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Stevens Creek Trail to Cooley Landing

Jetties at Cooley Landing


These are pictures from a bike tour I took on 8/12/12 starting at the end of the Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, to reach the Bay Trail and mostly following it through Shoreline at Mountain View Park, the Palo Alto Baylands, and Ravenswood Open Space Preserve to my ultimate destination: Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto. Cooley Landing is a 9-acre peninsula, named after Lester Cooley, who purchased the land in 1868. It later became a county dump. Landfill from the dump created the peninsula that forms the landing, but it also resulted in toxic materials in the soil. The land was bought in 1960 by Carl Schoof, who operated the Palo Alto Boat works on the peninsula until he sold it to the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) in 1998. In 2006, POST transferred the land to the City of East Palo Alto. Cooley Landing is surrounded by public land. South is Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. North is Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, owned by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD). The parking lot for Ravenswood OSP is next to Cooley Landing. However, for years, Cooley Landing itself was closed off and inaccessible to the public because it was not safe due to toxic waste residues. The City of East Palo Alto, which had only 16 acres parkland, had long been interested in turning Cooley Landing into a park. In 2003, the city hired a design consultant and started a series of community workshops on the designs for Cooley Landing. Finally, in December of 2011, the City of East Palo Alto and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District embarked on a cleanup and restoration effort as part of a multi-phase plan to turn the site into a nature park. The first phase involved environmental cleanup, trail access, road improvements, parking, benches, walkways, and a picnic area. It was open to the public on July 21, 2012. Further construction is planned for the next 2-3 years to add interpretive and recreational elements. See the links on Cooley Landing for more information.

For further information on the Stevens Creek Trail, call (650) 903-6392. The Friends of Stevens Creek Trail is a community group working to promote the trail. They are at: McClellan Ranch Park, 22221 McClellan Road, Cupertino, CA 95014, (408) 255-5780, (415) 903-6067.

From the Cooley Landing Project ( For comments or questions regarding youth, family, and volunteer activities at Cooley Landing, please contact:

Ms. Debbie Bicknell, Youth and Family Services Manager
City of East Palo Alto
2415 University Avenue, 2nd Floor
East Palo Alto, CA  94303

For all other general questions or comments regarding Cooley Landing, please contact:

Mr. Sharon Jones, Deputy Director Community Development
City of East Palo Alto
1960 Tate Street
East Palo Alto, CA  94303

Other Trail Webpages

Alviso Marina County Park 11/27/10

Guadalupe River Trail, Hwy 101 to Alviso

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail

High Tide at the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve and Byxbee Park, 11/26/11

Access Information

Start of the Stevens Creek Trail: From the Peninsula and East Bay, to reach the El Camino Real entrance near the south end of the Stevens Creek Trail, take Hwy 101 to Hwy 85 southbound to the El Camino Real exit. The El Camino Real trail head is right next to Hwy 85. There is no parking dedicated for the trail, but public parking is nearby in shopping centers and side streets. VTA Bus Route 22 stops by the shopping center a half block from the trail head. To reach the Dale/Heatherstone entrance, currently the start of the trail, take El Camino Real east of Hwy 85. Turn right on Dale Avenue. The trail entrance is at the bridge on the corner of Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way. There is no parking lot, but you can park along the street.

Cooley Landing is at the end of Bay Road in East Palo Alto. To reach Bay Road, take University Avenue north from US 101 or south from Hwy 84. Head east on Bay Road to the end of the road. The parking lot should be open in September 2012. Otherwise, park outside the gate.

Facebook Photo Albums:

Stevens Creek Trail 1/29/12

Guadalupe River Trail, Downtown San Jose to Alviso, 2/5/12

Permanente Creek Trail, Stevens Creek, Shoreline Park, 7/1/12

Cooley Landing Links

Cooley Landing Project

MROSD: Cooley Landing

Opening Ceremony

Description and Views

This is where I started, the entrance to the Stevens Creek Trail at Dale and Heatherstone in Mountain View. I took the Stevens Creek Trail to Shoreline at Mountain View Park. This route is covered in detail in my Stevens Creek Trail Tour.

Instead of following the Bay Trail route closer to the Bay, I took a more inland route along the south end of Shoreline at Mountain View, next to the dog park. I don't recommend this route when there's a concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre, as there can be lots of traffic entering the parking lot, kicking up dust. This route passes along the north edge of the amphitheatre and crosses Penitencia Creek. This is a view north from the Penitencia Creek Bridge at the Shoreline Golf Links. The Penitencia Creek Trail begins on the south side of the bridge. This route is covered in more detail in my Shoreline Park Tour.

This section of the Bay Trail, called the Renzel Trail, runs between Bayfront Expressway and the Emily Renzel Wetlands in the Palo Alto Baylands. This route is covered in more detail in my Palo Alto Baylands Tour.

The Bay Trail ends at Faber Place. Faber Place ends at Embarcadero Road. I turned right on Embarcadero and followed it to the trail entrance at the Palo Alto Baylands. I turned left on the Marsh Front Trail, which follows around the former Palo Alto Yacht Harbor and leads to the newly-opened EcoCenter (ahead).

This used to be the Palo Alto Yacht Harbor. It has become silted-in and is now a tidal marsh.

This is the EcoCenter, housed in the renovated Sea Scouts building. It is closed on Sunday when I was there. Run by the Environmental Volunteers, it has a nature center, which is open on Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 11-1:30 and Saturday from 10-3. The boardwalk on the side of the building is actually the pedestrian route of the Bay Trail. The bike route runs behind the building.

The Marsh Front Trail ends at the San Francisquito Trail, which runs west past the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Center above, with the long wooden boardwalk leading through the Harriet Muddy Marsh to the edge of the Bay.

This a view looking northwest across the Harriet Muddy Marsh at Cooley Landing.

This is a view across the marsh at the Dumbarton Bridge, the Dumbarton Crossing train trestles, and the Hetch Hetchy pipeline.

The trail passes between the Palo Alto Airport and this channel which carries treated water from the Regional Water Quality Control Plant to the Bay. Birds flock to this channel.

The Bay Trail reaches San Francisquito Creek. A short spur leads to a bench overlooking the mouth of the creek on San Francisco Bay.

On the northwest side of San Francisquito Creek is the Faber-Laumeister Tract. In the 1900's, it was diked by Peter Faber for cattle grazing. It was purchased by the City of Palo Alto in 1944 for industrial purchases. It was never developed, but used for depositing dredge spoils from nearby harbors. It was dedicated as parkland in 1965 and open to tidal flow in 1971. The tract is actually in East Palo Alto and San Mateo County. It is now managed and patrolled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It has the largest population of endangered clapper rails in the world. In the picture above, beyond the marsh is the peninsula of Cooley Landing. The building was used by Carl Schoof as a boat repair facility.

This is the bridge over San Francisquito Creek leading to East Palo Alto.

This is a view of San Francisquito Creek looking upstream from the bridge.

This is San Francisquito Creek downstream from the bridge.

After the bridge, the Bay Trail runs ruler straight between to the Faber-Laumeister Tract on the right and East Palo Alto parks and homes on the left. This route is covered in more detail in my Ravenswood Tour.

The Faber-Laumeister Trail leads through the tract of the same name. It's a dirt trail that leads out to the edge of the Bay.

The Bay Trail runs between a power substation and the marsh. It finally reaches Bay Road.

At Bay Road is the entry to Cooley Landing. It was not open to cars when I got there, but was open to bikes and pedestrians. A few more items need to be completed before it is open to cars, probably in September 2012. The sign shows the two agencies who own Cooley Landing. East Palo Alto owns the center. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District owns the sides, as part of their Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. The District purchased part of Cooley Landing in 1981. The City of East Palo Alto has a 30-year lease with the District  to turn the entire site into a park and nature center.

To the northwest of Bay Road is Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. 1.2 miles of trails lead through the marsh to the edge of the Bay.

This paved section of trail next to Bay Road leads to Cooley Landing.

Ahead is the parking lot for Ravenswood Open Space Preserve.

These are the newly-renovated trail signboards for Ravenswood OSP.

This is the unpaved parking lot for Ravenswood OSP.

Phase 1 for Cooley Landing has been completed. This sign shows the future development phases for Cooley Landing.

This sign (distorted by the wind) shows the final plan for Cooley Landing.

This sign marks the entrance to Cooley Landing.

Here is a picnic area overlooking the Bay.

This ramp leads right down to the Bay. No fishing here.

At the end of a long jetty at the southeastern tip of the peninsula, some fishermen just caught a shark.

Near the end of the trail is a very large steelhead trout.

This bench is at the end of the trail, next to a concrete arroyo lupine.

This sign shows plans for restoring the boat house.

This is the northeast point of Cooley Landing, showing the old steel pier and north jetty. The pier was built in the late 1960's and was used to raise boats into and out of the water.

This is a view of the south jetty.

Next to the old boat house is an artist's conception of how it will be turned into a visitor center.

This is the plaza on the north side of the boat house. The boat house has been boarded up and fenced off for future restoration. The total distance I've traveled to this point is 13.1 miles.

Looking northwest across the Bay waters, you can see where the Hatch Tetchy pipeline reaches land, next to the burned out pilings of the Dumbarton Crossing train trestle. The southern part of Ravenswood OSP and the Bay Trail ends just before the crossing. On the other side of the pipeline is the northern section of Ravenswood OSP and next section of the Bay Trail. If the two sections could be connected, it would provide access to the Dumbarton Bridge and the trail to Menlo Park's Bayfront Park, as well as Facebook's headquarters in the former Sun Micro site.

This is the steel pier from the north side.

There used to be a dredge stored at Cooley Landing. It was burned by vandals in 2008. There are plans to create an interpretive exhibit about the dredge in this spot, overlooking the Dumbarton Bridge.

A concrete relief of our state flower overlooks the northwestern side of the Cooley Landing peninsula.

The endangered clapper rail lives in the pickleweed marshes along the shoreline in this area.

This is the shoreline of Ravenswood OSP at the entrance to Cooley Landing.

Phase 2 of the Cooley Landing project calls for the restoration and landscaping of Bay Road. This is Bay Road now. It should look a lot better after Phase 2.

Heading back, this is San Francisquito Creek near the Baylands Athletic Center, where the paved San Francisquito Creek Trail ends.

I head back up Embarcadero Road again to the Palo Baylands, taking the Marsh Front Trail to the right this time. The Palo Alto Yacht Harbor marsh is full at high tide. The chevrons on the hills of Byxbee Park are in the background.

Byxbee Park was initially built on a partially-closed landfill. Now that the landfill is totally closed, the park will gradually expand to take all of the former landfill area.

This is the pole field at Byxbee Park, designed to be reminiscent of pier pilings.

In the slough next to Byxbee Park is a temporary art piece called "Water Lilies." Recycled plastic water bottles make up the floating mats. The work is a comment on water pollution, recycling, reuse, and environmental sustainability. It will be in place until September 2012.

Across the mouth of the Palo Alto Yacht Harbor is a pier leading to the sailing station. Small boats and wind surfers can access the Bay from here.

The bare skeleton of Hangar One at Moffett Field and the NASA wind tunnels can be seen over the sloughs and marsh of the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin.

There are lots of runners, walkers, and bicyclists on the wide, flat dirt trails of the Palo Alto Baylands. This is the Adobe Creek Loop Trail. Ahead is a short section where the open waters of the Bay lap against the shoreline.

The channel in the foreground leads to the Bay. The tide gates control the water to Mountain View Slough in the background. In the background are the hangars at Moffett Field.

Back in Shoreline at Mountain View Park, this is the Coast Casey Forebay.

On the other side of the trail is this viewing platform on Charleston Slough, a popular spot for bird watchers and photographers.

The Bay Trail in Shoreline Park runs above Mountain View Slough.

The trail turns inland along Permanente Creek.

The trail runs between Whisman Slough and retired landfill hills that are now a protected habitat for burrowing owls.

Ahead is the start of the Stevens Creek Trail.

This is the start of the Stevens Creek Trail. In the background is the intake for NASA's giant retired wind tunnel.

This is the Moffett Blvd. bridge on the Stevens Creek Trail.

This is the huge bridge on the Stevens Creek Trail that crosses Central Expressway, the Caltrain and Light Rail Tracks, and Evelyn Avenue.

On the home stretch. The Stevens Creek Trail runs through Sleeper Park south of El Camino Real.

Just before the new bridge over Hwy 85, there is nicely-landscaped park area with lots of new plantings.

I finally reach the end of the trail at sunset, a total distance of 25.8 miles.


More Cooley Landing Links:
Palo Alto Baylands:
Stevens Creek Trail:

Web page developed: 8/15/12 by Ronald Horii
Information and opinions expressed here are the responsibility of the author.