This post combines two separate training walks on the Alameda Creek Regional Trail, which is partly in Fremont and partly along the border between Fremont and Union City in the San Francisco East Bay. As the name suggests, the trail follows the lower portion of Alameda Creek, starting at the mouth of Niles Canyon. The creek then becomes the Alameda County Flood Control Channel closer to the Bay. There is a separate trail on each side of the channel. I generally train on the south side, which is paved, and which runs just over 11 miles from Niles Canyon to the edge of the Bay. The length of the trail makes it very convenient for longer-distance training, since the longer walks for marathon training can be accomplished with minimal loop-backs.
The GPS track corresponds to a 24-mile training walk, and the pictures are from an 18-mile training walk taken several months earlier. On the earlier occasion I purposely wanted to moderate my pace, so I took my camera and made a point of stopping for photos during the last 6 miles. For the longer walk I didn’t plan to stop, and I didn’t want the additional weight of my little point-and-shoot camera; I figured it was better to carry additional water.
The trail is relatively flat, with about half of the elevation gain and loss coming from underpasses. There are about 10 underpasses along the trail: mostly regular streets, plus railroad, Bay Area Rapid Transit, an interstate, and a pedestrian bridge. When I train on this trail I start at an access point near the middle and walk the upper portion followed by the lower portion. The hardest part is the last 4 underpasses between the Bay and the trailhead – most likely because, for example on my 24-mile walk, I’ve already walked 21 miles and my hamstrings are tired.
Typically I find interesting birds to watch as I walk along the trail. And, depending on how clear the weather is, it may be possible to see up to six iconic Bay Area peaks. The day I took these photos, I only started photographing after I turned around at the Bay end of the trail, and there was enough of an afternoon marine layer that I missed some possible peak sightings.
Mission Peak is visible from most of the trail (going eastbound) and is only about 6 – 14 miles away, depending on where you are on the trail. In the picture it is the peak at the left, in the background. About halfway across the picture is Mt Hamilton, famous for housing Lick Observatory. In the foreground are the hills of Coyote Hills Regional Park, which the trail passes about 2 miles from the Bay end.
Mt Diablo is visible primarily from the outer portions of the trail; as you walk toward the main shoreline it disappears behind the East Bay Hills in the foreground.
The day of my 24-mile walk I also was able to see Mt Tamalpais, about 35 miles away to the northwest, with the San Francisco skyline faintly in the foreground. Also, I could see Mt Umunhum and Loma Prieta about 30-35 miles away in almost the exact opposite direction.
One of the more common, but beautiful, birds is the common, or great, egret. The beautiful reflection indicates that the wind was calm the day I took pictures. For my 24-mile walk there was a steady breeze from the northwest.
Snowy egrets are slightly less common, but still frequently seen. They are smaller than great egrets and have black bills, yellow feet, and wispy plumage at the back of the upper neck. Note the gentle wake behind this one. At times I have seen a grouping of a great egret, snowy egret, and great blue heron happily feeding within 20 feet or so of each other.
In the fall and winter months white pelicans are plentiful. Although listed as “uncommon” in the summer, I saw dozens of them flying overhead during my 24-mile walk as they congregated in a nearby salt pond. With large wings and distinctive black trailing wing plumage, they are beautiful to observe in flight.
On my earlier walk there was quite a congregation of pintails in a couple of the salt ponds. I took several pictures, and, upon closer inspection, many of the ducks seemed to be getting ready for twilight, with their heads tucked in next to their wings.
The trail on the other side of the channel is unpaved and is intended for equestrian use. The day I had my camera I noticed a pair of riders. Coincidentally, the open water part of the channel was just the right distance away from the levee-top trail for the reflection to be perfectly captured.
After starting to get back into town but just before the I-880 underpass, I noticed a beautiful muslim building, which I later learned houses the Islamic Society of East Bay.
Although I tend to visit this trail for training walks, it has much to offer for other users. I often encounter walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and bicyclists along the trail, the latter in particular on the way to and from Coyote Hills Regional Park.