Knowland Park: Behind The Oakland Zoo (Cloudy With a Chance of Spotting Animals) - 510 Families
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Knowland Park: Behind The Oakland Zoo (Cloudy With a Chance of Spotting Animals)

Knowland Park Open Space is home to the Oakland Zoo, but there’s more to it. The walking paths lead to spectacular views of the Bay, and if you go at the right time, you can see into the Zoo through a back fence. Lucky hikers might catch a view of the bears!

Oakland realtor Dana Brook offered us the lowdown on this free outing which includes animal spotting and a tree swing.

kid on rope swing
photo: Dana Brook

“It’s a very short walk of five to ten minutes. Much of the path is gravel, so it’s not great for small wheeled strollers,” he advised us.

In the Chabot Park neighborhood, off of 580, a handful of streets that branch off of Malcolm Ave dead-end into Knowland Park Open Space. Be sure to respect the neighbors’ access to their driveways and park considerately. Try the end of Edgemont or Snowdown Avenue if you want to pick a street name to put into your GPS.

When you arrive, head down the hill towards the Zoo. You will see a small sign that says “public trail” as you approach the Zoo fence on your left. This is the path to stay on to go up to see the bears.

aerial map of knowland park in oakland
Google Maps Aerial View – Pin shows where the tree swing has been found

Our staffers add these tips:

  • The wolf feeding is typically around 10:30 am and you can see them frolicking by the back fences. Do not get too close to the fences! You’ll notice signs that suggest staying 20 feet away.
  • This is a popular dog-walking destination, so if you have a toddler who is fearful, consider a backpack to keep them off the ground.
  • You can usually catch a glimpse of the bears and vultures in the morning. Seeing animals is not guaranteed, so set expectations accordingly.
  • There are no restrooms or trash, so plan to pack out any waste.
  • Dress the kids in pants and socks because of poison oak and also maybe ticks.
  • The trails are exposed and can be windy and hot, so plan for minimal shade with hats and sunscreen.

Dana shared his amazing bear photo from this week and said, “We are always there around sunset. I’m not sure if the bears are more likely to be there at that time of day, however, they’ve been there five out of six times we have gone.”

bear in a tree
photo: Dana Brooks

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