|Shoreline Lake at Shoreline Park||Shoreline Amphitheatre Tents|
at Mountain View Park is a beautiful 700-acre park with a saltwater
lake, golf course, rolling grassy hills, and bay
trails. It's hard to believe it's built on mountains of trash. For
13 years, starting in 1968, 500 acres of the land near the bay was used
here as a landfill for trash from the city of San Francisco. In 1983, Mountain
View closed the dump and began turning it into a park. There are still
active landfills just to the north in Palo Alto and to the south in Sunnyvale,
but they will be turned into parks also someday. Next to Shoreline Park
are the towering tent peaks, the largest in the world, of the Shoreline
Amphitheatre. The park's 50-acre lake is popular with wind surfers,
and small boaters. The strong bay winds make the park a favorite place
for stunt kite flying.
The park has 10 miles of trails, some paved, some dirt. Paved trails lead
past the golf course, around the lake, and along the tidal marshes and
salt ponds. Some trails lead northwest to Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve.
Others lead southeast to the Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area
and the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The trails here are
long, but flat. The proximity to the bay provides fresh (but not necessarily
fresh-smelling), cool air and close contact with the bay environment. Here
is a map of the bay trails in this area.
|Stevens Creek Nature Study Area|
East of the main entrance to Shoreline at Mountain View
at Shoreline Blvd. is a paved multi-use trail that runs next to a huge
overflow parking lot for Shoreline Amphitheatre and ends at Stevens
Creek. The creek ends its 20-mile run from the slopes of Black Mountain
in the Santa Cruz Mountains to flow into San Francisco Bay here. Part of
the creek's wetlands near the bay belong to the Stevens
Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area, administered by the Mid-Peninsula
Regional Open Space District.
|East end of Stevens Creek Trail at Whisman Slough||West end of Stevens Creek Trail at Whisman Park|
The paved Stevens
Creek Trail follows the west bank of Stevens Creek inland. The tree-lined
creek trail is a work in-progress. Currently it only runs a couple of miles
from near Moffett Field to Whisman Park in Mountain View, but additions
are under construction. Someday when it's longer, I may give it a Web page
of its own. The Stevens Creek Trail crosses over Stevens Creek just past
the buildings at Ames. Trails lead along both banks of the creek.
|Moffett Wetlands and Moffett Field hangars||Stevens Creek and NASA wind tunnel|
East of Stevens Creek are the
Wetlands. These are part of Moffett
Federal Air Field and NASA Ames
Research Center. Particularly prominent here are the giant hangars,
including the monstrous 21-story tall dirigible hangar, Hangar
1, at Moffett Field and the largest wind
tunnel in the world at NASA Ames.
|Stevens Creek with egret, Moffett Hangar 1 in background|
|Estuary near Stevens Creek|
The west side of Stevens Creek is part of Shoreline at Mountain View Park. The trail runs on both sides of a triangular-shaped tidal estuary. A wooden bridge crosses the south end of the estuary. A wooden viewing platform extends over the estuary on its east shore near where a drainage channel flows into Stevens Creek to the east. The trail along the west bank of Stevens Creek ends at a locked gate, so you have to turn west along the south bank of Whisman Slough. It meets the paved trail that runs along the west bank of the triangular estuary, which continues west between Whisman Slough and reclaimed landfill hills. This is part of the Bay Trail. This trail then intersects the main Shoreline Park trail.
The main trail through the park starts at the park's main
entrance at Shoreline Blvd., just past Shoreline
Amphitheatre. Since the amphitheatre can hold 20,000 fans and hosts
big-name acts, don't go here if there's a major concert going on, or you
may hit solid traffic. (On the other hand, taking a bike is the best way
to get around the traffic to get to Shoreline Amphitheatre during a major
concert.) If you park by the entrance and ride in, you can avoid the parking
fee at the lake parking lot. The multi-use path starts near the park entrance
next to a kite-flying field and the overflow parking lot for the amphitheatre.
The path curves to the left and parallels the golf course, with marshes
and the waters of Whisman Slough to the right. The path crosses a bridge
over Permanente Creek and enters the lake area, which is the recreational
heart of the park.
|Shoreline Lake at sunset||Shoreline Lake dock area|
A large modern building on the lake shore houses the
rental office, sports shop, sailing club, restrooms, and cafe. The
cafe has outdoor tables with views of the lake and wind-surfing beach.
The restored historic Victorian Rengstorff
House, originally built in 1867, is near the lake and is open for docent-led
tours, weddings, and parties. Lawn-covered hills surround the lake and
provide picnic and play areas. The paved path circles halfway around the
north shore of the lake. At a fence near the north end of the lake, the
path continues, but is open to foot traffic only. Branches lead out to
the right towards the bay.
|Coast Casey Forebay, Shoreline Lake in background||Charleston Slough|
|Bay Trail along Mountain View Slough||Levee Trail along Adobe Creek, Palo Alto Baylands|
There is a complex network of marshes and waterways here. This is an extremely rich natural environment. Pickleweed and cordgrass are the dominant plant forms. Waterfowl and marsh birds abound, including pelicans, egrets, great blue herons, coots, ducks, Canada geese, and sandpipers. Small mammals, like jackrabbits and squirrels, can sometimes be seen. The muddy shores teem with marine life, mostly snails.
|Pelican and other shorebirds at Palo Alto Baylands, with Dumbarton Bridge in back|
The trail on the levee between Charleston Slough and Adobe
Creek, is the Marsh Loop of the Bay Trail. The long, wide, curving levee
trail eventually touches San Francisco Bay itself and curves to the west.
After passing the island of Hooks Point, the trail enters Baylands
Nature Preserve in Palo
Alto. It crosses over a dam on Matadero Creek. The sailing station
boat launching dock is visible on the opposite shore of the channel at
the mouth of the former Palo Alto Yacht Harbor. Baylands
Nature Preserve surrounds what used to be the Palo Alto Yacht Harbor,
now a silted-in mud flat and reed-filled marsh. It's a shelter
for tremendous numbers and varieties of birds.
|Byxbee Park mounds, overlooking Matadero Creek|
In the surrounding area are Byxbee
Park, Byxbee Park is a unique place, built on hills comprising
a former landfill (an active landfill is adjacent). It's a combination
of nature and landscape art. The park is sandwiched between Matadero Creek
and the marsh next to the former yacht harbor. Paths covered with
crushed oystershells wind up the grass-covered hills. On one side is a
of telephone poles of varying heights, following the hill contours.
They are reminiscent of the pier pilings in the bay. Small hillocks (see
above) resemble Indian shell mounds. A path leads along Matadero Creek,
but is currently closed off at the end of the park. Past Byxbee Park, a
bike path leads along Embarcadero Road to Palo Alto Airport, Palo Alto
Municipal Golf Course, and the Palo Alto Duck Pond. Embarcadero Road ends
at a parking lot near the boat launching ramp.
|Boardwalk at Lucy Evans Nature Interpretive Center|
Within the park is the Lucy Evans Nature Interpretive Center. It sits on piers over the edge of the marsh. A long, straight wooden boardwalk extends deep into the marsh towards the Bay. Crossing it are narrow PG&E catwalks, which are fenced off and off-limits. At the end of the boardwalk is an observation platform near the shore of the bay.
Bicycle trails lead around the levees and connect to Embarcadero Road, which hits East Bayshore Road. East Bayshore Road is a frontage road to Hwy 101. Bike lanes are along the sides of the road. You can take this road back to Shoreline Park. A path leads into the northwestern edge of the park. Farther north is the Menlo Park Bay Trail and Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. (For more information see Ravenswood to Palo Alto: Sanfrancisco.Sidewalk).
Here are some more links:
Click here to return to my Bay Area Biking Page
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Ron Horii, San Jose
Created 11/27/98, update 2/20/99