The 1,700-acre Hayward Regional Shoreline provides habitat to hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. Along this stretch of shoreline the Bay Trail extends for 8 miles, past marshes and creeks to the San Leandro Marina, with its popular park and jogging course. The shoreline trail is almost level and mostly well-graded, firm gravel, with only a few areas of uneven surfacing, including several bridges where the boards make for an uncomfortable ride. Between Grant Avenue and the San Leandro Marina, the trail is paved. There are four entry points to the trail, so you can take a long ride, watching the light change the look of the Oakland and San Francisco skylines, or make it a short trip. There is no shade along the way, so bring a hat.
Changes in weather can alter this shoreline dramatically. Sometimes cold, fierce winds blow and the water is gray; at other times it ripples and glints in the sun. At low tide, mudflats stretch for yards, while high tides bring acres of open water. Time your visit for a receding tide to see crowds of wading birds foraging at the water’s edge.
Visitor center: Just north of the San Mateo Bridge, a wooden building on stilts houses the Shoreline Interpretive Center, a good place to start your trip. You can get a sense of the natural environment by studying a large map and exploring exhibits and materials here; a few interactive exhibits accommodate both seated and standing users. Local fish and invertebrates are displayed in several aquaria.You can also borrow binoculars to take out on the trail.
Interpretive Center to Hayward Landing
Trailhead: Interpretive center on Breakwater Ave. You can also start from the Winton Ave. or Grant Ave. entrances using short (less than .5 miles) connector trails, and head south to the interpretive center.
The main trail is a gravel levee service road closed to cars. The landfill loop is likely to be muddy in wet weather.
The interpretive center is a great starting point for exploring 5 miles of gravel trail, either on your own or with one of the many ranger-led programs. You will get close to water birds, especially just after high tide, and will travel on riprap levees, passing marshes and channels where habitat is being restored. On our late fall visit we saw several long-billed curlews wading in Hayward Marsh, which is both fresh and brackish processed wastewater. Noise from the San Mateo Bridge to the south fades as you go north and pass Cogswell Marsh, where you’ll see the tide running in and out under long bridges.
At a little over a mile out you can add to your excursion and take the 1.2-mile loop around Cogswell Marsh, a salt marsh restoration project that was completed in 1980. Stop and admire the views of the Bay, mudflats, and San Francisco’s skyline.
After another half-mile you reach a landfill loop. The paths that climb this low, flat hill are steep enough to deter most wheelchair riders, but the adventurous may enjoy the view from the top, where a nearly level trail travels out to overlook the Bay and other hikers passing along the trail. Back on the shoreline trail, you reach Hayward’s Landing in half a mile.
This segment can be quite rough, especially where fresh gravel has been laid.
From the West Winton Avenue entry, two paths, one on each side of a flood-control channel, lead .5 miles west to the shoreline levee trail and Hayward’s Landing, a former docking area for ships transporting salt from the nearby evaporation ponds. The trailhead for the paved northern path is just outside the park entrance; the southern trail, which leaves from the parking lot, is dirt and has a very slight downhill slope. Grasses along these trails are tall and thick in spring. At the shoreline, green and red pickleweed tangles with orange marsh dodder. Heading north from Hayward’s Landing on the shoreline trail, a small rise demands some effort, and the entire ride is pretty jostling and may be uncomfortable in a manual wheelchair. You pass extensive pickleweed marshes, seasonal wetlands, and acres of mudflats teeming with birds. From Hayward’s Landing to Grant Avenue is 2.25 miles.
This is a paved bike path, complete with center line and mileage marks. This is the easiest segment of the Bay Trail, being entirely paved. You cross two small bridges that are not entirely smooth.
To connect to the paved trail leading to the San Leandro Marina, follow a paved path from the parking lot around a locked service gate and parallel to San Lorenzo Creek. Turn right to head inland on the other side of the creek, then left alongside a condominium development. For the next .5 miles, called the Heron Bay Trail, you travel along a 406-acre restored salt marsh at Roberts Landing, once a major shipping point for Alameda County. Interpretive panels describe local plants and wildlife. You cross one more pedestrian bridge as the trail heads west again to skirt the shoreline. I found this stretch very attractive, with channels near the trail where wading birds and ducks are easily seen. Approaching Marina Park from the south, the Bay is on your left, its waves lapping against riprap; on your right is the Tony Lema Golf Course.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
The southernmost entrance at Breakwater Ave. has no offstreet parking, but several accessible spaces are in front of the interpretive center. West Winton Ave. has no designated spaces in the two large lots with gravel surfacing. The Grant Ave. lot has designated accessible spaces on level asphalt.
Fully accessible restrooms are in the interpretive center (available only when it is open). An accessible portable toilet is at the trail’s start on Breakwater Ave. The next accessible public restroom on the shoreline is 7 miles away at the San Leandro Marina; there are no other accessible restrooms along the entire route.
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.