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Moffett Bay Trail

Opening Ceremony September 20, 2010

A bicyclist rides along the new Bay Trail Segment by Moffett Field. Across the Bay above Fremont is Mt. Allison.


For many years, the San Francisco Bay Trail had a significant gap in it in the South Bay. On one side was the trail complex at the Sunnyvale Baylands. On the other side was the Stevens Creek Trail and its connecting trails. In-between was Moffett Federal Airfield. The means of connecting the trails to the west and east was on a stretch of existing service roads 2.4 miles in length.  Preventing the connector trail from opening was 2 locked gates, but it was more complicated than that. There was a long list of legal, environmental, safety, and security issues to address first, involving many public and private parties. Finally, on September 20, 2010, all the issues had been solved, and the trail was ready to open.  An opening ceremony was held on the Sunnyvale Baylands end, near Lockheed and Moffett Field.  The organizations involved with the trail segment were ABAG's San Franciso Bay Trail Project, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NASA Ames Research Center, Cargill Corp., the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the City of Mountain View, the City of Sunnyvale, and Lockheed Martin. The adjacent wetlands are part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

Access Information

To reach the Sunnyvale Baylands, the shortest access is at the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant. The Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant is located on Borregas Avenue and Carl Road, just off Caribbean Drive, between Lawrence Expressway and Mathilda Avenue. It can be reached from Hwy 101 northbound from points south by taking the Lawrence Expressway exit and following Lawrence Expressway east. After it crosses over Hwy 237, it becomes Caribbean Drive. Turn right on Borregas Avenue into the recycling facility access road, then turn left on Carl Road. Follow it to the end. From Hwy 101 from points north, take the Hwy 237 exit towards Milpitas, then exit at Mathilda Avenue. Turn left onto Mathilda and take it north. It turns right and becomes Caribbean Drive. Turn left at Borregas Avenue and follow the directions above. From the East Bay, take Hwy 880 to Hwy 237 westbound. Exit at the Lawrence Expressway/Caribbean Drive exit, turn right, and follow the directions above.

See the Stevens Creek Trail page for access information from the Mountain View end.

Description and Views

Below are pictures from the opening ceremony and from the new trail, which ends at Stevens Creek. The ceremony began at the Sunnyvale end of the trail, so the closest access was from the Sunnyvale Baylands.

This is the entrance to the Bay Trail at the Sunnyvale Baylands by the west end of the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant.

As seen from the retired landfill hill on the Sunnyvale Baylands: A shuttle bus brings guests to the ceremony on a levee that is normally closed. The levee below it is the Bay Trail route itself.

In the distance, where all the vehicles are parked on the levees, is where the opening ceremony takes place.

This is the entrance to the Bay Trail along the levee below the landfill hills. There are a series of parallel channels here that serve different purposes.

Along one of the levees is a great blue heron and black-necked stilts.

Ahead is a ramp that leads up to a viewing platform at the base of the landfill hills.

This gate, across from the the end of the landfill once blocked access to the levee. When it opened several years ago, it allowed access along the levee past Lockheed Martin to the edge of Moffett Field.

Bicyclists and pedestrians head down the trail. A freshwater marsh is on the left. To the right is a freshwater drainage channel from Moffett Field.  The bus is travelling on a levee that belonged to Cargill. To the right of that levee is a channel carrying brine from one salt pond to another.

The freshwater marsh left of the trail expands into a small pond.

Across the pond, filled with shorebirds, is Yahoo's headquarters.

The trail passes by Lockheed Martin. The defense contractor's facility has signs warning of no trespassing, photography, or sketching allowed.

The trail squeezes through a narrow gap between the Lockheed Martin fence and a channel. Ahead is a bridge over the channel. To the left of the bridge is the perimeter road in Moffett Field, next to the golf course.

The trail crosses over the bridge.

Looking back south along the channel.

Looking north from the bridge, the ceremony site is on the levee just before the entrance to the new trail.

The new signboard marks the entrance to the trail. This is USFWS property, part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The signboard has information about trail and hunting safety. Waterfowl hunting is allowed in season.

The locked gate ahead is the entrance to the new Bay Trail segment.

Master of Ceremony John Bourgeois, executive project manager for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project introduces the speakers.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is the first speaker, talks about the project, and thanks the people and agencies involved.

Pete Worden, Director of NASA Ames Research Center talks about NASA's role in the project.

Pat Mapelli, Real Property Manager at Cargill Corporation, talks about Cargill's role in the trail opening. Cargill's sale of thousands of acres of salt ponds to the public has made the salt pond restorations possible, but it was their donation of 16 acres of land, including 200 linear feet, that opened up this segment of trail.

Marge Kolar, Regional Chief of Refuges, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service talks about new developments in the South Bay refuge.

Julia Miller, San Francisco Bay Trail Board of Directors and former mayor of Sunnyvale, talks about the process of opening the trail and recognizes the people involved.

Julia Miller and Anna Eshoo, along with other dignataries, officially open the trail by cutting the lock on the gate to the trail.

The first bicyclist enters the trail.

Lots of news media covered the trail opening.

Bicycles stream down the new trail.

People of all ages can enjoy the trail

Pelicans float on the salt pond east of the trail. This is pond A3W.

Along the trail is a rest stop with benches, signs, and binoculars.

This sign talks about the ponds and wildlife in them.

This sign talks about the bird species that can be seen on the ponds at different times of the year.

The small sign on the binoculars says "Binoculars provided by the Adobe Foundation Fund, a Corporate Avised Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation."

Walkers enjoy the new trail too.

Ahead, at the edge of the Moffett Field runway is the start of the drainage channel next to the trail.

On Moffett Field are aircraft and Hangar One. At the time of the trail opening, goats were in a pen, grazing on vegetation. The plane behind them is an MC-130, flown by the California Air National Guard.

On the salt pond are hunting blinds.

The trail turns right at the corner of the salt pond.

The trail passes a closed levee on the right that runs between pond A3W on the east and narrow pond AB2 on the west. The trail continues to the left of a narrow channel.

The narrow channel ends ahead.

Here the trail begins to run next to salt pond A2E. Ahead it turns left.

To the left of the trail is a shallow pond. Behind it in the distance is the tent roof of Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Ahead the trail turns left.

The trail heads southwest.

Across the pond is Hangar One. It was built during the Depression era for the airship USS Macon. It covers 8 acres and is one of the largest freestanding buildings in the world.

Behind the pond, filled with shorebirds, are Hangars 2 (right) and 3 (left) at Moffett Field. These were also built as airship hangars. Hangar 2 currently houses a private airship.

Across the pond is the 120'X80' wind tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center. It has the largest wind tunnel section in the world.

The trail follows along the edge of salt pond A2E. Pickleweed lines the trail.

The trail turns slightly to the right and heads towards Stevens Creek.

To the left of the trail, the Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area begins. In the background center is the steel bridge over Stevens Creek that leads to the Stevens Creek Trail.

The remains of a catwalk cross the huge salt pond north of the trail.

Ahead is the end of the trail.

This gate, opened today, marks the trailhead.

Next to the gate, a great blue heron, a flock of pelicans, and a great egret greet visitors to the trail.

A bicyclist arrives at the newly-opened trail gate, ready to head to Sunnyvale.

South of the trail is the pond at the Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area.

At the end of the Moffett Bay Trail is another new sign board with hunter check-in forms.

This is the start of the 55-acre Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area on the right. Stevens Creek is on the left. The Stevens Creek Trail is on the west side of Stevens Creek. The trail ahead leads to the Moffett Field Trail on the right past the pond.

The trail on the east side of Stevens creek is not part of the Stevens Creek Trail. It has been open and in use for years as a service road for the Cargill salt ponds and was heavily used by hunters. It was never physically closed to other users. The USFWS now owns the salt ponds, and they are still open to hunting. Trail users are allowed on the trail to the Bay.

This is the mouth of Stevens Creek on San Francisco Bay. On the horizon are the Dumbarton Bridge on the left and the Coyote Hills on the right.

The Moffett Field connector trail now allows travel on 26 miles of the Bay Trail between San Jose and East Palo Alto, as well as many miles of connector trails. The Bay Trail to the southeast runs through the Sunnyvale Baylands and Alviso. Connecting to it are the Guadalupe River Trail, Hwy 237 Bikeway, San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, and the Calabazas Creek Trail. Close by or connecting to these trails are the Coyote Creek Trail and the J. W. Christian Greenbelt. The Bay Trail to the northwest runs through the Stevens Creek Nature Study Area, Shoreline at Mountain View, the Palo Alto Baylands, and the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Connecting to these trails are the Stevens Creek Trail and the Permanente Creek Trail. A short distance away, separated by the Hetch Hetchy Pipeline and the Dumbarton Crossing rail line is the Bay Trail that runs through the north part of Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, the trail to Menlo Park's Bayfront Park, and the pedestrian/bike lane on the Dumbarton Bridge. The Dumbarton Bridge leads to trails in Fremont's Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, Coyote Hills Regional Park, and the Alameda Creek Regional Trail. Future trail connections, particularly along the Coyote Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail will connect the Bay Trail to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.


Web page developed 11/1/10 by Ronald Horii

This page is a prototype intended for possible future inclusion on the Bay Trail Website, but it has not yet been officially approved or authorized by the Bay Trail Project. The information and opinions expressed here are the responsibility of the author and are accurate to the best of his knowledge at the time the page was created. Trail conditions and rules are subject to change without notice.