Coyote Hills Regional Park

  • Visitor center
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Bicycling

Features

  • Visitor center
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Bicycling

Information

Website:
visit link
Address:
8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont, CA
Region:
San Francisco Bay Area
Phone:
Info: (510) 544-3220
Hours:
Park: 8 am-7 pm daily. Visitor center: Wed.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Dogs:
On leash
$2 fee per dog. Must be leashed and under control at all times.
The eastern side of 1,064-acre Coyote Hills Regional Park is a patchwork of tule marshes, creeks, and grasslands; on the western edge is San Francisco Bay. Ohlone legends describe the Bay as a giant coyote print. You can learn about these early inhabitants by taking a guided tour to a shellmound and reconstructed Ohlone village with a tule house, shade shelter, dance circle, and sweat lodge. Pick up a tour schedule and trail map at the visitor center.

Several miles of paved and dirt trails offer spectacular views of the South Bay salt ponds, East Bay hills, and Alameda Creek. Most of the hillside trails are inaccessible. Paved Alameda Creek Trail follows the banks of the creek eastward for 12 miles from the Bay to the mouth of Niles Canyon, with opportunities for hand-cycling, fishing, and picnicking. Access to this trail is at the park's north end. At the park's southern end you can connect via a bridge over Hwy. 84 to Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. You likely won’t be able to explore the numerous trails in one day, so for a varied experience I suggest returning at different times of year.

Visitor center: Flower gardens surrounding the visitor center attract hummingbirds, and off to one side is a fenced butterfly garden, open the second Saturday of each month. Inside the center are a tule boat built by park staff and volunteers using traditional native methods, exhibits that portray aspects of Ohlone life and the park’s wildlife, and a small gift shop. There are two routes to the center: From the northern parking spot, a dirt path (muddy after a rain) leads to a paved ramp up to the center. From the southern parking space, follow the service drive (slope may be greater than 1:12) to the side of the building. This entry has a wider door; the main entry door is only 27", so you may need to open both doors.
 

Trails and Pathways

Trail:
Apay Way Trail
Time to Complete:
45 minutes
Trail Length:
2-4 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Mostly gentle
Terrain:
Firm
Trail:
Bay View Trail
Trailhead Location:
Visitor center
Trail Length:
2-4 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Mostly gentle
Terrain:
Hard
Trail:
Wetlands trails: Chochenyo, D.U.S.T., Lizard Rock
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Level
Terrain:
Firm
Trailhead Location: Most of the trails can be accessed across from the visitor center. To reach the Lizard Rock Trail, follow the Bay View Trail left from the visitor center about .3 miles to the second Lizard Rock trailhead (the first trailhead quickly becomes inaccessible as it hugs the hillside). The Willows and Crandal Creek trails were not explored.
Trail Overview: To explore the extensive network of trails through the park’s fresh and saltwater marshes, it’s a good idea to pick up a map at the visitor center; trails are clearly marked. I started by following the accessible boardwalk. Some may need assistance on the steep approach, across Patterson Ranch Road from the visitor center. The 800-foot Boardwalk Trail passes through the Main Marsh, where tules and cattails grow tall and thick, turning from green to gold with the seasons. Being so close to the water, with the grasses obscuring everything except the sky, gave me the sensation of floating along with the many white pelicans and ducks I saw. A return visit during a drought year provided a very different experience.

After less than a tenth of a mile the boardwalk ends and you enter the dirt-and-gravel Chochenyo Trail. At the first junction, where the Muskrat Trail (limited access) leads right, veer left to stay on Chochenyo. At the next junction, stay right to continue .25 miles to the Ohlone Village. The village was built on a shellmound—a large pile of shells found near villages where shellfish were a staple. You can catch glimpses of it through the fence; for a closer view, join a docent-led tour.

Instead of taking the branch of the Chochenyo Trail that leads to the village, you can continue on the trail's main stem as it passes a narrower section of marsh and then dead-ends at the D.U.S.T Trail. This is a lovely spot to linger and watch waterfowl fly overhead and gracefully land in the shallow waters. I could even see ducks below the water, diving for food. Although civilization is nearby, this spot felt isolated. You can turn left at the dead end to return to the Bay View Trail via Lizard Rock Trail (I took this route on a previous trip; it wraps around the base of a hill for .4 miles and passes under a few trees that offer some of the only shade along the wetland trails), or turn right to follow a channel about .4 miles to Crandall Creek Trail. On my most recent visit, I took the latter route. Tree-swallow houses on posts made by children lined the trail. As I got closer to Crandall Creek Trail, I could see some development to the east, with hills providing a backdrop. Bicyclists sped along Alameda Creek Trail, but I saw no way to connect to it. According to my map, if I went another mile, I could connect near Ardenwood Boulevard. Instead, I retraced my route to the visitor center.

More Info: Except for the boardwalk, trail segments vary in bumpiness depending on the size of the gravel.

Accessibility Features

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, hard, level or slope no greater than 2%;

Two accessible spaces at visitor center. No designated spaces at Quarry Staging Area or the dirt lot at the park's entrance at Patterson Ranch Rd. and Paseo Padre Pkwy. (a paved 1.5-mile trail travels parallel to Patterson Ranch Rd. from this lot to the visitor center). One space at Dairy Glen group campground.


Accessible Restroom:
Partially Accessible – The most accessible restroom (vault style) is at Dairy Glen. Accessible portable toilets are at the visitor center parking lot and the Quarry Staging Area. The restrooms in the visitor center have limited access: the short stall doesn’t allow the door to close behind a wheelchair and requires a frontal transfer; the towel dispensers are high; and there’s a tight entry turn into the men’s room.

Camping:
Yes

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance; At Quarry Staging Area, Dairy Glen, and visitor center; the most accessible tables are near the butterfly garden and by the parking area.

Accessible Visitor Center:
Yes

Other Things of Interest:
Nearby, Ardenwood Historic Farm is a great destination for families with small children. A 19th-century country estate with a beautiful Victorian mansion and elaborate Victorian gardens, farm animals, and a blacksmith shop. Ardenwood is also a working farm, growing the same kinds of produce that have been grown in the region for the past hundred years. A walk around the farm is .5 miles. 

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