Above: Yarrow, a drought-tolerant native wildflower, blooming along the Santa Fe Right of Way regional trail.

Below: Years of volunteer work, rain or shine, controlled weeds and planted these beds.

Santa Fe Right-of-Way

The Santa Fe Right of Way started as the narrow-gauge California & Nevada Railway in the 1880s. Intended to reach the Colorado mines, it never got past Orinda. But in the early 20th Century, the Santa Fe system took over the line and used it for passenger and rail service to Oakland, competing with the Union Pacific rails along the shoreline. Dwindling rail traffic eventually doomed the line, which shut down in the 1970s. Much of it was taken over by BART. The railroad eventually gave most of the unused portions (West Street on many maps) to the City of Berkeley, which began gradually converting the North Berkeley segments to pedestrian-bicycle path, joining the Ohlone Greenway pedestrian-bicycle route stretching into Richmond.

By 2006, the first path segment, from University Avenue to Delaware, had been built. But it was badly neglected, drawing litter and vandalism. Neighbors were complaining. A fence remained farther north at Lincoln Street. F5C and Berkeley Path Wanderers worked together to clean up and maintain the trail on both sides of the fence, and persuaded neighbors to allow the fence to be opened in 2007. 

In 2008, Friends of Five Creeks' volunteers began removing tall weeds and planting drought-tolerant, pollinator-friendly natives in the two blocks between Berkeley Way and Delaware. Besides serving as a demonstration of environmentally friendly planting techniques, the landscaping greatly reduced litter and vandalism along the trail. The city finally paved the northern connection in 2012, and opened the connection south to Strawberry Creek Park in 2014.

F5C no longer maintains this project, and some plantings have been destroyed by mowing and herbicides applied on adjacent private property. Our efforts work paid off as an important step leading to acceptance and final construction of this popular, well used rails-to-trails project. Scroll down for a slide show.

Directions

The Santa Fe Right of Way runs north-south, parallel to and between Acton and Chestnut.It can be reached from any cross street or from University Avenue. AC Transit 51B on University stops at its south end (look for the big blue gate and the mid-block crossing light). 

Headed south on the Ohlone Greenway by bicycle or on foot, the junction is beyond Cedar Street. Where the Ohlone Greenway angles east toward the BART station, continue straight across the basketball and volleyball courts.