The Hunt for the Best Berkeley Sunset

I thought the loveliest sunsets I’d ever witness would be those moments I’ve gazed across the Grand Canyon or watched the orange sun disappear over the beaches of Southern California. Yet the first sunset I watched from the Berkeley hills took my breath away, and two years later, it still does. As a long-distance runner I’ve discovered most these spots from running over the years, but even if you don’t jog to these vistas, exploring these places will give you a much-needed study break.

Photo credits to my friend Sana K. who shared this sunset with me
  1. I’ll start with a classic: the view from Lawrence Hall of Science. You can take the uphill shuttle from Evans Hall directly here. You not only see San Francisco, Oakland, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge, and the Marin Headlands, but you are also accompanied by fun statues like a DNA helix and a whale!

2. One spot you probably haven’t thought to venture to for sunset is the UC Botanical Garden. Given that it closes at 5, you can only really experience the golden hour in winter, but it’s amazing to watch the cacti, roses, maples, and towering redwoods as they glow in the evening sun. Luckily free with Cal ID, just be sure to arrive before they close doors at 4:30 PM.

3. A little harder to access is this view from halfway up the Fire Trails. You can either take the trail past Strawberry Canyon pool, or follow a series of beautiful steps starting on Orchard Lane off Panoramic Way. I used to come here everyday my freshman year, and it’s an easy 2 mile walk or run.

4. For a longer excursion, work your way over to Indian Rock on Northside for the sunset. This is a popular spot, but I’ve seen it in rain and shine and it never fails to make me grateful to call Berkeley home.

5. One view that gets better through the seasons is from the Clark Kerr Fire Trails. You can get here from behind Clark Kerr’s track, or all the way up Dwight Way until it becomes a steep footpath. If you go now, you’ll be rewarded by a field of wildflowers at the top. You’ll even spot the occasional golden poppy, how much more Californian does it get?

6. Now for my hidden treasure, from the ledge of the Law School. If you climb on the ledge on the south side of the building, you can tiptoe your way to the end and dangle your feet as you watch day turn to night. You won’t be high enough to get a view, but you are  10 feet above ground and there’s some thrill from being on elevated surfaces.

7. If you’ve ever been to a Cal football night game, you know how amazing it is to witness a California Memorial Stadium sunset. When the Bears are up by a couple touchdowns, the Campanile is glowing in the background, and the student section is popping, this sunset is the icing on the cake.

8. One iconic view hasn’t been mentioned, and that’s because I saved our beloved Big C for last. Whether you want to overhear an artist playing at the Greek Theatre, go on a fun date, or swing at the top with the Bay beneath you, this is the spot to be. But, I cheated on this one and my picture is actually a sunrise from the Big C. Although this day was a pain to get out of bed, I was rewarded with some of the most magical skies ever.

I hope you get to venture to these spots soon, and maybe find your own favorite view while you’re at it!

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Author: Katia Gibson

Hello! I'm Katia, a senior chemistry major and Cal Teach minor, and you'll either find me in the 24 hour library studying or out chasing sunsets on my long runs. I'm a Bay Area native and I also do work in the environmental community, research in an organic chemistry lab, and dance with Ballet Folklorico Reflejos de Mexico. Hoping that I can share a little bit of Berkeley's magic with you all, go bears!