The steam trains in Tilden Park are one of the East Bay's best kept secrets. I say that — not because nobody knows about them — only because you really have to know how to drive through the hills to find them. The railroad is located at the south end of Tilden Park, at the intersection of Grizzly Peak Blvd and Lomas Cantadas Rd (That's the Ashby end NOT the Marin end of the hills for all you directionally challenged folks like myself).
Plan your visit to the Tilden Steam Trains
The steam train is an authentic miniature live steam railroad featuring a collection of live steam locomotives. Open weekends year-round from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. or dusk, weather permitting during holidays and school closures. Bring a few dollars to purchase tickets in advance and enjoy the ride. That's all you need to know. Certain special Sundays, the tiny railroad runs as well.
$3 per ride or $12 for 5 rides. FREE for under 2 years. Buying 5 tickets is recommended to save time in line.
Tips for visiting the steam trains with little kids
Bring layers. It can get chilly in the woods. It is often foggy here and little ones can get cold while on the train.
Avoid busy times, usually between 12-4pm, especially on sunny days. When not busy, you can ride the train without getting off, again and again.
Parking lot by the trains gets full quickly. You can find additional parking along the path past the entrance. It is bit of walk but there are plenty spaces available.
There are few picnic tables available right of the parking spaces, which are terrific for snacks or small parties.
There's a decent restroom in the parking lot. Since the train rides go in waves, line for bathroom can get long too.
A mini museum displaying three train engines situated by the entrance. You can read about the historical facts about the engines here. (It isn't very exciting for kids)
Kids get real thrill out of going through the tunnel, twice!
Sundays 12-3pm the miniature train operates as well for FREE (they accept donations). This one also goes through tunnel once.
Wondering if the train will be open due to weather? Do you want to get up to date information about the steam train? Call (510) 548-6100 or find out on Facebook.
[Photos by Kat Choi and Heather Flett for 510families; all rights reserved]