Hayward Regional Shoreline,
East Bay Regional Park District,
Alameda County
In brief:
3.6 mile partial loop through marshes and shoreline outside of Hayward. Good bird watching.

Distance, category, and difficulty
This 3.6 mile partial loop hike is very easy. Trails are perfectly flat.

Full sun throughout.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Wide dirt trails.

Hiking time
2 hours.

Best birdwatching in winter, but nice year round.

Getting there
• From eastbound CA 92 in Alameda County, exit Clawiter (exit 24, the first exit coming off the San Mateo Bridge). At the foot of the exit ramp, turn left onto Clawiter, cross over the freeway, then make a left onto Breakwater. Follow Breakwater for about 1 mile, as it winds left then right, and finally runs along the highway. Park before the end of the road, near the Interpretive Center.
• From westbound CA 92, exit Clawiter (exit 24). At the foot of the exit ramp, go straight onto Breakwater. Follow Breakwater for about 1 mile, as it winds left then right, and finally runs along the highway. Park before the end of the road, near the Interpretive Center.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead
Latitude 3737'24.73"N
122 8'9.24"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging
Gas and pay phone back at Clawiter and Breakwater, but there are no restaurants or stores in the vicinity. No camping.

Trailhead details
Side of the street parking on dead-end Breakwater. No parking or entrance fees. There are two other trailheads to the north on Grant and West Winton. Maps available at the Interpretive Center (open weekends only), and theoretically at the information signboard at the start of the trail, but the box was empty and looked pretty dusty on my visit. There's a wheelchair-accessible portable toilet just off the road, but there is no drinking water. No designated handicapped parking, but trails may be suitable for wheelchairs (weather permitting; they aren't paved). There is no direct public transportation to the shoreline, but several AC Transit buses stop at West Winton, and from there you can walk to the shoreline.

Trails are open to hikers and cyclists. No dogs. Shoreline is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Official Story:
EBRPD's Hayward Regional Shoreline page
Park office 510-783-1066

Map Choices/More Information:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there
Map from EBRPD
Map from Bay Trail
• David Weintraub's East Bay Trails has a good map and descriptions of this hike (order this book from Amazon.com).
• 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Ann Marie Brown (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and featured hike.
• Malcolm Margolin's East Bay Out has descriptions of the shoreline (order this book from Amazon.com).

Hayward Regional Shoreline in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

The young marsh at Hayward Regional Shoreline provides bountiful opportunities for nature study. Roadside at the end of BreakwaterEven a birdwatching neophyte (like me) may be able to identify a few birds. Bring binoculars and some field guides, and set off into the marsh. With only shrubby low-to-the-ground vegetation, birds are easy to spot.
     Shoreline levees along this stretch of bay were originally built for salt harvesting. Restoration began in 1980, when staff breached dykes and returned saltwater's tidal flow to Cogswell Marsh. Additional property is transitioning to fresh and brackish water marshes, with controlled flows of treated wastewater. This transformation is complete with a thriving community of marsh plants and tons of birds. Migrating and resident birds feast on the worms, cockles, and other inhabitants of the bay's mudflats.Trail along the bay
     In summer, the marsh retains a cool serenity. Great green swaths of pickleweed compliment the streams of azure marsh water, and breezes off the bay whisk your sweat away. If it's truly hot though, beware of the sun; there is no shade along the shoreline, so be sure to wear a floppy hat.
     The over 1,600 acres of shoreline support a variety of outdoor recreation. Fishing is popular in the northern reaches, although it's not permitted in the nature area around the marsh. Locals stop by for a quick run, and families enjoy easy cycling on the level dirt trails. Birdwatching is probably the chief draw here. Although summer smog may obscure visibility, there are nice views east and west.A look west along the shoreline
     Start at the gated fire road near the Interpretive Center. Although traffic on CA 92 whizzes past directly to the south, it's easy to let the noise leave your consciousness as you head into the marsh. Stoic egrets and shy herons may be spotted in the channel off to the left. Pickleweed carpets the sides of the wide flat trail all year long, while mustard adds a seasonal burst of yellow in spring. Initially the trail heads west, but as it nears the bay, it takes a wandering course to the north, following the contour of the shoreline. Interpretive signs along the way are sure to educate curious hikers. On my June hike, feisty white birds (swifts maybe?) zipped back and forth overhead, making frequent journeys to the bay and then back to the marsh. How they fly with their beaks full, squawking all the while, is a mystery to me. You might notice lush clumps of New Zealand spinach on the side of the trail. At 1.16 miles, the trail splits at a signed junction. Bear right (although either way is an option on this loop section).A bridge leaves Cogswell Marsh, headed toward the Flood Control Channel
     As I quietly crept along the marsh, I was able to get a good look at a few birds I'd never seen before. Black necked stilts and American avocets permitted a few moments of observation, but they were happy to be left alone as I continued north through the marsh. From a bench on the side of the trail you can pause to soak up the sights and sounds of the marsh, or take a long look east to Mount Diablo, Mission Peak, and the hills of Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer. At 1.76 miles, you'll reach an unsigned junction. An unusual yellow flowered tree tobacco shrub sits on the side of the bridge to the right. The causeway heads to a trail around landfill, and eventually ends up on the shoreline near Grant Avenue and the confluence of San Lorenzo Creek and the bay. (You can extend this hike by turning right, continuing north, than retracing your steps to here.) Turn left.Cogswell Marsh
     As the trail veers west you might catch a glimpse of some other more sedimentary marsh residents, squirrels, who dart in and out of the nooks and crannies of the shoreline riprap. I watched one take a sand bath on the trail, fully expecting to see a hawk swoop down for a meal, but the raptors were absent this day. There's one more bridge crossing, and then the trail loops back to a previously encountered junction at 2.41 miles. Continue straight and retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Total distance: 3.57 miles
Last hiked: Wednesday, June 20, 2001