Point Isabel Regional Shoreline,
East Bay Regional Park District,
Contra Costa County
In brief:
3.2 mile partial loop on paved trails in an area very popular with dog walkers.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3.2 mile out and back hike is as easy as it gets. Trailhead elevation is about 16 feet, and none of the trails in the area are higher than about 25 feet.

Full sun

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Paved sidewalk-like trails.

Hiking time:
1 hour.

Nice all year.

Getting there:
From Interstate 580 in Contra Costa County, exit Central Avenue (this is exit 12, the first 580 exit north of the 80 split). Drive west one block, then turn right onto Rydin Road. Drive to the parking lot at the end of the road.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3754'10.72"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging
There are no gas stations, pay phones, restaurants, and stores in the area; head to nearby Richmond or El Cerrito for services.

Trailhead details:
No entrance or parking fees. Lots of parking in 2 lots, and more street parking nearby. There are designated handicapped parking spots, and wheelchair-accessible portable toilets. Trails are unobstructed, and while not technically all-access (there are no bumpers), the main trail is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Drinking water and maps near the information signboard. Keep in mind that the shoreline and Bay Trail are part of an urban landscape. Although Point Isabel is very popular and often teaming with visitors, the Bay Trail is a bit lonely during off-hours. You may not want to walk alone here. AC Transit bus #43 services the park: visit the Transit Info website for more details.

No bicycles on the main trail at Point Isabel, but bikes are permitted on the adjacent Bay Trail. Horses are permitted, but exceptionally unlikely. Dogs are welcome, off leash at Point Isabel, and on leash on the Bay Trail. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Official Story:
EBRPD's Point Isabel page
EBRPD headquarters 510-562-PARK

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from EBRPD
Map from Bay Trail

Point Isabel and Bay Trail in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

There aren't any substantial hiking choices at Point Isabel, Parking lotbut the park is an important and scenic open space, particularly for dog owners. The 21-acre landscaped park permits dogs to run off-leash, while humans can admire the sweeping views across the bay to San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais, and Angel Island. Point Isabel, and the adjacent Bay Trail, offer flat paved trails suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. With easy parking, picnic tables, and restrooms, families with very young or old folks and a couple of dogs may want to make this a regular east bay outdoor destination. The joyful yelps of romping dogs and the pretty views are mitigated by the ugly U.S. Postal Service Bulk Mail Center, which sprawls along the southern and western section of the shoreline. Point IsabelStill, if you live nearby, Point Isabel is convenient and dog- friendly. The Point Isabel Dog Owners group does a wonderful job of keeping the shoreline stocked with bags for dog waste, and dog owners do their part, resulting in a clean and happy off-leash area.
       A stroll along Point Isabel's shoreline can be augmented with an out-and-back walk along the Bay Trail. The paved trail, popular with neighborhood cyclists, roller-bladers and walkers, stretches north toward Richmond on a levee. Dogs are welcome on the Bay Trail, but they must be kept on leash.
     Start at the west end of the parking lot, at the gate near the handicapped parking spots. The Bay Trail skirts the Mail Center, but that trail is kept is check by a fence (no fun for dogs), so instead begin on the paved (unnamed) Point Isabel trail. A rough trail heads up a landscaped mound, but continue straight to a junction at about 220 feet. Turn left.Returning along Hoffman Channel
     Welcome to Point Isabel's main drag. If you're thinking of adopting a dog, this is a great location for some window shopping. The wide paved trail runs along Hoffman Channel, where you might see ducks, egrets, and other shorebirds. Water access is unobstructed, so dogs can splash in the channel and bay. A picnic table sits at the edge of the channel, where the trail sweeps south. The grass is kept trimmed on the soft gentle hills (the EBRPD paper map shows them as mounds) to the left, and humans can sit and soak up some sun while their canine friends sniff every nearby rock, tree, and rump. At 0.42 mile, the trail ends at the western parking lot. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
     From here, you can continue (with your dog on leash) north on the Bay Trail. Walk to the east edge of the lot and turn left onto the paved Bay Trail. After a few steps an information board reveals the trail's route. Bay TrailThe Bay Trail crosses Hoffman Channel on a bridge, then runs along Hoffman Marsh. Fences on both sides keep visitors out of the marsh, and also separate from the area known as Battery Point, to the west. This parcel is owned by the State of California and is managed by the EBRPD. Interpretive boards are sprinkled along the sides of the trail, with illustrations of shorebirds, graphics demonstrating the press of civilization on the shoreline, and other topics. Trailside plants include broom and coyote brush. In spring you might see wild radish and mustard. Stay alert for bicycle traffic. Although I 580 can be plainly seen, birds try their best to drown out traffic noise with song. As you head north, there seems to be more and more man-made detritus along both sides of the levee, but you'll also notice a semblance of native vegetation such as sagebrush, monkeyflower, yellow bush lupine, and lizardtail. Fennel is the dominant plant. At 1.46 miles, a trail heads right to South 51st Street at an unmarked junction. Continue straight.View from Bay Trail
     Views west and south are unobstructed. You might notice one, fairly large island not too far off shore. This is Brooks Island, now owned by the East Bay Regional Park District, and open to the public only by advance reservation (you supply the boat). The Bay Trail passes a fenced-off elevated (what's left of it) boardwalk with a shack at the end. At about 2 miles, the trail reaches a junction near a residential neighborhood. Both forks are segments of the Bay Trail, but this is the turnaround point. (You can continue but the trail doesn't go all the way to Miller/Knox yet, according to the Bay Trail map.) Retrace your steps to the parking lot.

Total distance: 3.18 miles
Last hiked: Friday, May 25, 2001