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Albany Bulb

Starts at:

Albany Bulb Park Entrance, Albany


60 minutes

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The Albany Bulb was born as a dump. For over twenty years, people threw appliances, construction waste, telephone poles, and yard-scraps into the bay. But then, something unexpected happened -- nature transformed the debris into a strange and wild landscape. Artists, dog walkers, and a homeless community made it their own. Until the city wanted it back and it became one of the most fought-over properties in the East Bay.

On this Detour, we’ll see the markings of the battle’s winners — city signs, maintained pathways and trash cans that have turned the Bulb into a park. But we’ll also step through the weeds to the former homes of the people who once lived there. Two landfillians will tell us about the fight to protect those homes. We’ll enter a secret labyrinth, listen to acoustic shadows, and hear a murder mystery whose prime suspect was an alleged "devilish cult". We’ll see-saw on old telephone poles and visit the former open-studios of the artists who created ten-foot sculptures out of driftwood. Wear your sturdy sneakers. On this Detour, we’ll climb painted concrete slabs, hunt for the sweetest fennel, look out at “million dollar views”, and ponder what “invasive” really means.

Tips & Hours

  • Take this Detour anytime during daylight, but the hours before sunset are the most magical.

  • FYI: There are a few bad words in this Detour, and a story about a murder.

  • Wear your sturdy shoes or boots, definitely something with tread. Sunscreen, hat, and jacket also recommended.

  • The Bulb is a far-flung treasure of the East Bay but worth the trek. The nearest Bart stop is North Berkeley and you can catch a car service from there. There is also a parking lot if you'd like to drive yourself. If you're a biker, the Bulb is accessible from the Bay Trail. Bike racks are available on the path from the parking lot to the Bulb, about 150 feet from the Detour's starting point.

  • The Bulb is also very dog-friendly if you want to bring your pooch!