Trail Description and Views
to the Alameda Creek Trail - Coyote Hills to I-880 (southside) tour
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
Go to the Hayward Regional Shoreline tour
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The upper portion of Alameda Creek, as it approaches Niles, is dammed up by a series of rubber dams, forming a string of lakes. The most scenic part of all is where the trail ends in Niles Canyon. Here the creek looks its most natural, running over a rocky bed, surrounded by riparian vegetation. In-between Niles Canyon and the Coyote Hills, the creek is a wide, artificial-looking, ruler-straight flood control channel, lined with riprap boulders. In the summer, the creek here may be a series of mud puddles or may dry up completely. Still, the trail here is lined with trees and is away from traffic. The wilder upper portions of the creek in Niles Canyon are planted with trout and offer good fishing. However, salmon and steelhead can still be found running up the highly channelized creek. There are grassroots efforts underway to improve the creek's habitats for these fish and other species.
This section of the Alameda Creek Trail runs by several rest and recreational areas: the Beard Staging Area, Northgate Trail Park, Model Mariners Pond, and the Niles Staging Area. The trail ends at the mouth of Niles Canyon in the historic Fremont community of Niles. For more information about Niles, see the next segment of the trail, the northside from Niles Canyon to I-880.
Though this tour begins at I-880, there is no direct access from the freeway. The closest access point is from Alvarado Blvd. Take the Fremont Blvd./Alvarado Blvd.exit from I-880 and head north. Alvarado Blvd. crosses over Alameda Creek and provides access to the trails on both sides of the creek. The best place to park is along Lowry Road before David Jones Park or along the side streets in this neighborhood. Cross the Alvarado Blvd. bridge to reach the southside trail. This tour begins on the southside trail, heads up Niles Canyon, then returns on the northside trail.
The other alternative is to begin at the end of the trail in Niles Canyon and head west. This is recommended for afternoon tours, since you will be riding into the wind at the start of the trip, and will have a tailwind assist at the end of the trip, even though you will be riding slightly uphill. To get there from the north, take I-880 to Alvarado-Niles Road east. It becomes Niles Blvd. Take it all the way to Niles Canyon Road. Turn right on Old Canyon Road to the Niles Staging Area. From the south, take I-880 to Decoto Road. Turn right on Niles Blvd., and follow the directions above.
Click here for transit information on how to get to the Alameda Creek Trail. One way to get to there is to take the BART to the Union City BART station. From there, the trail can be reached by bus or bike by going down Decoto Road to the trail crossing.
The Bay Trail route runs north along city streets from Alameda Creek, running mostly through residential, commercial, and industrial areas. It does not see much in the way of natural scenery until it crosses Hwy 92 and reaches the Hayward Regional Shoreline. To the south, it runs through Coyote Hills Regional Park and the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark. A branch of the trail runs by Ardenwood Historic Farm. The Bay Trail also crosses the Dumbarton Bridge to Menlo Park and Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. (See this map.)
Alameda Creek is a wide, deep flood control channel, lined with large rocks. Creek access is forbidden and dangerous.
There is a community garden and field with shade trees to the right of the trail. These are behind a locked fence, on Water District land, so they are not easily accessible to the neighborhood, though they are not fenced off from the trail. The trail runs parallel to Sanderling Drive. Homes line the other side of the street.
At 0.3 miles, a concrete stairway leads through a gap in the fence to provide trail access at the corner of Sanderling Drive and Turnstone Lane.
At 0.6 miles, a path leads down to the Beard Staging Area.
This small park has a parking lot, tree-shaded picnic areas with BBQ pits, a restroom, and water. The trail then runs behind fenced backyards of houses, with no gates to the trail. Oak trees provide shade. At 0.8 miles, the trail passes behind wooden backyard fences, with gates opening onto the trail. The fences wind in and out away from the trail, creating triangular mini-parks along the way.
Across Alameda Creek is the mouth of Dry Creek. It is the only creek that
flows into the main Alameda Creek channel without going through flood gates.
At 1.1 miles, the fences open up, revealing a path through a greenbelt that runs through a suburban neighborhood.
This path, the Northgate Trail Park, runs south along a path lined with landscaping and lawns. There is a playground mid-way. Paseo Padre Parkway interrupts the trail near Whitehead Place. The trail begins again and ends on Chaucer Drive. Chaucer Drive can be taken to the right to Cornwallis Place. At the end of the court is a path to Paseo Padre Parkway. Across Paseo Padre is Fremont's Northgate Park. This large park has playing fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, restrooms, and picnic areas.
Meanwhile, the Alameda Creek Trail continues on, separated from the backyards of homes next to the trail by a chain link fence, with some gates.
A wide spot on the right side of the trail is shaded with pine trees.
Ahead is the Decoto Road Bridge. At 1.6 miles, the trail runs under Decoto Road. Paths lead up to Decoto Road, which can be used to access the other side of the trail.
Beyond Decoto Road are more houses backed against the trail. The trail is more open, with scattered oak trees providing shade. The trail runs straight. Ahead, the Isherwood Bridge can be seen.
At 1.9 miles, the houses backing up to the trail end, and Paseo Padre Parkway begins. Eucalyptus and other trees line the trail and the road. The trail runs next to wide Paseo Padre Parkway. At 2.1 is a service gate from the trail to the parkway. There is no parking along the road, but there are bike lanes.
At 2.4 miles, the trail runs under the Isherwood Way Bridge. A bench is on the other side of the bridge. The trail continues to run next to Paseo Padre Parkway. Sweet gum trees, eucalyptus, cypress, oaks, and pines provide shade.
Across the creek, the northside trail can be seen. Beyond that is the Quarry Lakes Regional Park. This will be seen close up on the return trip.
At 2.7 miles, Paseo Padre Parkway veers away from the trail, which begins to run behind fenced backyards again. This time, the residences are elevated a few feet above the trail.
At 2.9 miles, a gate lead to a private condominium complex. The trail runs next to a retaining wall below the road fronting the complex. It then runs next to houses and apartments.
At 3.2 miles, the trail runs up to and under the Sequoia Road Bridge.
This narrow concrete bridge is now for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only. The road to the right leading to the bridge runs through the private apartment complex.
The apartments run along the trail for a short distance, then a large percolation pond begins.
Paseo Padre Parkway runs along the south side of the pond. A fence prevents access to the pond from the creek trail.
At 3.5 miles, a rubber dam is inflated across the creek in the dry season, turning the creek into a long pond behind it.
In the winter and spring, the dam is deflated, along the creek to pass by unimpeded.
At 3.6 miles, the percolation pond to the right of the trail ends, and a new housing development begins. A steel fence surrounds this neighborhood.
At 3.8 miles is a gate leading to a park next to the trail. This is a private park for residents only.
At 4.0 miles, the trail passes under the BART train bridge, then past a series of concrete "teeth" below a small concrete dam. Past the dam, the water level is higher. The trail runs past a gravel road leading to the right, and then runs under a railroad bridge.
Past the railroad bridge is another rubber dam.
Above the rubber dam, a sign on the right points to the "Model Mariners" on the right. A gravel road parallels the trail next to an open field.
The creek is a wide, deep pond, with parkland on the opposite shore.
At 4.2 miles a picnic table is on the right of the trail. The gravel road T's off, with a branch leading south to the beach of a large pond. This is the Model Mariners pond, which is used for sailing model boats. The gravel road runs above the shore of the long pond and continues to parallel the trail.
At 4.7 miles, the Model Mariners pond ends. On the far shore are old railroad cars and a rock processing plant. Dirt trails lead down to the shore of the pond and run along its edge. A gravel road continues to parallel the creek trail, with railroad tracks beyond that. Eucalyptus trees provide shade.
At 5.1 miles is another rubber dam, then a railroad bridge. The trail drops under the bridge. At this point, the creek waters are at the same level as the trail. Then trail then rises up above the creek. The hills of Niles Canyon are closer. The name "Niles" can be seen in large letters on the hills to the left.
At 5.3 miles, the trail runs under the Mission Blvd. bridge. At this point, the trail is separated from the creek by a concrete wall. This is the most unusual undercrossing on the creek. It actually runs about 5 feet below the creek level. It comes up and runs behind a construction yard, then a mobile home park. Eucalyptus trees shade the trail.
At 5.6 miles, the trail runs under the Old Canyon Road Bridge, then curves to the right.
It enters the Niles Staging Area parking lot.
Alameda Creek here has a more natural appearance.
This park has shaded picnic areas, BBQ's, restrooms, water, and a parking lot.
At 5.8 miles, the paved trail ends just as Alameda Creek emerges from Niles Canyon, looking like a wild mountain stream. To the right is a locked old stone building. Fences prevent immediate creek access, but the banks are open beyond. A narrow dirt trail continues to follow the creek into the canyon.
This is the end of the trail. Turn around and head back. To get to the
trail, take the ramp up to the Old Canyon Road Bridge, then turn right
to cross over the bridge.