We’re grateful to be close to so much outdoor goodness in the Oakland Hills! With all the open space parks nearby, it’s difficult to figure out where Joaquin Miller Park ends and Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park begins. The easiest way to get into Joaquin Miller is to park on Joaquin Miller Road, directly in front of The Cascade Fountains. You’ll definitely see the stairs (pictured below) from the street.
When we visited, the fountains were not “cascading.” But nonetheless we had fun hiking the hundreds of stairs to get to the top. It took a bit of time with my very confident almost two year old chanting “I do it myself” all the way to the top. Needless to say the stair trek was worth it, because WOW the views are spectacular.
The highlights of Joaquin Miller Park
- Stellar views: not just from the top of the stairs, but also on some of the higher trails
- Lizards and hummingbirds: plentiful lizards to watch and chase
- Many flat and wide trails: making hiking more accessible for little legs
- Not much poison oak: unique for this area
- Shade: easy to find shaded trails and picnic spots like Robin Perry Field
- Accessibility: easy to find street parking and get straight into the park
- You can get a Digital Junior Ranger Badge: print out a self-guided booklet that provides fun, hands-on activities that kids can complete while exploring Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park!
The not so pleasant things at Joaquin Miller Park
- Defacement of the park: lots of graffiti through the park
- Broken glass: on trails and bottom of the Cascade Fountains
- Trash: lots of it, not in trash cans 🙁
- Reflection pools: not in operation
- No fences off high speed Joaquin Miller road: can cause anxiety with multiple kids when playing by the lower fountains
Pro tip: During SIP, many amenities such as trash and bathrooms are not currently available. So plan to use the bathroom before you leave home, and leave the park cleaner than you found it. My girls and I are trying to make a habit of bringing a trash bag to the parks we visit to help clean up where we can.
We hope to return to Joaquin Miller Park when the Cascade Fountains are in full force, so we can enjoy the waterfalls and reflection pond.
Joaquin Miller Playground Features
Unique Features: Separate tot area & 4 swings. While not unique, this simple playground has everything we need for a small family playground visit.
Fenced in? Mostly. Through the entrance to the playground is not gated
Surfaces: Bouncy flat surface with mulch and leaves surrounding the playground
Lunch tables & seating: No tables. There are 4 benches and 1 large log for seating in the playground area.
Parking: Street parking is easy to find, though Joaquin Miller Road is high speed, so we just make sure to get out on passenger side and stay close so nobody accidently wanders on the busy street.
Shade: Ample shade to be found both by playground and throughout the trails.
Covid-19 Restricted Occupancy: Use your best judgement.
Pros: This classic play structure, though older is still nicely maintained. My girls revel in its simplicity and we love being surrounded by towering redwoods and eucalyptus trees.
Cons: As mentioned above, the trash sometimes doesn’t make it in the bins, and parking on a busy street can be intimidating.
The Bottom Line on Joaquin Miller Park & Playground
This is a playground we visit regularly, not only because it’s close to our home, but also because it’s usually not too crowded. It’s not an intimidating playground, but can keep my two- and five-year olds entertained for a couple hours. If you grow tired of the playground, the surrounding trails have lots of lizards to chase and gorgeous views to take in.