|Main Marsh at Coyote Hills Regional Park|
The Coyote Hills look like a small group of mountain peaks
that got lost on their way to join the Diablo Range. The hills seem to
pop straight up out of the Bay, surrounded as they are by flat expanses
of water and marshland. Actually, they are remnants of an ancient
mountain range. At one time, they were islands, but the channel to the
east of the hills gradually filled in and became marshland. Coyote
Hills Regional Park, which encompasses most of the Coyote Hills, is
near Fremont and Newark, right at the edge of San Francisco Bay, just north
of the Dumbarton Bridge. It consists of 1200 acres of rolling rocky hills,
meadows, freshwater marshes, salt ponds, and Indian shell mounds and village
sites. It got its name in the 1880's for the coyotes that howled when they
heard the whistles from the trains that ran by here. You won't find many
coyotes here anymore, but there's still a tremendous variety of birds
and plants to be found among the hills, meadows, and wetlands. Alameda
Creek runs along its northern boundary, flowing into San Francisco Bay.
The Alameda Creek Regional Trail follows along
the creek banks to the historic town of Niles. Trails lead south from Coyote
Hills to the San Francisco Bay
National Wildlife Refuge, which also has trails through the hills and
along levees near the Bay. The combined network of trails makes for many
miles of bike riding along mostly flat (if not always paved) paths, away
from automobile traffic. If you like hill-climbing with a mountain bike,
there's some challenging hill trails here too.
|Main Marsh and Visitor Center area near base of hills||Ohlone Indian shell mound and village site|
Hills Regional Park has a complex network of trails, some paved, some
hard-packed dirt. Most of them are accessible to bicycles. You can park
at the visitor center,
which has a museum with exhibits on the human and natural history of the
area. It has park information, including brochures on all the East Bay
Regional Parks. The visitor center area also has restrooms, green lawns,
and picnic areas. Across from it is the Main Marsh. Boardwalk trails lead
over and through the marsh at the water's level. On the southeast side
of the Main Marsh is a restored Ohlone village, built from reeds and constructed
on an Indian shell mound. The village is fenced-off, but may be visited
on guided tours. At the northeast edge of the Main Marsh, near Alameda
Creek, is the DUST (Demonstration Urban Stormwater Treatment) Marsh. This
55-acre freshwater marsh is an experiment in seeing if marshlands can be
used to help detoxify stormwater runoff.
|Boardwalk over Main Marsh, Coyote Hills Regional Park|
The Bayview Trail is a paved 3.5 mile loop. You can take
it starting at the visitor's center. It runs parallel to the main park
road, next to the Main Marsh, then turns south at the Quarry Staging Area.
This area is a along a rugged section of the hills with red rock outcroppings.
|South Marsh and hills with rock outcroppings||Dairy Glen Camp, South Marsh, and Meadowlark Trail going up the hill|
The trail runs around the hill and starts a gradual ascent
around the Dairy Glen group camp. It then drops down to the west end of
South Marsh. At the fork, a paved trail continues south and up the hill
as the Meadowlark Trail.
|Bayview Trail along salt ponds, Coyote Hills Regional Park||View of salt ponds, levees, and Dumbarton Bridge from Bayview Trail|
The Bayview Trail turns towards the west. As it nears
the salt ponds, the Apay Way Trail branches off to the left and follows
the base of the hills, crosses over Highway 84 on an overpass, then heads
to the headquarters of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The No Name Trail is a dirt trail that heads due west along the salt pond
levee. It eventually reaches San Francisco Bay. It turns north to meet
up with the end of the Alameda Trail. It also joins up with the Shoreline
Trail, which heads south along the Bay to Marshlands Road. The Bayview
Trail continues to the right. It climbs up the banks of the hills at the
edge of the salt ponds, offering great views of the Bay and shoreline.
It gradually descends and winds in and out along the contours of the hills.
It crosses several steep trails that lead up to the tops of the hills.
At its northernmost point, a short connector trail joins up with the Alameda
Creek Trail. The Bayview Trail then curves south and loops back towards
the Visitor Center.
|Apay Way Trail from its highpoint, looking north towards Bayview Trail||Apay Way Trail, near Bayview Trail looking south|
If you take the gravel-covered Apay Way Trail south, it
runs along the curving edge of steep hills and along the edge of a salt
pond. The trail gradually ascends. At the highpoint of the trail, you can
walk out onto a promontory and get a good view of the surrounding salt
ponds, Hwy 84, the Dumbarton Bridge, and the San Francisco Bay National
Wildlife Refuge across Hwy 84.
|Rock quarry near south end of Coyote Hills Regional Park||Salt pond at south edge of Coyote Hills Park, Hwy 84 & SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge in background|
The trail drops down and curves around Red Hill. Suddenly a most astonishing sight comes into a view. There's an enormous hole in the ground on the left side of the trail on the east side of the hills. This is a rock quarry pit, which is on private land outside of the park. The pit is so deep, you can't see its bottom from the trail. It seems to go way below sea level, as it looks much deeper than the surface of the bay, which is on the right side of the trail. The steep, bare, colorful rock walls of the quarry are in sharp contrast to the surrounding grass-covered hills.
Soon the concrete bridge built on top of the tollgate of the Dumbarton Bridge comes into view. Crossing over the bridge, you leave Coyote Hills Regional Park and enter the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Click here to go to my Bay Area Biking page on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Here are some more links on Coyote Hills:
Click here to return to my Bay Area Biking Page
Click here to return to my Bay Area Back Pages Home Page
Ron Horii, San Jose