Coyote Point

Bay view from cliffs at Coyote Point

Park Description and Views


The Bay Trail has been called "a string of pearls connecting gems." One of the brightest and most spectacular of those gems is Coyote Point. San Mateo County's Coyote Point Recreation Area in San Mateo is a large 670-acre park complex. It is located on a point of land that juts out into the Bay south of San Francisco International Airport. It was once an island, separated from the main shore by a marsh, which was filled in in the 1800's for dairy farming. The area was later used at different times as an amusement park, a Merchant Marine cadet school, and a college campus. San Mateo County acquired the land in 1942 and turned it into a park. The park is along the landing path for the airport, so it is a good place for airplane-watching.  It is a scenic, diverse, and very popular park, especially for weekend group picnics. Besides its many picnic areas, it has playgrounds, beaches, large lawns, a marina and yacht club, a fishing jetty, a large nature museum, a conference center, and a public firing range. The park has a network of roads, bike paths, and pedestrian-only paths. Click here for a map of the park.

The Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education is the highpoint of the park and one of the Bay Area's major museums. It was the first ecology museum in America. The multi-level museum features exhibits on the six major ecosystems in the Bay Area. Hands-on interactive displays, computer activities, videos, films, and live animals provide an educational and fun experience for all ages. For more information, you can contact the Museum at (650) 342-7755.

Access Information

Coyote Point is just off Hwy 101 between San Francisco International Airport and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge (Hwy 92). Northbound from the south, take the Dore Avenue exit, take an immediate left on N. Bayshore Blvd. and head north towards the park entrance on Coyote Point Drive. Southbound from the north, take the Poplar Avenue exit.  Turn right onto Humbolt, then turn right onto Peninsula Avenue.  Go over the freeway, and then circle around and into the park at Coyote Point Drive.

Click on the following pictures to see a larger version.

Park Description and Views

Playground near windsurfing beach at Coyote Point The park has several playgrounds. The largest is near the windsurfing beach on the west side of the park. This playground has a concrete hill with curving trough-like slides built into the hill. There are tunnels in the hill for climbing through. Elevated wooden platforms lead from the hill to slides and other equipment.

Playground by eucalyptus picnic area A smaller playground is on the east side of the park between the eucalyptus grove picnic area and the marina.

Lawn and facilities by Coyote Point beach Lawns extend out to the beach. Near the beach are buildings housing the park office, showers, restrooms, and a snack bar.

Kayaks on Coyote Point Beach The beach is a popular place for windsurfing, kayaking, and other water sports.

Swimming beach at Coyote Point The long sandy beach provides one of the few areas on San Francisco Bay for swimming.

Coyote Point swim beach The beach has lifeguard stations. The warm shallow waters are inviting for kids. The wind-generated waves provide an ocean-like experience.

Lawn area near Coyote Point beach There are broad open lawns west of the point. Picnic tables are protected from the Bay breezes by low berms. Beyond it, the land rises up into a rocky hill covered with tall eucalyptus trees. More lawns, playgrounds, and shaded picnic areas are on the hill.

Path through eucalyptus grove The eucalyptus groves are one of the hallmarks of the park. They provide shade and a windbreak against the strong bay winds.

Shady paths through the eucalyptus groves on top of the hill. Bicycle and pedestrian-only trails criscross the hill, many under the shade of the eucalyptus trees and some along the edges of the cliffs. The trails here are in sharp contrast to the rest of the usually flat and wide open Bay Trail.

Coyote Point Environmental Museum The Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education sits on top of the hill at the point, with views of the Bay out the picture windows. Next to the large wood-paneled musuem building is the 1-acre Wildlife Habitats, with walk-through environments and gardens. Animals and exhibits include an enclosed outdoor aviary, a coyote, bobcat, porcupine, badger, raccoon, fox, reptiles, amphibians, and river otters.

Mural at Coyote Point Museum Inside, the museum is built on several levels. The main Environmental Hall covers 8,000 square feet, with informative and interactive exhibits on nature and the environment. There is a large mural and display at the entrance to the main hall on the top floor.

Coyote Point Musuem main hall exhibits Each succeeding level covers different environments and environmental issues. There is a large food pyramid showing how much food a predator eats in a year. There are large hangng models of gray whales and aquarium tanks.

Bay model at Coyote Point Museum At the bottom of the Environmental Hall is a model of a bay marsh. A platform leads over the simulated marsh. A window in the floor of the platform allows looking down into the marsh "waters" to see the plants and animals that live there.

Looking down cliff at Coyote Point Along the northeast side of the point, steep cliffs drop down to narrow rocky beaches.

Viewing platform at northeast point of Coyote Point At the northeast corner of the point, a viewing platform on the edge of a cliff provides panoramic views of San Francisco Bay.

Entrance to Coyote Point Yacht Harbor, view of San Mateo Bridge Looking east from the viewing platform, the breakwater and entrance to the Coyote Point Marina can be seen, with the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in the background. The breakwater provides fishing access to the Bay.

Coyote Point Marina The Coyote Point Marina is a busy yacht harbor that runs along most of the east side of the park. At the southern end of the Marina is the Coyote Point Yacht Club. This private yacht club is over 50 years old and has some 300 members.

Marsh and spit at Coyote Point South and east of the Coyote Point Marina are marshes along the Bay. Footpaths lead through the marshes. These marshes are the remnants of the wetlands that used to surround Coyote Point many years ago when the point was an island.

Developed: 12/14/99 by Ronald Horii
Information and opinions expressed here are the responsibility of the author.