San Francisco Bay Trail: Redwood Shores

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Redwood Shores, at the northwest end of Redwood City, is an intimate combination of housing, commerce, and ecological reserves. It lies on kind of a peninsula of land between the Belmont and Steinberger Sloughs with an extensive network of lagoons. A segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail makes a loop around the perimeter of the peninsula, connects to an access path across US-101, and continues into Foster City.   I had not explored the area before, so this hike/walk turned out to be an excellent introduction.

My hike consisted of a main loop, with a smaller loop and a few side excursions for a total length of 12.4 miles. The orange dot denotes my starting and ending point, at the Redwood City Shore Dogs Park. I went clockwise around the main loop.

GPS track

GPS track

Since the route was essentially along the San Francisco Bay shore, the elevation gain was minimal, only about 120 feet. Much of the perimeter of Redwood Shores is the Redwood Shores Ecological Reserve, a unit of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Nearby areas across the sloughs are parts of Bair Island Ecological Reserve and the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was an excellent place for viewing ducks and shorebirds; in fact, I saw such a variety that I’ll write a separate post about them.

The first section of trail goes roughly southwest along a levee between the edge of a residential area and Steinberger Slough. The path is justifiably a popular walking trail for local residents. Here and there I found patches of a pretty yellow flowering plant, Bermuda sorrel (or Oxalis pes-caprae). I did not realize it at the time, but this pretty plant is considered to be an invasive species; I am not sure how it may be considered to be damaging to the local ecology, though.

photo of Bermuda sorrel

Bermuda sorrel

The Bay Trail walking path is on a levee which serves as a divider between the slough and the residential area. On the city side of the path there were some white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys), with distinctive striping on the head.

picture of white-crowned sparrow

White-crowned sparrow

Due to the location near the Bay, there were also some plants with these pretty, pale snails. I have noticed them recently in a few places near the shore of San Francisco Bay, always on tall stalks of plants. They seem to be stationary, so they might be in a state of aestivation, somewhat like dormancy. I do not know the species name, though it might be a Mediterranean coastal snail, which has been introduced into California from its native Mediterranean region.

image of snail, possibly Mediterranean coastal snail, aestivating on a plant stalk

Snail, possibly Mediterranean coastal snail, aestivating on a plant stalk

Just before turning to cross the base of the peninsula there was a nice view across Steinberger Slough, with Bair Island and part of Redwood City in the close background and the East Bay Hills farther behind.

photo of reflection in Steinberger Slough

Reflection in Steinberger Slough

The path of the Bay Trail turns right and passes behind a hangar area of the San Carlos Airport, where I could see numerous small planes parked. The Trail then goes along Twin Dolphin Drive through a commercial area, where I was particularly aware of several planes making their final approach to land at the airport. The Trail then tees at Marine Parkway next to the huge Oracle campus, where one of the America’s Cup boats has been put on display in the lagoon. It was impressive to see the boat from a much closer perspective than viewing the race!

picture of Team Oracle’s America’s Cup boat

Team Oracle’s America’s Cup boat

There is a smaller loop in the Bay Trail, essentially going around the Oracle campus. At the tee I turned left to go part way around the loop to a small bridge that crosses the Belmont Slough. After crossing the bridge I turned left to follow the trail across US-101 on a bike/pedestrian bridge called Children’s Bridge. This bridge creates safe access to Redwood Shores and Foster City to residents of Belmont. After crossing US-101 and then returning to the small bridge, I continued for a short distance into Foster City. I’ll return some other time to walk the next section of the Bay Trail. After these explorations I re-crossed the small bridge to continue around the small loop around Island Park. I even took a very short detour to close the loop before continuing.

Along the way there were areas covered with ice plant, which is apparently native to South Africa.

image of ice plant flower

Ice plant flower

As the Bay Trail continues generally northeast along the shore of Belmont Slough it passes more commercial and residential areas. In one area I became aware of a flock of small birds that were feeding in some landscaping on the inland side of the trail. I paused for a few minutes, trying to get a good look at the birds to make an identification; they were fairly nondescript and did not hold still for either viewing or photos! However, I was patient or lucky enough to get this clear view, which facilitated identification as a bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus).

photo of bushtit, one of a flock feeding in some landscaping

Bushtit, one of a flock feeding in some landscaping

About 1.5 miles after leaving the Oracle campus there is a side trail that leads to an observation point along the Belmont Slough, where there were more sightings of shorebirds. At the outer end of Redwood Shores there is another slough, Bay Slough, with a segment of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge on the other side. Where the Bay Trail turns right to follow Bay Slough there is a nice view of the nearby San Mateo Bridge.

picture of San Mateo Bridge

San Mateo Bridge

There was also a pretty view of Mt Diablo, about 30 miles away with Hayward visible on the San Francisco Bay’s East shore. Note the mist above the intervening rows of hills.

image of Mt Diablo across San Francisco Bay

Mt Diablo across San Francisco Bay

I continued the remaining 1.2 miles or so back to the trailhead at the Dogs Park. Along the way I took yet another short detour to an observation area where there were two men with spotting scopes doing an annual bird count. After reaching the trailhead I did a brief exploration, shown at the upper right of the GPS track, along what turned out to be a dead-end section of trail along the levee; this is planned as a future segment of Bay Trail. While walking out the trail there was another nice view of the East Bay hills, with the distinctive Coyote Hills in the foreground. The mist I had noticed 45 minutes earlier was even more pronounced. I mention this because it’s somewhat unusual for afternoon mist to form inland without being preceded by mist over the Bay. The sun was just setting behind me when I took this picture.

photo of misty East Bay hills, including Coyote Hills, across San Francisco Bay

Misty East Bay hills, including Coyote Hills, across San Francisco Bay

This was a very enjoyable hike along the Bay Shore, and I look forward to return to the area to continue hiking the San Francisco Bay Trail to the north.

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One Response to San Francisco Bay Trail: Redwood Shores

  1. Pingback: Birding along the San Francisco Bay Trail at Redwood Shores | trailhiker

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