Lost Orinda Park – Orinda

Now primarily part of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area.

Bob calls this area Lost Orinda Park because of the old Orinda Park Hotel built here in 1885 (the original foundation remains just feet from the trailhead parking) and the Wagner Ranch (essentially a resort property) built in 1882.

Orinda Park was a popular destination along the old railroad line for weekend trips for those from Richmond and Berkeley seeking warmer climates.

We believe the first homes built by European settlers were right on the best locations in the area which the now forced-out Native Americans had settled long ago. This was probably one of those sites. The year around fresh water San Pablo Creek and springs don’t hurt.

An old photo of the Orinda Park Hotel.

There are lots of interesting signs and locales on this property.

Toris Jaeger has been managing this 16 acre property for 40 years and from time to time helps build Miwok style tule shelters.

“She taught us how to use plants for soap, how to identify spearmint and bay leaves and how to reuse candles by melting them down and re-forming them into new ones. She showed us the painstaking process by which Native American cultures had made acorn meal by grinding the acorns, removing the shell and leaching out poisonous toxins with boiling water. What she was really teaching us was how to respect our environment and each other.”

Inga Miller, current Orinda City Council.

Right now because of COVID 19 the gates are locked. Hopefully not for long.

This site is right upstream from all those dots on known sites at the east end of the reservoir.

Continuing upstream we know of Native American sites on the 11th hole of the Orinda Country Club and at the McDonell Nursery.

Certainly more were lost when the town of Orinda was paved over.

Wagner Ranch Nature Area is a nature preserve and historic site that offers about 1,000 Orinda schoolchildren a year a variety of hands-on experiences. The area features a meadow, forest, ponds and streams, a biodiversity garden, and is home to thousands of native plant and animal species.

Students, from third-graders through high-schoolers, learn about animal habitat, ecosystem studies, Native Americans, California history, foraging, cooking and early U.S. history, among other activities. In addition, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other community organizations have contributed special projects.

Super easy to find at the intersection of San Pablo Dam Road, Bear Creek Road, and Wildcat Canyon Road.The Hotel foundation is right in the trees in front of the trailhead parking. Un-marked.

The Wagner Ranch Nature area is below the school, down to San Pablo Creek. It’s Lost Orinda Park, for Bob.