History

Joaquin Miller, the Man

Joaquin Miller Park is named for one of the late 19th century’s more colorful figures, Cincinnatus Hiner (“Joaquin”) Miller. Born in Indiana in 1841, he was a pony-express rider, lawyer, judge, teacher, gold prospector, nomad, and author.

During a trip to the Bay Area in 1870, he met Ina Coolbrith, California’s first Poet Laureate and Oakland’s first librarian. She convincedĀ Cincinnatus to take the colorful pen name of “Joaquin” Miller. He later became known as the “Poet of the Sierras.”

When he returned to Oakland in 1886, he settled on 70 acres of grassy hillside, which he purchased parcel-by-parcel in the hills above the “City of the Oaks.” In an effort to create an inspirational artists’ retreat, he erected monuments, built structures for his mother and daughter, and coordinated the planting of 75,000 trees: Monterey pine, Monterey cypress, olive and eucalyptus. He died in his home in 1913.

Joaquin Miller, the Park

In 1919, the Oakland Parks Department purchased approximately 68 acres from Joaquin Miller’s estate, allowing his wife and daughter to live out their lives there in their homes.

By 1929, when developers began building nearby, Save the Redwoods League purchased adjacent redwood groves, which were later acquired by the City. In 2004, the city bought 8 acres of nearby Castle Canyon using Measure K funds.

Today, Joaquin Miller Park covers more than 500 acres. Its trails connect downhill to Oakland’s Dimond Canyon Park, and uphill to Roberts and Redwood East Bay Regional Parks, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail.