East Bay Regional Park District,
Contra Costa County
1.5 mile loop through grassland above a marsh, unfortunately across the highway from a refinery.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1.5 mile loop hike is incredibly easy, with only about 130 feet in elevation change.
Dirt fire road.
1 hour or less.
Winter for best bird watching.
From CA 4 in Contra Costa County, exit Interstate 680 north (exit 12c). Drive north about 2 miles, then exit Marina Vista/Waterfront Road (exit 56). At the end of the exit ramp, turn right onto Waterfront Road. Drive about 1/4 mile, then turn right onto Waterbird Way. After about 1000 feet, turn right into the preserve.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Longitude 122° 5'52.54"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants in Martinez. No camping.
No parking or entrance fees. Small gravel parking lot. There's no drinking water, but there is a restroom, and maps are available at an information signboard. One handicapped parking spot, and trail access is unobstructed to wheelchairs, although the trail is poorly suited to strollers and wheelchairs.
The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to dusk (unless otherwise posted). The single trail is multi-use. Dogs are not permitted.
The Official Story:
EBRPD's Waterbird page
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from EBRPD (download pdf)
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Waterbird Preserve is a tiny preserve squeezed between Interstate 680
and industrial outskirts of Martinez. The dominating feature at Waterbird
is the refinery right smack across the highway to the west. The proximity
may seem strange, but Waterbird exists because the refinery spilled oil
into Carquinez Strait in 1988, and was ordered to "restore, rehabilitate,
and acquire the equivalent of the resources damaged in the spill."
Thus hikers have a trail traversing a low grassy ridge overlooking a pretty
marsh, where a variety of birds may be seen, from common ducks to hawks and shorebirds.