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Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline Park

Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline Park is a narrow strip of parkland (no amenities) in east San Rafael that stretches for three miles along the bayshore, past residences and a marsh. A section of the Bay Trail travels the edge of the park, offering plentiful bird-watching and unobstructed views of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and West and East...
Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline Park is a narrow strip of parkland (no amenities) in east San Rafael that stretches for three miles along the bayshore, past residences and a marsh. A section of the Bay Trail travels the edge of the park, offering plentiful bird-watching and unobstructed views of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and West and East Marin Islands.

Nearby Pickleweed Park is a 25-acre expanse of marsh with a picnic area and barbecues, a playground (some structures are accessible), and a grassy field. A loop trail of less than .5 miles encircles the ball field and follows the southern shore of San Rafael Creek near its outlet into San Rafael Bay. A community center and library are at the park's southwest corner.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bay Trail

Trailhead: Spinnaker Point Drive

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard

Description

At Shoreline Park, the trail runs along the Bay’s edge for about three-quarters of a mile before it turns inland to a junction offering three options. Along this stretch are two wooden platforms with benches where you can watch shorebirds and take in views across the Bay. Residents from the nearby housing appear to take lunch breaks here. At one point, with a large marsh on one side and the Bay on the other, I had the sensation of being in the water. We saw many ducks during our early-January visit, and tall bushes were ablaze with brilliant red berries.

At the junction, the first option is a short concrete ramp that leads down to a rocky little inlet at water’s edge; I found the sound of small waves lapping against rocks very soothing. The second option is a hard-packed dirt and paved levee trail that travels south along the Bay for one mile toward Point San Quentin; however, a steep slope with a 3- to 4-inch transition onto the trail made it impassable for me from this end. A more accessible approach to this section of trail is to park farther south on Pelican Way and pick up the trail there. You can follow the trail south for less than .25 miles or head north for .75 miles back to the junction. Fewer people travel this section. The third option, the one we chose, is a paved trail that curves west for a quarter-mile around a housing development and past a marsh, ending at Bay Point Village Drive. Mount Tamalpais looms large in the background. Mature landscaping helps obscure the housing.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

The lot that serves the Albert J. Boro Community Center and Pickleweed Park has the best accessible parking. There is street parking on Spinnaker Point Dr., but the sidewalk has inadequate space to deploy a side-loading lift. To reach the trail from the lot, follow the sidewalk along Spinnaker Point Dr. a few hundred feet to the trailhead. For access to the southern end of the Bay Trail, park along Pelican Way.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Between the play area and picnic area, and in the Albert J. Boro Community Center (open weekdays, 8:30 am-5 pm)
At Pickleweed Park

Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, December 4, 2013

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View of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge from Pickleweed Park
View of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge from Pickleweed Park (Paul Church)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.cityofsanrafael.org
Managing Agency: City of San Rafael
Nearest City: San Rafael
Phone: (415) 485-3333
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: Marin Transit

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