Since 2001, David Loeb has served as editor and then publisher of Bay Nature magazine and executive director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. A Bay Area resident since 1973, David moved here after graduating from college in Boston. The decision was largely based on a week spent visiting friends in San Francisco the previous January, which had included a memorable day at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the late 1990s, after many years working for the Guatemala News and Information Bureau in Oakland, David had the opportunity to spend more time hiking and exploring the parks and open spaces of the Bay Area. Increasingly curious about what he was seeing, he began reading natural history books, attending naturalist-led hikes and natural history courses and lectures, and volunteering for several local conservation organizations.
This was rewarding, but he began to feel that the rich natural diversity of the Bay Area deserved a special venue and a dedicated voice for the whole region, to supplement the many publications devoted to one particular place or issue. That’s when the germ of Bay Nature magazine began to take shape. In February 1997, David contacted Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and News from Native California, with the idea of a magazine focused on nature in the Bay Area, and was delighted with Malcolm’s enthusiastic response. Over the course of many discussions with Malcolm, publishing professionals, potential funders, and local conservation and advocacy groups, the magazine gradually took shape and was launched in January 2001. It is still going strong, with a wider base of support than ever.
Bay and Estuary
Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is not a huge park (978 acres), but it encompasses three distinct ecosystems, with a rich mix of wildlife, and a lot of cultural history as well. Those three ecosystems are freshwater marsh, tidal ponds along the bay, and upland grasslands on the eponymous hills. There are more than a dozen trails in the park, so you have lots of choices for routes to explore these habitats. This particular two-mile hike takes you through the marsh and up over the two main hills, and provides tremendous views out over the tidal marsh and much of the rest of the Bay Area.
Starting out at the parking lot near the Visitors Center (which has excellent displays and a store), head back 200 yards along the entrance road to the Chochenyo trailhead on your left. This accessible (but no dogs allowed) well-graded dirt trail, flat and wide, traverses a sort of levee between two sections of the main freshwater marsh. Where the cattails and tules open up, you get a good view of the marsh ponds. In mid-September, the ponds hosted dozens of avocets, stilts, gadwalls, and least sandpipers.
After a quarter of a mile, you reach the base of a small hill and a signed junction with the Lizard Rock Trail. Bear left onto this accessible dirt trail, which curves around the side of the hill past a large old coast live oak—one of the few trees out here in the marsh plain. Past the tree you get good views over North Marsh, which was filled with several hundred ducks and resting American white pelicans during our visit.
Another quarter of a mile brings you to the Bayview Trail. Turn right on to this accessible paved trail for 4/10 mile to the junction with the Red Hill Trail. Ahead of you is the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel; you could take a paved trail along the channel 1.5 miles out to the Bay proper. But our route takes a left on to the steep dirt Red Hill Trail (too steep to be accessible). The trail heads directly uphill to the summit of the first of this chain of low hills. From the top, you get great views north to San Francisco and Mount Tam, east to the whole range of the East Bay hills, down to Mount Hamilton, and west across the Bay to the dark ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The trail then descends quite steeply to the junction with the Nike Trail and then rises sharply up the next hill, which is slightly higher and has several interesting outcrops of the hard red chert that forms these hills. Even though you’re only few hundred feet above sea level here, the 360-degree view is one of the best in the Bay Area.
Head down the south side of the hill to the Glider Hill Trail, which bears left, gently descending the east-facing slope of the hill, before taking a big switchback down to the the main picnic area. (For a slightly longer hike, continue on Red Hill Trail for another third of a mile until it meets up with the Bayview Trail, turn left on to Bayview, then left on to Quail Trail, which takes you back to the Visitors’ Center.)