JOAQUIN MILLER PARK
Woodminster: Oakland’s "Cathedral in the Woods"
The word "woodminster" literally means "cathedral in the woods."
High in the Oakland Hills, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding cities, is the beautiful 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park. The Park is home to one of the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, as well as miles of trails, picnic grounds, and a WPA-era art deco construction that includes pools, cascades, and the Woodminster Amphitheater.
Designed by a team headed by Oakland Park Superintendent William Mott Jr and built as a WPA project, Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades were dedicated in 1940 as a memorial to California writers. The trees and other vegetation along the Cascades, planted by horticulturist and design team member Lionel Sprattling, are designated Writers Memorial Grove, and individual plantings are dedicated to California’s great authors, including Joaquin Miller as well as Bret Harte, Jack London, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammet, Ina Coolbrith, and many others. This is a fitting tribute, since so many of them visited this spot when "Poet of the Sierras" Joaquin Miller owned this land which he called "The Hights," spelling intentional.
Today, visitors to the park can wander for miles over sunny hillsides or shaded forest paths, and visit many of the structures built by the eccentric Millers. Joaquin’s home, which he called "The Abbey," is a California State Historic Landmark. There is a community center which can be rented for events, plenty of non-intrusive parking, and extensive picnic grounds. Woodminster Cascade flows from the base of Woodminster Amphitheater and falls over 100 feet through a series of pools.
The serene and woodsy atmosphere and stunning views make Joaquin Miller Park one of Oakland’s treasures. It is easily accessible from Highway 13, and full of delights for history buffs and nature-lovers alike.
For more information about Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park, click here.
For information about Friends of Joaquin Miller Park, click here.
Top photo by Wayne Hsieh
Bottom photo by Ingrid Taylar