Here’s a close-up look at where our trash goes (the “garbage mountain”), where our gasoline comes from (the Chevron refinery) and maybe where our energy could come from (a field of giant solar collectors).
Thanks to tireless Bay Trail advocates, the long-promised 2.8-mile Landfill Loop Trail is finally complete, angling across Wildcat Marsh and skirting the riprapped shore of the “garbage mountain” just north of it. Nearly 60 years’ worth of trash here is now sealed and cloaked with topsoil. Though pipes for monitoring containment protrude from the ground, and trees are not permitted as their roots might breach the landfill’s seal, grasses and feral garden plants populate the slopes, and you may see lizards, rabbits, and even deer. There are trailside benches and interpretive displays, and fine views across San Pablo Bay. The trail crosses the pickleweed marsh on levees, among foraging shorebirds and diving swallows. To save this for last, make the circuit counterclockwise.
The Loop Trail is little frequented, but not entirely quiet. Loaded dump trucks prowl the mountain; the roar of machinery comes from methane powered generators and the nearby Chevron refinery, while battlefield sound effects drift in from a rifle range two miles north. Still, here where the Bay Trail gets off city streets and follows the water’s edge, you can pause to meditate on how nature, or something like it, hangs on even cheek by jowl with civilization’s less appealing consequences.
Details: From Richmond Parkway, go west on Parr Boulevard 0.2 mile past turns and killer speed bumps, keeping to the left and following signs for the Bay Trail, to the Landfill Loop staging area at the end. Paved parking lot has accessible vault toilet. Bikes okay, but dogs are not permitted. Wind off the bay can be icy. On the other hand, there’s no shade to speak of out here. Open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; gates locked at 5.
Original review was published in the January 2012 issue of Bay Nature magazine