Bayfront Park,
City of Menlo Park,

San Mateo County
In brief:
0.7 mile loop hike at a small park on the bay.

Distance, category, and difficulty
This 0.7 mile loop hike is very easy. Trails meander up and down the slightest of hills.

Full sun.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Dirt trails.

Hiking time
Under an hour.

Nice year round.

Getting there
From US 101 in San Mateo County, exit Marsh Road. Drive east, and where the road bends sharply right at the junction with Bayfront Expressway, continue straight into the park. You can park along the road a short distance from the trailhead, or continue to one of two parking lots.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 12210'37.75"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
There are no facilities in the immediate area, but you'll find gas, stores, restaurants, and pay phones a few miles north in Redwood City, or west in Menlo Park. No camping.

Trailhead details:
No parking or entrance fees. There are 3 designated handicapped parking spots in the first parking lot, and some of the trails are suitable for wheelchairs. Restrooms at first parking lot. No maps or drinking water.

Park is open from sunrise to one half hour before sunset. Dogs are permitted, on leash only.

The Official Story:
Menlo Park's Bayfront Park page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from the Bay Trail website (download pdf)
• Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, (order this book from has a simple map and park descriptions.

View photos from this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

I had driven past Bayfront Park many times before finally stopping for a look around. TrailheadThe little green hills of this park at the edge of the bay were enticing, but the surrounding area seemed a little dicey. Sometimes out-of-the-way places attract lurkers (or worse) on weekdays, and Bayfront Park is set off by itself in a semi-industrial area not far from East Palo Alto and the Dumbarton Bridge. I wondered if the park was safe for solitary visitors. Then I pondered why I was worrying about safety. In particular, why did Bayfront feel so different from nearby Bair Island? Both are open space shoreline properties by default, and are oddly situated amongst semi-industrial zones. I think the defining quality of both places is one of topography: Jackrabbit on trailBair Island is level and Bayfront Park has hills (hills made from garbage, but hills nonetheless). Bair Island's flat landscape lends an open, if somewhat desolate feeling,while Bayfront's knolls and trees make me wonder who could be hiding in the shadows. I certainly would not avoid Bayfront Park, but I would feel most comfortable walking with another person. If you want to go solo, consider a weekend or midday stroll on a weekday. On weekends the park gets a steady stream of traffic, and Monday through Friday many workers from nearby companies such as Sun stop by for a lunchtime run or walk.
     After wandering around a maze of dirt paths and paved trails, I decided that there are two ways to experience Bayfront Park. Stick to the paved trail that loops around the park's edges for a straightforward, flat walk, or head out onto a path and wander aimlessly through the hills.Path Grassland is dominant, but there are clusters of exotic trees such as eucalyptus and acacia, throughout the park. Just outside the park on the northeast side there is something resembling a sewage treatment plant, as well as a building with a very loud machine. The southern section seems quieter. Although I didn't expect to see any wildlife beyond shoreline birds, I observed two jackrabbits during a brief visit.
     I started from the second parking area, and chose a paved trail departing to the east. The trail rose past acacia and eucalyptus, with some fennel dotting the grassland. As the trail curved south, I noticed an ugly industrial looking building on the left. Then, just before a major junction at about 0.30 mile, I turned right onto a narrow path, seeking an escape from the loud noises emanating from a building on the left. Returning to the trailhead
     The narrow path climbed through grassland and fennel. In some places the grass was nearly 5 feet tall! After an easy ascent, the path topped out at a crest, at about 0.40 mile. There were nice views south to the rest of the park, and west to the Santa Cruz Mountains. I selected a path running west, and followed it as it fell and then rose a few feet. Paths split at about 0.48 mile -- I went left. The path dipped and reached another, more significant junction, at about 0.53 mile. Here I turned right onto another paved trail, this one marked by a fenceline on the left. The trail descended gently back to the trailhead. In spring I saw a great patch of bellardia and some pretty, unknown sunflower-like flowers in the grass.

Total distance: about 0.66 mile
Last visit: Thursday, April 25, 2002