Ann Sieck wants to make sure people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, can find parks and trails they can enjoy.
Bay and Estuary
I gave this trail a lukewarm review back in 2008, so I was surprised when we spent a morning there last week at how much there was to enjoy. Possibly the difference was that this time the tide was fairly high—when it’s low, you’ll see acres of exposed mud flats.
Just as I remembered, there were plenty of happy free-range pooches and their people at the dog park just off Central Avenue, but if you don’t want to take a chance on getting your face licked, stay on the paved leash-required bicycle path, which is separated by a fence from the cavorting canines and runs west across the marshes. Not very interesting at first glance, and not secluded, with Highway 580 only a few hundred feet away. Along the trail the plant life is mostly coyote brush, dock, fennel, wild radish and other hardy invasives more loveable for their tenacity than their unexpectedness, growing above a seawall of broken concrete and rock. Lots of hikers, joggers and bicyclists, but the trail is wide enough for comfortable passing. And there turns out to be a lot to see.
On a clear day, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tamalpais, the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, Angel Island and the hills of Albany, El Cerrito and Berkeley. In the first mile or so, passing Hoffman and Stege Marshes and Meeker Slough, you may spot any number of shorebirds on either side of the trail. Once we watched half a dozen Avocets chase a cat away from their nests on the mud flats. The slender pigeon sized birds, with their long fine beaks and legs, don't look as if they'd have a chance against a cat, but when they walked calmly towards it, it retreated, pretending that it had remembered an important prior engagement.
Where the trail crosses Meeker Creek, turn right to follow the channel inland; ducks, herons and other wildlife are often seen here. Several loops are possible among the waterfront condominiums near the Richmond Marina. This area is less natural, but there are three landscaped city parks near the Marina, and the Rosie the Riveter Memorial is here. A brochure available for pickup along the trail or at http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5553 enumerates historical attractions connected with the WWII Home Front; a Visitor Center (510-232-5050) is near the Bay Trail about a mile further west, on the other side of the Marina, but its hours are very limited.
Details: There’s bus service to Marina Bay and to Point Isabel, so a one-way walk is possible. Accessible toilets and water are available at both ends and along the way; there are frequent benches. Except for paths over the low rises in the dog park, the trails here are paved and dead flat. Parking may be difficult at Point Isabel on nice weekends. There’s an outdoor café by the Isabel Street entrance to the dog park which might be a pleasant place to stop, especially if you like dogs.