The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first and largest urban national wildlife refuge in the United States, is just one piece of the larger San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Encompassing 30,000 acres, the Don Edwards refuge consists primarily of tidal marsh, salt ponds, mud flats, and seasonal wetlands. Public entry points for...
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first and largest urban national wildlife refuge in the United States, is just one piece of the larger San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Encompassing 30,000 acres, the Don Edwards refuge consists primarily of tidal marsh, salt ponds, mud flats, and seasonal wetlands. Public entry points for visiting Don Edwards are at its headquarters
(at the refuge's north end in Fremont) and at this site, which is around the southern tip of San Francisco Bay. The refuge encompasses thousands of acres of restored wetlands, and it is a very fine place to see waterfowl. It's also scenic, with interesting shrubbery along the marshes and wide expanses of blue water, as well as ponds in various shades of yellow and red because of the salt-tolerant microorganisms that flourish where the tide is excluded.
The trails in the Alviso section of the refuge are almost entirely wheelchair accessible, since most run atop level levees that double as maintenance roads. Not many people come here, with the exception of school groups and birdwatchers; at midday on a clear Sunday in August we met only three or four other hikers in as many hours. Thankfully, a cool breeze off the Bay kept the hiking comfortable—there is no shade on these trails.
Visitor center: The Environmental Education Center has displays on the South Bay’s ecology and history, a small bookstore, and replicas of the reed boats and shelters used by the native people. It is used for school programs and other events on weekdays and is open to the public on weekends. The entry door is rather heavy.
At the Environmental Education Center. When the lot is closed, nose-in parking is permitted outside the gate on a wide, hard gravel strip along the road, but it has no designated accessible spaces.
Inside the Environmental Education Center; restroom doors are heavy. A porta-potty is in the parking lot, near the accessible space.
Partially accessible picnic tables are across the parking lot from the Environmental Education Center in a covered open-air pavilion; a sign warns that the pavilion is intended for use by scheduled groups and only available for the public when not in use. There isn't enough space at the end of the tables for most wheelchairs to pull under them. Another table is just off the New Chicago Marsh Trail, but is down a steep path on a soft surface and is not accessible without a lot of help.
Reviewed by Ann Sieck, September 24, 2014