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Coyote Point Recreation Area

Coyote Point was once an island separated from the mainland by a large salt marsh that was later filled in. Much of the 670-acre park is flat, except for a few knolls among eucalyptus trees that often reveal scenic overlooks of the marina, the remaining marsh, and the Bay. With an outstanding nature museum, several playgrounds, plentiful picnic...
Coyote Point was once an island separated from the mainland by a large salt marsh that was later filled in. Much of the 670-acre park is flat, except for a few knolls among eucalyptus trees that often reveal scenic overlooks of the marina, the remaining marsh, and the Bay. With an outstanding nature museum, several playgrounds, plentiful picnic areas, a beach, large lawns, and an accessible playground at the Eucalyptus Recreation Area, the park makes a great day-long outing for families. Adults can also enjoy a shooting range, marina, yacht club (not wheelchair accessible), and fishing jetty.

Except for the inaccessible Bluff Trail, which briefly sweeps around one of the park's highest points, a network of paved accessible trails, bike paths, and roads allows you to roam fairly easily. The Bay Trail runs from Fisherman’s Park, just north of Coyote Point, to the park’s marina, then south another 2.5 miles to the San Mateo Bridge. For fabulous Bay views, be sure to visit the Merchant Marine Memorial and Marina overlooks, reachable from the paved trail behind the museum.

Museum: Situated on the east side of a tree-shaded knoll in the eastern part of the park, the CuriOdyssey Museum is a top-notch interactive science and education center that allows visitors to observe a variety of native California animals up close. Indoor exhibits include interactive displays, computer activities, videos, and films about Bay Area ecosystems. The open floor plan makes it easy to maneuver. In the outdoor animal habitats you can learn about and get close to various reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and, in the walk-through aviary, nearly two dozen native birds. The butterfly and hummingbird gardens are scenic and peaceful spots in which to rest and watch the wildlife.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bay Trail

Trailhead: At numerous parking lots along Coyote Point Park Dr.

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Some slight hills

Terrain: Hard

Description

The Bay Trail skirts the eastern perimeter of the park, parallel to Coyote Point Drive for much of the way. Starting near the Peninsula Humane Society shelter on Airport Boulevard, you quickly leave the Bay views behind, turning inland to travel past many of the park's amenities, including a rifle range, several playgrounds, and the Captain’s House Conference Center. Across Coyote Point Drive is the Poplar Creek Golf Course; on a mid-January visit I was joyfully surprised to see orange and yellow wildflowers blanketing a knoll at the edge of the course.

Approximately a half-mile in, a grove of eucalyptus trees atop a nearby hill wafts a sweet aroma into the air and, depending on the time of day, provides a little shade. The Bay Trail briefly touches Coyote Point Marina, then travels south out of the park for 2.5 miles to the San Mateo Bridge. No matter where you are on the trail, you can hear planes circling to land at nearby San Francisco International Airport and shots ringing from the shooting range, but the sounds of songbirds and other small animals provide a calming balance to the manmade racket.

Marina Trail

Trailhead: Parking lot by the breakwater

Length: Less than .5 mile

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard

Obstacles: Frequent strong winds may be challenging in a manual wheelchair.

Description

This short loop hike on a breakwater by the marina takes you out onto San Francisco Bay and is very wheelchair-friendly. There are benches and fishing spots along the way, but fishing from a wheelchair requires casting over the riprap. This trail has the park's best views of San Francisco and other cities in the distance. You can also catch sight of passing boats, windsurfers, and waterfowl.

Shoreline Trail

Trailhead: South of the marina

Length: Less than .5 mile

Typical Width: 30 in. to 4 ft.

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Moderately Firm

The gravel may be a nuisance for manual wheelchairs

Description

The shoreline trail is a good spot for birdwatching and for identifying planes on their approach to San Francisco International Airport. This trail follows one side of the harbor, then curves around to the Bay. A variety of birds can be seen in the surrounding wetlands, so bring binoculars.

Accessibility Details

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

Accessible parking is ample throughout, with spaces at the playground, trailheads, marina, promenade, and museum. Parking is free with disabled plates or placard, and for seniors (65+) and VA hospital-sponsored patients; otherwise it is $6. Museum: $8 for adults. Museum member discounts apply to children ages 2-12, students, and seniors. Free for teachers and children under 2.

Accessible Restroom: Limited Accessibility

Most of the park's restrooms, including those at the museum, allow only front-approach transfers, are too shallow to close the stall door, and have no grab bars on the back wall. I found one at the drop-in picnic area below the museum that had enough clearance to close the stall door and pull alongside the toilet.
Numerous group picnic areas have accessible tables. The most accessible drop-in picnic sites are downhill from the CuriOdyssey Museum.

Reviewed by Ashley Olson, March 20, 2013

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Bluff Trail
Bluff Trail (Ashley Olson)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: parks.smcgov.org/
Managing Agency: San Mateo Department of Parks
Address: 1961 Coyote Point Dr., San Mateo, CA 94401
Nearest City: San Mateo
Phone: (650) 573-2592
Hours: Park: Daily, 8 am to sunset. Museum: Tues.-Sat., 10 am-5 pm; Sun., noon-5 pm; closed Mon. Holiday hours: 10 am-5 pm (MLK Day, Presidents Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and the day after Thanksgiving).
Fees: Entrance, Museum
Dogs: Not allowed
Public Transportation: SamTrans
Useful Links: CuriOdyssey Museum

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