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Shoreline at Mountain View

Shoreline Lake Park was originally a landfill accepting garbage from San Francisco, but the city of Mountain View turned it into a 750-acre recreation area with an 18-hole golf course and driving range, a 50-acre artificial lake filled with water pumped from the Bay, and nearly eight miles of trails, many of them along sloughs and marshes. You...
Shoreline Lake Park was originally a landfill accepting garbage from San Francisco, but the city of Mountain View turned it into a 750-acre recreation area with an 18-hole golf course and driving range, a 50-acre artificial lake filled with water pumped from the Bay, and nearly eight miles of trails, many of them along sloughs and marshes. You can hike, golf, boat on the saltwater lake, fly a kite, let your dog run free at the off-leash dog park, eat at the lakeside café, or loll around on lawns. Benches are plentiful throughout. At the restored, accessible Rengstorff House (ca. 1876) you can take a free docent-led tour of one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture remaining on the West Coast. The huge white tent of Shoreline Amphitheatre (a music venue), just outside the park, is visible from many parts of the park. Moffett Airfield is not far away, so lots of planes fly by.

A string of parks and preserves allows hikers to explore the Bay to the north and south. The undeveloped areas east and north of the lake are crisscrossed by a couple of miles of pleasant, unnamed paved and hard gravel paths, including a more than 2-mile paved section of the San Francisco Bay Trail. This trail connects to the Adobe Creek Loop Trail in the Palo Alto Baylands.  On the trails you may meet cyclists pedaling the colorful bikes Google furnishes to its employees. Shoreline and Baylands parks harbor lots of wildlife, and you may see common birds such as ducks, avocets, swallows, sandpipers, and white pelicans.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bay Trail

Trailhead: Kite-flying parking lot at N. Shoreline Blvd.

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 30 in. to 4 ft.

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

Terrain: Firm

The route has a combination of paved sections and firm and stable surfaces.

Obstacles: Where the pavement ends at the fenced levee, there is a hill with uneven surfaces and clumps of small rocks that might be challenging in a manual wheelchair, whether traveling uphill or down.

Description

Three locations with parking offer good starting points for short strolls around the lake or longer outings along the salt ponds and marshes: Terminal Boulevard on the northern boundary, Shoreline Boathouse in the middle of the park, and the longer route I chose, from the kite-flying lot in the park’s southern section.

Near the entrance to the lot, a paved trail connects to a service road that leads southeast for about .25 miles past a gravel-surfaced overflow lot for the amphitheater, passing a dog park on the right. At the first fork, stay right to wind around the Crittenden Pump Station, where the trail dips and then climbs to a fork. Turn left toward the Bay and follow along the western side of Stevens Creek Tidal Marsh, where egrets, herons, sandpipers, and other shorebirds feed. After a few hundred feet you come to a bridge to the paved Stevens Creek Trail. Here a right turn will take you south for more than three miles along the creek and through marshlands to Yuba Drive near El Camino Real and Highway 85. If you turn left toward the Bay, you travel for .5 miles to the paved trail’s end at a fenced levee and a large salt pond. From here, go left on the wide dirt trail (impassable in wet weather) that leads west along the shoreline to an intersection where you rejoin the paved trail. A salt pond is on your right, while to the left are the undulating human-built hills of a large former landfill, now habitat for burrowing owls and other wildlife.

The Shoreline Golf Links come into view as you near the restored Mountain View Tidal Marsh. Veer left at the marsh to a viewing platform (steep approach), where you can look for egrets and herons. You can then continue around the marsh, traveling north toward the lake, or return to the kite-flying lot via a trail alongside the park’s main entrance road. I chose to continue, crossing Permanente Creek near its inlet into the marsh, and soon arrived in the parking lot that serves the boathouse and lakeside café. The man-made lake attracts small-boat sailors and windsurfers (rentals and classes available), and plenty of birds. Both the dock and the beach launching area are accessible. Lawns shaded by pine and willow slope down to the shore.

A paved trail leads north from the boathouse. Where it splits, stay left to travel along the lakeshore. Past the sailing scow play structure, the trail surface changes to decomposed granite. The trail ends on the lake’s northeastern side. If you go right instead of left at the split, you travel toward the Bay alongside Mountain View Tidal Marsh. This trail veers left at the Bay, leading more than .5 miles along the shore of another large salt pond to the Coast Casey Forebay, a flood control basin, and Charleston Slough. The accessible viewing platform extending over the slough provides excellent birding opportunities. From the platform you can extend your trip several miles on the hard-packed dirt-and-gravel Adobe Creek Trail winding through Palo Alto Baylands.

Continuing past the viewing platform, you arrive at the Terminal Boulevard entrance to the park. I returned to the boathouse lot via the paved service road that leads to the right. It cuts through the middle of the golf course and crosses Permanente Creek after .8 miles. On the other side of the bridge I turned left onto the Permanente Creek Trail, which winds for .25 miles back to the boathouse, running through the parking lots for Michael’s Restaurant and the Rengstorff House and gardens. To return to the kite-flying lot, stay on the service road after Permanente Creek, past Vista Slope, a hilly open space with dirt-and-gravel trails, and Shoreline Amphitheatre, both on your right.

Accessibility Details

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

Accessible spots are in the lot on N. Shoreline Blvd. that serves the kite-flying area, the boathouse lot, at Michael’s Restaurant, the golf links lot, Rengstorff House, and at the Terminal Blvd. entrance.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At the boathouse, near the Terminal Blvd. entrance, and at Michael’s café. Accessible portable toilets are in the kite-flying lot and at the dog park.

Reviewed by Ashley Olson, December 10, 2014

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Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.mountainview.gov/depts/cs/shoreline/default.asp
Managing Agency: City of Mountain View
Address: 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Nearest City: Mountain View
Phone: (650) 903-6392
Hours: Rengstorff House tour: Tues.-Wed., 11 am-5 pm; Sun., 1-4 pm.
Aquatic Center: Daily, 10 am-5:30 pm
Lakeside Café: Seasonal
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
Only allowed at the dog park
Public Transportation: Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
Useful Links: Shoreline Park trail map, Stevens Creek Trail

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