Alameda Creek Trail - Coyote Hills to I880

Coyote Hills and North Marsh from the Alameda Creek Trail

Introduction
Access
Trail Description and Views

Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Southside from I-880 to Niles Canyon
Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Northside From Niles Canyon to I-880
Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Northside I-880 to SF Bay
Go to the Coyote Hills - Part 1 - Apay Way to SF Bay
Go to the Coyote Hills - Part 2 - Hills, Marshes, and Trails

Return to Bay Trail Guided Photo Tours page

Introduction

Alameda Creek is the largest and longest creek in the East Bay. The Alameda Creek Watershed drains some 633 square miles in the Livermore Valley, flows through narrow Niles Canyon, then runs through the flat plains of Fremont and Union City before it drains into San Francisco Bay. The creek used to flood the area below Niles Canyon regularly until it was tamed and channelized. The floods of 1955 and 1958 prompted the creation of the Alameda Flood Control District. The end result was the creation of the huge Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel. In places, the channel is some 200 feet wide and over 2 stories deep. In 1973, the Alameda Creek Trail was opened, allowing recreational access to the levees along the creek and flood control channel.

The Alameda Creek Regional Trail runs on both sides of Alameda Creek and the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel from Niles Canyon to San Francisco Bay. It is a major feeder trail to the Bay Trail, which begins at Coyote Hills Regional Park. A portion of the northside trail near the Bay is also part of the Bay Trail. Each side of the Alameda Creek Trail is about 12 miles long, making the entire trail one of the longest multi-use trails in the Bay Area. The southside trail is paved and used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and skaters. The northside trail is mostly unpaved and is used by equestrians, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. Both sides run through some densely-populated areas and are heavily used. The sections of the trail from Ardenwood Blvd./Union City Blvd. to the Bay are parts of the Bay Trail (see this map). This tour describes the southside trail segment from Coyote Hills Regional Park to Interstate 880. Other tours follow the trail to Niles Canyon on the southside, then back to San Francisco Bay on the northside. The final section, from Coyote Hills to San Francisco Bay on the southside is covered in the tour on Coyote Hills. (See the links above.)

The tour begins in Coyote Hills Regional Park near the visitor center. Around the center are parking lots, picnic areas, lawns, restrooms, and drinking fountains. Inside the center are exhibits on the Ohlone Indians who once inhabited the area for 2200 years, as well as models and displays of the wetlands and animals that can currently be seen here.


Access Information

To get to Coyote Hills Regional Park from the East Bay, take I880 to Hwy 84 westbound, exit at Ardenwood Blvd. northbound. Turn left on Commerce Drive, then go straight onto Patterson Ranch Road to the park entrance. There is an entry fee. Follow the road to the end and park by the visitors center. This tour begins at the end of the park road past the visitor center.

From the Peninsula, take Hwy 84 eastbound over the Dumbarton Bridge. Exit at Paseo Padre Parkway northbound. Turn left at Patterson Ranch Road. Follow the directions above.


Trail Description and Views


Click on the following pictures to see a larger version. The mileage readings below are from a bicycle odometer..


This is the start of the Bayview Trail at the end of the park road. The gate blocks vehicle traffic. The trail is paved.

To the right is the large Main Marsh, a freshwater marsh lined with tules and cattails.

On the far side of the Main Marsh is the rock formation called Lizard Rock.

This is a view looking back along the trail to the visitor center area.

This is a silhouette of the hills to the left of the trail.

This is another view of the hills to the left of the trail.

0.28 miles: This is a view across the Main Marsh looking back towards the visitor center from the junction of the Lizard Rock Trail.

Wildflowers grow on the hills to the left of the trail in the springtime.

The trail rises up slightly as it passes through more hills. This is a view looking back.

To the right of the trail is the North Marsh.

Ahead is Alameda Creek. There are small hills in the wetlands north of Alameda Creek.

0.73 miles: A short connector path leads from the Bayview Trail to the Alameda Creek Trail.

This is the Alameda Creek Trail as it heads to the Bay next to salt ponds. From here it is a little over 2 miles to the mouth of the creek on San Francisco Bay. The trail to the Bay is covered in the Coyote Hills tour.

This is a view from the corner of the Bayview Trail, looking over the salt ponds west of the Coyote Hills. These are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Bayview Trail wraps around the bayside of the Coyote Hills. It is covered in the Coyote Hills tour. For now, drop down to Alameda Creek and turn right up the creek.

Along the Alameda Creek Trail is an interpretive sign. Birds can be seen feeding in the creek. A hill is on the opposite shore. The unpaved north-side Alameda Creek Trail runs below it. Alameda Creek is a brackish tidal slough at this point.

This is a view looking east along the trail towards the East Bay hills.

0.99 miles: To the right are the waters of the slough running through the North Marsh below the Coyote Hills.

1.14 miles: To the right of the trail are gates controlling the flow of water between the North Marsh and Alameda Creek.

This is the Alameda Creek side of the gates.

1.25 miles: There is a rest stop with a picnic table and bench by the side of the trail. This is a view looking back across the North Marsh towards the Coyote Hills.

This is a view looking across the dry end of the North Marsh from the rest stop.

1.42 miles: This is looking across dryer grasslands east of the North Marsh. In the foreground are coyote bushes.

There is a small grove of trees by the trail.

This is a view of the opposite bank of the creek and the northside trail.

There is another rest area with a picnic table shaded by trees.

A freshwater marsh begins along the south side of the trail.

1.94 miles: An interpretive sign explains the workings of the DUST marsh. The DUST (Demonstration Urban Stormwater Treatment) Marsh is an experimental 55-acre freshwater marsh that was created in 1983. Its purpose is to use marsh plants and organisms to remove toxins from the stormwater runoff from residential and commercial areas. The DUST Trail drops down from the Alameda Creek Trail and runs along the DUST Marsh, heading back west towards the Coyote Hills.

2.08 miles: Beyond the DUST Marsh are open grasslands that were once part of the Patterson Ranch. The Patterson family's ranch house is now part of Ardenwood Historic Farm to the east.

This is a view up the Alameda Creek Trail. Trees line the trail.

2.09 miles: Ahead is the Ardenwood Blvd. bridge.

Ardenwood Blvd. is ahead. Trees line both sides of the trails. Grassy fields are on the right.

2.54 miles: At the Ardenwood Blvd. bridge, the trail passes under the bridge. Ardenwood Blvd. ends on the south side of the bridge. Union City Blvd. begins on the north side of the bridge. A bench is on the side of the trail for resting. One path leads up to the road. By crossing over the bridge, the north side of the Alameda Creek Trail can be reached. Another path drops down to a dirt road along the field to the right. It parallels the Alameda Creek Trail and heads west on the south side of a long, narrow marsh channel.

2.62 miles: This is the Alameda Creek flood channel east of Ardenwood Blvd. The channel is wide to handle stormwater runoff, but has little water in the dryer months.

2.94 miles: There is a small creek, Crandal Creek, that parallels the trail starting from Ardenwood Blvd. Here it curves off to the right. Small bridges cross over it. This area is on private property.

There are open farm fields here. In the distance, Paseo Padre Parkway passes over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

This is the Union Pacific Railroad bridge over Alameda Creek. The north-side trail can be seen going under the bridge on the opposite bank. The bridge is off-limits to pedestrians.

3.31 miles: On the east side of the railroad bridge, the suburbs begin. Paved walkways branch off from the creek trail and run through a strip of greenbelt along the road below.

3.83 miles: Ahead is the Alvarado Blvd./Fremont Blvd. bridge. The I880 bridge can be seen just beyond it. The trail reaches the Alvarado Blvd. bridge at 4.00 miles and ducks under it. The Alvarado Blvd. bridge can be used to access the northside trail.

4.14 miles: This is the I880 bridge and the end of this segment of the trail. Continue on to the end of the trail at Niles Canyon or turn around and go back to Coyote Hills.

Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Southside from I-880 to Niles Canyon
Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Northside From Niles Canyon to I-880
Go to the Alameda Creek Trail - Northside I-880 to SF Bay
Go to the Coyote Hills - Part 1 - Apay Way to SF Bay
Go to the Coyote Hills - Part 2 - Hills, Marshes, and Trails
Return to Bay Trail Guided Photo Tours page


Developed: 6/6/2000, updated 10/8/00. Photographs and trail notes by Christopher Horii, Web page design and text by Ronald Horii.
Information and opinions here are the responsibility of the authors.