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Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline

Despite being surrounded by industry and in close proximity to Oakland International Airport, this 741-acre waterfront park along San Leandro Bay is green and open. Of the several entry points, the main one off Swan Way offers the easiest access to most of the park’s features. Visitors can enjoy miles of paved trails and picnic in a variety...
Despite being surrounded by industry and in close proximity to Oakland International Airport, this 741-acre waterfront park along San Leandro Bay is green and open. Of the several entry points, the main one off Swan Way offers the easiest access to most of the park’s features. Visitors can enjoy miles of paved trails and picnic in a variety of settings, including on a large lawn with two fiberglass whale sculptures and Roger Berry’s “Duplex Cone” sculpture, which shows the sun’s high summer path and low winter path.

A ramped observation deck looks out over Arrowhead Marsh, a 50-acre salt marsh that's a
stopover for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway and part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network; birdwatching is a highlight here. You might see American avocets, black-necked stilts, pintail and cinnamon teal ducks, and perhaps even an endangered California clapper rail.

At the park's grassy southwestern end, off Doolittle Drive, is a fishing pier (with one step), group picnic areas, the accessible Shoreline Conference Center, and a boat launch. You will have to drive here from the main part of the park because Arrowhead Marsh Trail ends at Doolittle Drive and there is no sidewalk along Doolittle.

The Tidewater Boating Center at the park’s northern end has an ADA-accessible dock that is a popular launch area for kayakers; picnic grounds; and shoreline access for fishing.

Trail/Pathway Details

Arrowhead Marsh Trail

Trailhead: Parking lot at the foot of the park’s entry road

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Hard

Obstacles: A three-inch lip at the southern end of the bridge over San Leandro Creek Trail may be problematic for some wheelchair riders.

Description

Start your trip from the observation deck, where there are good views of San Leandro Bay and interpretive panels tell of the Bay’s shrinking wetlands and efforts to restore them. If you head south (left) on Arrowhead Marsh Trail, you will travel for about a mile along Airport Channel, an arm of the Bay, past grassy expanses that attract many geese. You will also pass the Martin Luther King Memorial Grove, a cluster of trees surrounding a grassy glade and a brick wall inscribed with donors’ names. Along this stretch, traffic noise is loud and the airport dominates the view.

A more enjoyable option is to head north on Arrowhead Marsh Trail from the observation deck. In this direction you can cruise for miles along contiguous trails, including Garretson Point Trail and Damon Marsh Trail, and get close up-views of San Leandro Bay and Arrowhead Marsh. Immediately past a large deck with picnic tables, where people fish, the trail curves. If you continue straight you will be on San Leandro Creek Trail, a 1.75-mile paved loop along parallel paths on each side of the creek, crossing over the creek on Hegenberger Road. I skipped the loop because it passes behind some businesses much of the way, and instead turned left and crossed the bridge over San Leandro Creek. Soon you cross Elmhurst Creek and the trail becomes Garretson Point Trail. Picnic tables are scattered along the way. On a clear day you can see San Francisco on the horizon.

In three-quarters of a mile you reach Garretson Point, named for journalist Skip Garretson, whose articles helped gain protections for San Francisco Bay. Here you'll find a native plant nursery where plants are grown to help restore the wetlands; beyond that, Damon Marsh is on your left and Edgewater Seasonal Wetlands are on the right. I lingered here, entertained by the antics of the bathing birds.

Shortly after you cross Damon Slough, where the trail becomes the Damon Marsh Trail, is a sculpture park with paths meandering around nature-inspired artwork. Traffic on nearby Zhone Way is noisy, but fades into the background on the wooden deck at the marsh's edge, where there is abundant birdsong. For the next three-quarters of a mile the trail snakes along the marsh, which is fringed with pickleweed and saltgrass, to another bridge at East Creek Slough. I suggest turning back at the bridge, because as the trail curves toward East Creek Point it enters an industrial area, ending at the Tidewater Boating Center.

Accessibility Details

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

All of the park’s lots and staging areas have accessible spaces.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

In the main section of the park, accessible restrooms are below the viewing deck (no stall door) and off the entrance road between the King Fisher and Plover picnic areas. The restrooms at Garretson Point have grab bars only on the sides, the toilet height is 15 inches, and the women’s stall allows only a frontal transfer. The men’s has a lowered urinal and no stall door. A good accessible restroom is at Doolittle Drive between the Blue Heron and Rail picnic areas. The Tidewater staging area has accessible restrooms.
The most accessible and scenic spots are the waterside tables at Garrettson Point and at the fishing dock. Some tables scattered along the trail can be reached in a wheelchair, but may require travel on grass or firm dirt. Accessible group picnic areas are south of the viewing platform on expansive grassy areas. A few are at the Tidewater Boating Center.

Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, January 26, 2015

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View of Arrowhead Marsh from observation deck
View of Arrowhead Marsh from observation deck (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.ebparks.org/parks/martinlking
Managing Agency: East Bay Regional Parks
Address: Doolittle Dr. and Swan Way
Nearest City: Oakland
Phone: (510) 562-1373
Hours: 5 am-10 pm
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
Not allowed in marsh area, and must be on a maximum six-foot-long leash at all times.
Public Transportation: AC Transit

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Access Northern California is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization

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