The Best Place in the East Bay for (Legal) Camping 

Stewartville Backpack Camp

In an overcrowded urban area, the best legal camping spots are ones that require lugging tents and supplies a few miles away from the parking lot. This allows you to escape the sounds of people, especially the yahoos who drive campers in, start up generators, and crank up their TVs and stereos. The East Bay Regional Park District has a half-dozen of these hidden in some of their wilder areas. The Ohlone Wilderness Area's campsites, requiring moderate to strenuous hiking, are a beautiful and secluded runner-up, but the best for sheer novelty is the campground at Black Diamond Mines near Antioch. Located 3.2 miles from where you park your car, the accommodations are primitive — twenty camp spaces with picnic tables, pit toilets, nonpotable water that has to be filtered or treated — but you can't beat the $5 price. You also can't beat the history; it's located on the site of a former mining community, and there is a 600-foot stretch of coal mine to explore next to the campground. The mines are dark and cold, even when the weather's hot and bright, so don't forget to take along a sweater and a flashlight.

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