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Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

Driving past the countless semi trucks that barrel around Oakland’s busy port and its giant steel-limbed gantry cranes, I was convinced I would never find Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Just as I was about to give up, the salvaged mast of the USS Oakland, an anti-aircraft cruiser decommissioned in 1949, welcomed me to the park’s east entrance. This 38-acre...
Driving past the countless semi trucks that barrel around Oakland’s busy port and its giant steel-limbed gantry cranes, I was convinced I would never find Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Just as I was about to give up, the salvaged mast of the USS Oakland, an anti-aircraft cruiser decommissioned in 1949, welcomed me to the park’s east entrance.

This 38-acre landscaped green space, the site of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet supply center from World War II until 1998, lies in the midst of the vast industrial landscape of an active container seaport. The Oakland’s mast heralds the park’s many historical maritime features, including bollards for tying up ships, pier remnants, and the outlined footprint of the Navy’s four-acre warehouse. Other features include a sandy beach, an amphitheater, a large restored salt marsh, and nearly three miles of wide, level trails that weave through the park.

At the park’s center is Point Arnold, a 16-acre grassy peninsula with a wharf (44-inch railings), an accessible viewing telescope, and picnic sites.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bay Trail

Trailhead: Numerous locations throughout the park

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

There’s only one gentle grade, to the observation tower.

Terrain: Firm

Trails throughout have eroded and are rough in places. Don’t expect a smooth ride.

Description

You can explore the shoreline and inland areas of the park while learning about the site's history, its environmental resources, and the adjacent maritime activities from the interpretive panels scattered throughout. For great views as well as an overview of the park, begin your exploration at the observation tower at the park’s southern end. It’s best to follow the upper path from the parking lot to the tower because from the lower path you have to take an elevator to the tower, and it has been out of service during all of my numerous visits.

Next, backtrack to the lower trails that traverse the 10-acre peninsula, which was the site of the Western Pacific Mole, an early 20th-century railroad terminal that provided both a shipping connection for local and international freight and a ferry station to take railroad passengers to and from San Francisco. If you’re lucky you might see container ships being loaded and unloaded, and on a clear day, see both the Bay Bridge and Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.

Work your way back to the parking lot, where you can pick up the .75-mile shoreline promenade that links to the park’s center and Point Arnold at the northern end. Look for resident birds such as Forster's terns, double-crested cormorants, and brown pelicans. In the evening, you may be dazzled by a broad sunset.

Past the picnic area is Point Arnold and the wharf where people fish; a California fishing license is required here. You can extend your trip another half-mile to Port View Park on a section of Bay Trail that parallels Seventh Street and the railroad tracks.

Accessibility Details

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

Several lots, all reachable from either Middle Harbor Rd. or Seventh St., have accessible spaces, including the one at the southernmost end of the park road.Unknown column 'status' in 'where clause'