place in the 1940s-1980s, all that’s left of the cabin now is its ruined foundation. In 2011, the Friends of Joaquin Miller Park asked the Oakland City C... Read more
Pictured here are two man-made signs saying, “Protect the land. Don’t cut through” and “No bike area.” These are the result of efforts by citizens to help preserve the trail and natural habitat. Taking frequent shortcuts between s... Read more
Douglas fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesiit) are native to western North America, but derive their familiar name from the Scottish botanist, David Douglas. The coastal variety is fast growing and long-lived, reaching over 300' tall and 500 ye... Read more
  With a pointed tail tip and hiding skills, the sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis)is an expert at avoiding its predators. Often found in the Bay Area, it is secretive, spending most of its life hidden away from human sight. These little s... Read more
Culvert pipes like this one keep the creek flowing despite impediments, such as pathways or roads. Culverts decrease erosion around the stream-pathway intersection while gravity keeps the flow of the water moving. Its galvanized metal is al... Read more
  Did you know the American robin (Turdus migratorius) is one of the 50 most common birds in the Bay Area? With a brick-red breast, gray head and wings, and a bright yellow bill, robins can be seen across the Bay year-round. Robins are ver... Read more
Western harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis) is one of the smallest rodent species in this area. They are primarily nocturnal, most active before midnight, on moonless or overcast nights. Found mostly in shrub lands and grasslands, thei... Read more
Checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas chalcedona) feature orange, white, and black "checkered" wings. Common around the west coast of California, in the Coast Range and the Sierra foothills, checkerspot larvae vary in color at different locat... Read more
  The beautiful giant wakerobin (Trillium chloropetalum) is a perennial plant native to California, usually found thriving among redwood or other forests. It grows locally, as well as throughout the coastal ranges of California and the Sie... Read more
The Hights [sic] was the 52-acre estate of Joaquin Miller, and is now part of Joaquin Miller Park. The land was purchased by Oakland in 1919 to become a new city park. That was later merged with Sequoia Park to become the Joaquin Miller Par... Read more
Pale Beauty (Campaea perlata), is a nocturnal moth of very light pale green. The adult can be found in woods and woodlands, both wild and developed, where host trees exist. Females, who are usually larger than males, lay a clutch of round, ... Read more


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