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Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Fremont)

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first and largest urban national wildlife refuge in the United States, is just one piece of the larger San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Encompassing 30,000 acres, the Don Edwards refuge consists primarily of tidal marsh, salt ponds, mud flats, and seasonal wetlands. It provides habitat for...
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first and largest urban national wildlife refuge in the United States, is just one piece of the larger San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Encompassing 30,000 acres, the Don Edwards refuge consists primarily of tidal marsh, salt ponds, mud flats, and seasonal wetlands. It provides habitat for nine species of federally listed threatened or endangered species, including the salt marsh harvest mouse, California clapper rail, and western snowy plover, and is home to 227 species of birds. As a safe haven for vast numbers of birds traveling the Pacific Flyway, it is a prime destination for bird watching.

Public entry points for visiting Don Edwards are at its headquarters at the refuge's north end in Fremont, and at Alviso, which is around the southern tip of San Francisco Bay. More than 30 miles of trails lead along sloughs and past salt ponds on San Francisco Bay that are being restored to a mix of habitats. Depending on the season and the stage of salt development, the water ranges in color from green to mauve. A visitor center in Fremont and the Environmental Education Center in Alviso provide information about the refuge and how to explore it.

At the Fremont location there’s an accessible fishing pier at the end of Marshlands Road; from there you can also pick up a section of the Bay Trail that crosses the approximately 1.5-mile Dumbarton Bridge to San Mateo County. From Marshlands Road you can also follow the Quarry Trail to Coyote Hills Regional Park via a bridge that crosses Highway 84.

Visitor center:
The small visitor center, which overlooks LaRiviere Marsh––named for environmentalist Florence LaRiviere, who played a pivotal role in establishing the refuge––has exhibits describing endangered species and migratory birds. Through multimedia exhibits you can learn about the refuge, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, and flora and fauna found at the refuge. Behind the center is a viewing area with a few interpretive panels and a large map of the refuge.

Trail/Pathway Details

Tidelands Trail

Trailhead: From the main parking lot past the visitor center, follow the sidewalk across the service road

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

Terrain: Moderately Firm

Description

Before starting out on the trail, you can travel a short distance up a very steep service road to a platform with broad views of the marshlands, salt ponds, sloughs, and Bay. Farther uphill are more trails, but they have very steep grades. To begin your hike, from the service road travel a few hundred feet downhill to...
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LaRiviere

Trailhead: Visitor center parking lot

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Moderately Firm

The ride was quite bumpy and grass was overgrown on the section heading north from the elevated boardwalk.

Obstacles: A step at the bridge is not passable in a motorized wheelchair.

Description

Trail maps indicate that this trail is accessible, but a 6-inch threshold at a bridge at the southern end of the trail caused me to turn back. There are no Bay views; instead, you look out across LaRiviere Marsh, with signs of industry on the horizon. The trail may be more appealing in spring and fall, when more...
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Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

At the visitor center and in the large lot just beyond it, and at the end of Marshlands Rd. by the fishing pier. Outside the visitor center. An accessible portable toilet is halfway out the fishing pier, and another is by the picnic tables and overlook at the start of the lower Tidelands Trail.
At the visitor center, the trail junction for the Learning Center and Tidelands Trail, and the Learning Center. Halfway along the boardwalk over Newark Slough, an area that juts out over the marsh has a few tables, and there is one past the second bridge crossing.
View overlooking Newark Slough Trail
View overlooking Newark Slough Trail (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

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Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.fws.gov/refuge/don_edwards_san_francisco_bay/
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Address: 1 Marshlands Rd.
Nearest City: Fremont
Phone: (510) 792-0222
Hours: Trails: Daily, 9 am-5 pm. Fremont visitor center: Tues.-Sun., 9 am-5 pm.
Fees: None
Dogs: Not allowed
Public Transportation: AC Transit
Useful Links: Trail map
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, June 29, 2014
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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Accessible Wheelchair Icon looks like a wheelchair with balloon wheelsBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing
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