Exploring the SF Bay Trail: Part 1 from Fruitvale to San Leandro

April 22, 2013



Biking Distance (13 miles, estimate) Duration (2 hours with 30 minute lunch)

Start: Fruitvale BART  End: San Leandro BART

I recently explored part of the SF Bay Trail by biking it with my friend Paul Backhurst. I had never been on the section of the trail from Fruitvale to San Leandro and I wanted to see what the experience is like.

The Bay Trail is a planned recreational corridor that, when complete, will encircle San Francisco and San Pablo Bays with a continuous 500-mile network of bicycling and hiking trails. It will connect the shoreline of all nine Bay Area counties, link 47 cities, and cross the major toll bridges in the region. To date, approximately 310 miles of the alignment—over 60 percent of the Bay Trail’s ultimate length—have been completed.

Senate Bill 100, authored by then-state Senator Bill Lockyer and passed into law in 1987, directed the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to develop a plan for this “ring around the Bay,” including a specific alignment for the Bay Trail. The local Measure DD coalition and Waterfront Action have a very informative website that shows the key gaps along the trail in Oakland.

Paul Backhurst near Tidewater Boating Center, a new regional park

Paul Backhurst near Tidewater Boating Center, a new regional park


rowing crew in San Leandro Bay

rowing crew in San Leandro Bay

Starting off from Fruitvale BART, we biked along Fruitvale Ave until we reached the Fruitvale Bridge to Alameda. Here is one of the biggest gaps to the trail in Oakland, as the path south immediately takes you behind the large Gallagher/Hanson industrial site. With good signage though, we soon found our way on the road west to the San Leandro Bay and the Tidewater Boating Park, a new regional park a little over a year old. With bathrooms and a great view of the nearby houses on the island of Alameda,  a rowing crew was training out on the Bay. From here it’s a pleasant glide into Martin Luther King Regional Park, where I’m a regular birding, especially to spot the elusive and endangered clapper rail. We didn’t see any rails but instead lots of willets and a couple of pelicans making a perch on their own little island. As I passed by I gave thanks to all the hearty souls who protected this land from development, especially John Sutter, now president of the East Bay Regional Parks board.


black oyster catcher at MLK Regional Shoreline Park



hot shot cyclist explores in style

MLK Regional Park is one of my favorite local places to bird. I once even saw a golden eagle drop from the sky and try to pick up a small rabbit. Just as I was feeling disappointed that we had missed seeing the clapper rail, usually near the long pier jutting in the Bay, I spotted a black oyster catcher with its distinctive orange beak. As we arrived at the busy street Doolittle, there was no sign to let us know which way to go. Luckily, we had brought a map and we followed the bike lane east on noisy Doolittle before passing the airport entrance and reaching the construction site for the Airport Connector. The bike trail here is supposedly closed for construction, but there is a closed shoulder with a concrete wall so we took that to hook up with the trail skirting the Metropolitan Golf Links. There is a current detour from Doolittle to Harbor Bay Parkway and along the Ron Cowan Parkway but our shortcut got us back along the bay much faster. The expansive views here with airport arrivals and departures made for a good lunch spot, along with lots of ground squirrels and poppies in bloom. We contemplated what will happen with the sea rise due to global warming. Will the authorities try and build up the land mass that the airport sits on?

detour around Oakland airport construction

detour around Oakland airport construction

Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline provided some of the other most scenic area before we were back on the city streets of San Leandro, passing the marina and the park which is mostly closed off due to a large construction project. The area south of the marina is also good for shoreline birding and we saw lots of avocets in the tidal pools before heading back to take San Leandro BART. We had explored maybe 15 miles out of the proposed 500 miles. A worthy and humble beginning.

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About Karen Hester

Karen Hester is a community activist and events coordinator who lives in North Oakland in Temescal Creek Cohousing. Her event productions website is hesternet.net. She lives and breathes the fight to stop more billboards in Oakland and started ScenicEastBay.org

View all posts by Karen Hester

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