Whether you’re loading up a backpack for a long weekend or tying on a pair of Trail Gloves for a run in the country, there are many ways to enjoy this country’s hundreds and hundreds of hiking trails. That being said, today is for the trail runners out there, and brings us to the Golden State, right alongside the University of California Berkley. This area is home to the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail, where trail runners can enjoy a short, but challenging run through the rolling hills of the California countryside.
As far as trails go, the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail is not the longest, by far. The seven-mile dirt trail through some of California’s rolling countryside is an out-and-back trek that will take anywhere from one hour, to an hour and a half, to complete, depending on your pace and experience. The trail is open year-round—aside from one of the parking areas, which can be closed now and then—and rests at around 1,300 feet, which is common for the region.
Most runners will park at the east end of UC Berkley’s campus, near Memorial Stadium, and then run a short distance along Centennial Road until they reach the trailhead about a half mile up the road. If you’re able to park at the trailhead, it cuts roughly a mile off the trip. During the first mile or so, the trail climbs about 300 feet and brings you to the Connector, which is a steep slope bridging the lower and upper portions of Fire Trail. From here, you can enjoy a nice run for around five miles, until you reach the university’s Space Sciences Lab. Here, the trail will begin to climb another 400 feet, with sporadic steep segments to challenge you along the way.
With pines and redwoods towering overhead along the lower portion, and rolling hills with oaks populating the upper, the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail is a great way for any trail runner to enjoy a variety of terrain challenges. Students at the university enjoy the close proximity of the trail to campus, and visitors will enjoy the short, but rewarding, run the trail offers. However, if you’re not used to trail running, or haven’t tackled trails with steep changes in elevation before, the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail will offer a great challenge, which is really what every outdoor enthusiast yearns for in the first place.