NOTE: Bair Island is currently closed for restoration (1/1/11)
3 mile loop on the bay, very close to U.S. 101.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
Trails are perfectly flat and the 3 mile loop hike is easy.
1 1/2 hours or less.
Nice year round.
From US 101 in San Mateo County, exit Whipple Road. Drive east on Whipple, and where the road curves sharply right (just past the 101 northbound entrance/exit ramps), carefully pull off into the small dirt lot on the left.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phone, restaurants, and stores back on Whipple. No camping.
No parking or entrance fees. Room for perhaps 15 vehicles in an unimproved and rutted dirt lot. No facilities. There's a map posted on the information signboard. There are no designated handicapped parking spots, and trails access is obstructed for wheelchairs. There is no direct public transportation to the park.
Open sunrise to sunset. Dogs are permitted, but they must be leashed, and are prohibited to stray from the trails into the vegetation or water. Bicycles and equestrians are allowed, but this refuge is primarily used by joggers and walkers.
The Official Story:
Refuge headquarters 510-792-0222.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge
Map Choices/More Information:
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there (or better yet, the AAA Palo Alto map)
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge brochure (pdf)
Bair Island in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike
are other more scenic, peaceful, and
user-friendly shoreline parks and preserves on San Francisco Bay, but
Bair Island, like the underdog in a football game, is a place you'll find
yourself rooting for. Purchased by Peninsula Open Space Trust and now
under the stewardship of the Don Edward San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge,
Bair Island is being restored to tidal marsh, and will support wildlife
including migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and at least two endangered
species, the clapper rail, and salt marsh harvest mouse. Currently visitors
walking the three-mile perimeter loop may see birds and animals such as
cottontail rabbits, egrets, terns, and stilts. The land has historically
been used to graze cattle and for salt harvesting. Redwood City residents
rejected development plans in 1982, and after a long struggle, P.O.S.T.
acquired Bair Island in 1999. As the property is restored, vegetation
and animal life will become more varied and healthy, so it'll be interesting
to watch the transformation of the 3,200 acre preserve. Restoration
should bring facilities typically found at a shoreline preserve, such
as restrooms and wildlife viewing platforms, but for now Bair Island remains
in an undeveloped state.