Palo Alto Baylands Preserve

  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Hiking
  • Boating
  • Bicycling

Features

  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Hiking
  • Boating
  • Bicycling

Information

Website:
visit link
Address:
2500 Embarcadero Rd.
Region:
San Francisco Bay Area
Phone:
Info: 650-617-3156, 650-329-2506 (interpretive center)
Hours:
Trails: Daily, 8 am-sunset. Interpretive center: Wed.-Thurs., 1-4 pm; Sun., noon-4 pm.
Dogs:
On leash
Leashed dogs are allowed, unless signs posted in special bird nesting areas indicate otherwise.
The Baylands Nature Preserve, said to be the largest salt marsh preserve on the Bay, encompasses nearly 2,000 acres protected for wildlife, including the endangered clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. The preserve contains a duck pond (formerly a saltwater swimming pool); tidal and freshwater marshes; a sailing station for windsurfers and hand-carried, non-motorized boats; and almost 15 miles of trails, all of which have some wheelchair access. Although quite a few of the trails are along roads or in built-up areas, many are close to attractive sloughs where a wide variety of birds can be seen even without binoculars, and some are out in the marshlands, where a flock of sandpipers or a lonely blue heron may be your only company.

Jackrabbits are frequently seen in the restored wildlands above the high-water line, where gray foxes and burrowing owls are said to breed. But within the preserve you'll also find a sewage treatment plant, an airport, and a former landfill for the city of San Francisco, which is now a grassy garbage mountain named the Bixby Art Hill, home to several very understated pieces of public art. Highway 101 is nearby, as is Palo Alto's golf course.

Visitor center: A quarter-mile down the road from the duck pond is the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center. Inside are displays about the wildlife you might see at the preserve and an ecology laboratory where visitors can prepare their own slides and examine them under microscopes. The microscopes are on a 25-inch-high shelf, but a video microscope that projects slides onto a monitor permits easier viewing. The center also offers videos, nature walks, and a variety of natural history programs for children and adults. On the wooden deck surrounding the nature center, use the low-mounted telescope to zoom in on shorebirds and waterfowl. A long boardwalk extending from the center across Harriet Mundy Marsh is closed for major renovations.

Trails and Pathways

Trail:
Adobe Creek Trail (Bixby Art Hill to Shoreline Lake Park)
Trailhead Location:
Parking area closest to Bixby Art Hill
Trail Length:
Over 4 total miles
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail:
Adobe Creek Trail along Mayfield Slough
Trailhead Location:
Parking area closest to the Bixby Art Hill: Go .3 miles to Mayfield Slough and turn right.
Trail Length:
2-4 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail:
San Francisquito Creek Trail
Trailhead Location:
The sailing station or the nature center
Trail Length:
2-4 total miles
Typical Width:
30 in. to 4 ft.
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail:
Duck Pond Loop
Trailhead Location:
Duck pond
Trail Length:
Less than .5 mile
Typical Width:
30 in. to 4 ft.
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail:
Marsh Front Trail
Trailhead Location:
Any parking area in the preserve
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
30 in. to 4 ft.
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail:
Bixby Art Hill Trails
Trailhead Location:
Access points are along the first half-mile of the Adobe Creek Trail and its Mayfield Slough route.
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
30 in. to 4 ft.
Typical Grade:
Steep
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail Overview: This maze of trails, artistically surfaced with oyster shells, meanders over the garbage mountain; all are considerably steeper than 1:12 but may be manageable in a good power chair. In addition to the sense of accomplishment if you make it to the top, you can get a closer look at the art pieces installed by landscape architects.

Accessibility Features

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%; The most popular lot is at the Adobe Creek trailhead, where the one designated space is very likely to be occupied. Each of the several small lots along Embarcadero Rd. has a van-accessible space, and at the sailing station, a gravel lot has several van-accessible spaces.

Accessible Restroom:
Yes – Restrooms with running water are at the nature center (open only when the center is) and Bixby Art Park parking area; porta-potties are at the duck pond and sailing station.

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance; Several tables are by the duck pond; all are near the parking lot on firm grass or dirt, and two have shortened benches to provide integrated seating for at least two wheelchairs each.

Accessible Visitor Center:
Yes

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