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. It provides habitat 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. It provides habitat for nine species of federally listed threatened or endangered species, including the salt marsh harvest mouse, California clapper rail, and western snowy plover, and is home to 227 species of birds. As a safe haven for vast numbers of birds traveling the Pacific Flyway, it is a prime destination for bird watching.
Public entry points for visiting Don Edwards are at its headquarters at the refuge's north end in Fremont, and at Alviso
, which is around the southern tip of San Francisco Bay. More than 30 miles of trails lead along sloughs and past salt ponds on San Francisco Bay that are being restored to a mix of habitats. Depending on the season and the stage of salt development, the water ranges in color from green to mauve. A visitor center in Fremont and the Environmental Education Center in Alviso provide information about the refuge and how to explore it.
At the Fremont location there’s an accessible fishing pier at the end of Marshlands Road; from there you can also pick up a section of the Bay Trail that crosses the approximately 1.5-mile Dumbarton Bridge to San Mateo County. From Marshlands Road you can also follow the Quarry Trail to Coyote Hills Regional Park
via a bridge that crosses Highway 84.
The small visitor center, which overlooks LaRiviere Marsh––named for environmentalist Florence LaRiviere, who played a pivotal role in establishing the refuge––has exhibits describing endangered species and migratory birds. Through multimedia exhibits you can learn about the refuge, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, and flora and fauna found at the refuge. Behind the center is a viewing area with a few interpretive panels and a large map of the refuge.
At the visitor center and in the large lot just beyond it, and at the end of Marshlands Rd. by the fishing pier.
Outside the visitor center. An accessible portable toilet is halfway out the fishing pier, and another is by the picnic tables and overlook at the start of the lower Tidelands Trail.
At the visitor center, the trail junction for the Learning Center and Tidelands Trail, and the Learning Center. Halfway along the boardwalk over Newark Slough, an area that juts out over the marsh has a few tables, and there is one past the second bridge crossing.
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, June 29, 2014