Casting pond, upper Lion Creek

One of Oakland’s most beautiful places is tucked in the woods next to the Warren Freeway at Carson Street: the casting pond complex of McCrea Memorial Park, along Lion Creek. Entering the park took my breath away the first time I visited.


Lion Creek leaves the grounds of Holy Names University and runs in a steep gorge behind Elinora Avenue, evading the freeway for a short stretch that includes the park. Sulfur Mine creek joins it at the south end, and the combined stream enters a culvert beneath the freeway, where Horseshoe Creek joins it, and runs to the Mills College campus.

This part of the streambed is highly engineered. The 1947 topo map shows an ordinary stream valley here with an intermittent stream indicated, so the wide glade for the ponds was built and the stream shunted aside. Farther downstream are some empty ponds whose purpose I don’t know; perhaps one of you does.


The woods have made the area their own. This was once part of Leona Heights Park, which was cut in half by the freeway, and a pedestrian bridge that may be Oakland’s least-used one connects the two sides.

4 Responses to “Casting pond, upper Lion Creek”

  1. Jules Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    The park’s web link you included above shows a picture of an unused trout pond that looks like the pond whose use you were unsure of. The park seems to be a nice little oasis.

  2. Nick P. Says:

    Those ponds were once stocked with fish–surprisingly recently, IIRC. I lived on High Street just on the other side of the hill from 2004-2011, and I seem to remember them being stocked at some point during that time. I went to camp as a kid at McCrea park in the ’80s, and I remember accessing the storm-drain system at the south end of the park past the trout ponds, and walking through them, under the freeway, over to Leona park. I later wondered what the camp counselors’ explanation would have been if they “lost a kid in the storm drain system under the freeway.”

  3. Stan Korich Says:

    Trout ponds (2) now empty and in disrepair were regularly stocked with rainbow trout from 1950’s though most of the 1970’s. Claud was the City’s caretaker who lived on the grounds in the little red house (still there). Was my first job. In about 1967. I grew up on Elinora Ave from 1958 to 1978.
    Stan Korich

  4. kenneth c firl Says:

    I fished there as a young boy in the early 60’s with my grandfather. I still have a photo of me there fishing with him.

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