Shoreline at Mountain View,
City of Mountain View,
Santa Clara County

In brief:
4.9 mile loop on trails fronting San Francisco Bay.

Distance, category, and difficulty
This 4.9 mile out and back hike is easy. Shoreline trails are almost completely flat.

Full sun.

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails and paved sidewalks.

Hiking time:
2 hours.

Nice any time; good birdwatching in winter.

Getting there:
From US 101 in Santa Clara County, exit Shoreline Boulevard (exit #399). Drive northeast about 1 mile on Shoreline Boulevard, through the gates into Shoreline at Mountain View. Once past the entrance gate, drive about 1 mile to the parking lot at the end of the road (near the lake).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3725'57.30"N
122 5'15.06"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
There's a small casual restaurant at the lake, and another more sit-down establishment near the golf course. Gas back near 101. No camping in the park.

Trailhead details:
No parking or entrance fees. Lots of parking in several lots. Designated handicapped parking is available, and trails are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms, drinking fountains, and pay phone in the building near the lake; there are other phones, fountains, restrooms and portable toilets at a few other locations in the park. Santa Clara VTA services Shoreline's western edge.

No horses or dogs. Bicycles are restricted from some trails. Park is open from 6 a.m. to 1/2 hour after sunset.

The Official Story
Mountain View's Shoreline page
Shoreline info 650-903-6392
Palo Alto Baylands page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there
Map from Mountain View's website (paper maps are available at the park upstairs at Rengstorff House)
Bay Trail's website has a simple map and descriptions of the Bay Trail segment through Shoreline

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

Shoreline at Mountain ViewTrailhead  (that is the somewhat snobbish but official name) is more than a park, it's a recreation extravaganza, with a golf course, restaurants, a boating lake, kite flying field, and miles of trails. All the facilities are well used, but most people seem to show up at Shoreline for a walk or run. You'll see seniors and young moms, high school runners, and tech folks on their lunch hours, taking advantage of the flat paved and dirt paths around the lake and bay.
     A string of parks and preserves allows hikers to explore the bay to the north and south, with Shoreline as a logical staging area. The Bay Trail ties together Mountain View's Shoreline with Palo Alto's Baylands, and when new segments are completed the trail will reach Sunnyvale's Baylands. Hikers can stick to the Bay Trail, which runs rather uncomfortably close to the highway at times, or can choose to walk along the levee trails which stretch out to meet the bay. Paved path around the lake
     Near Shoreline trails buzz with human activity and traffic noise, but out on the levees and sloughs of Baylands only airplanes from nearby Palo Alto Airport compete with the sound of the wind and birdsong. Shoreline and Baylands harbor lots of wildlife, and you might see common birds such as ducks, avocets, swallows, sandpipers, and white pelicans, along with more unusual creatures like jackrabbits and burrowing owls.
     The breezy trails along the bay are cool even when the rest of the bay area is sweltering. The same windy conditions will chill you to the bone in winter, so dress accordingly.Palo Alto's Baylands
     Start at the parking lot near Shoreline Lake. Begin walking on a paved trail to the right of the boathouse. Unsigned paths scatter in many directions, but just aim for the trail closest to the lake's (artificial) shore. Attractively manicured lawns and landscaped grounds dotted with shade trees are soothingly lush even in summer. Some visitors are content to sit near the lake on a bench or under a tree with a book. If you decide to loll about, check where you sit, because the park's collection of tame Canada geese poop in the grass (and everywhere else). At 0.28 mile, a gravel trail continues around the lake, while the paved path veers right. Stay on the pavement and bear right.View from the trail
     After a short rise, the trail drops down to meet another paved path. Stay to the left. Salt ponds and Mountain View Slough sit to the right. The flat trail is lined with fennel, wild radish, and mustard. At 0.57 mile, ignore a path heading left back toward the lake and stay to the right. You'll pass a closed levee trail on the right and to the left, Coast Casey Forebay, a small marshy patch popular with ducks, then reach an unsigned junction at 0.82 mile. A new viewing platform perches above the marsh to the right, while on the left there's a small pump building peppered with swallow nests. The Bay Trail heads to the left, but turn right.
      A flat dirt trail bisects Charleston Slough and the Palo Alto Flood Basin. As you leave Shoreline and enter Baylands (a transition marked by a sign), look to the left for a group of white pelicans. If you stop to read a series of interpretive signs, you'll learn about the residents and ecology of this marsh. Returning, with a view westOff in the nearby mudflat, egrets and sandpipers hunt in a calm zen-like state, while other birds swoop overhead, occasionally dropping in a freefall straight into the water, often emerging with a mouthful of food. Along the path you might see pickleweed, dock, elderberry, coyote brush, New Zealand spinach, and a single bush of tree tobacco. The trail snakes north, eventually curving to the left and reaching the bay. Benches are available for rest stops. On a clear day, you'll have sweeping views west to the Santa Cruz Mountains, and east to Mission Peak and the surrounding hills. Riprap protects the banks of the levee against the bay to the right, incidentally providing habitat for some stoic ground squirrels. The Dumbarton Bridge is visible to the north. You can continue on the trail further north into Baylands, but the turnaround point for this hike is at 2.45 miles (at the 4-mile marker). Retrace your steps back to the unsigned junction at the northwest side of Shoreline Lake,just past Coast Casey Forebay (at 4.34 miles).Along Shoreline Lake
     Although you can walk part of the way around the lake, the golf course grounds block a complete circuit. (If you care to extend this hike, turn right, follow along the lake, then turn left where permitted, bisect the golf course, cross Permanente Creek, turn left, pass Rengstorff House and return to the parking lot.) Pass through the wooden stile and walk east (left) along the lake.
      The flat gravel trail follows the contour of the shoreline. If you're visiting on a temperate day, there'll likely be a swarm of rental boats zipping across the water. At 4.60 miles, the gravel path ends back at a previously encountered junction. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 4.88 miles
Last hiked: Friday, August 10, 2001