Redwood Shores

Redwood Shores, marsh along Steinberger Slough, looking west
Introduction
Access
Trail Description and Views
Trail Closure Update Note and Alternate Route
Go to the Foster City Tour

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Introduction

Redwood Shores, which is a community of Redwood City, is a 1500-acre peninsula that juts into San Francisco Bay east of Hwy 101, between Foster City and the Bair Islands. On its northwest flank is Belmont Slough. To the southeast is Steinberger Slough. Along its northeast point on San Francisco Bay are marshlands that are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Like Foster City, Redwood Shores is a planned, developed community. This peninsula was originally covered with marshlands, whose rich shellfish beds provided food for the Native Americans in the area. Later, it became cattle grazing land. In the 1920's the land was diked off from the Bay by the Leslie Salt Company and used as salt evaporation ponds. Redwood Shores was annexed by Redwood City in 1959. Development of the area began in the 1960's. Marine World was built here in 1968 and moved to Vallejo in 1986. After it left, its site eventually developed into the headquarters of Oracle Corporation, whose tall office towers can be seen from miles away. Now Redwood Shores is the home of planned residential communities with a population of about 15,000, shopping centers, and a growing number of high-tech companies in large office complexes. Artificial lagoons and channels run through the center of the peninsula, while sloughs and marshes surround it. Private and public parks are scattered throughout the peninsula. Nearby is the Hiller Aviation Museum. Extensive residential and industrial construction is going on in the area, so trail conditions and routings are likely to change. Click here for a history of Redwood Shores.

The Bay Trail through Redwood Shores leads over a wide variety of surfaces, from paved bike paths on the side of busy roads to rough, narrow single-track dirt paths. The trail can be taken as a loop trip around the Redwood Shores peninsula. [Note: see below for information about recent trail closures.] From the northwest end of the trail, by Oracle's corporate headquarters, the Bay Trail can be taken further north into Foster City. From there, it runs nearly uninterrupted along the Bay all the way from San Mateo to Millbrae, at the edge of San Francisco Airport. The next completed Bay Trail segment to the south of Redwood Shores is the short isolated stretch along Seaport Blvd. to the Port of Redwood City. However, public access is currently allowed around the levee surrounding Inner Bair Island, which can be reached at the end of Whipple Road. The proposed Bay Trail route south of Redwood Shores will run on the levee along Steinberger Slough, past the San Carlos County Airport. It will then run between Inner Bair Island and Hwy 101, then cut inland to eventually reach the trail along Seaport Blvd. to the Port of Redwood City.


Access Information

To get to the southwest corner of Redwood Shores, get off Hwy 101 at the Holly Street/Redwood Shores Parkway off-ramp, near the San Carlos County Airport, and head towards the bay. An unofficial access point is through a sometimes-unlocked gate at the end of Twin Dolphin Drive, next to the large Pacific Athletic Club complex. A paved trail leads along a small, narrow channel. The trail to the right is unused and overgrown with weeds. It dead ends at a locked gate near Redwood Shores Parkway. The trail to the left is much wider and runs behind the tennis courts, buildings, and pool of the athletic club.

Stormwater pond behind athletic club The paved trail ends at the end of the club, where the channel empties into a larger lagoon. It continues on around the lagoon as a narrow, rough footpath rimmed with thorny weeds. This can be a difficult path for road bikes when the weeds are high. It runs behind a shopping center and condominium complex to join up with the start of the Bay Trail.

To get to the current official start of the Bay Trail, take Redwood Shores Parkway farther up, turn right on Bridge Parkway, which ends at Tiller Lane at Mariner Park. Head across the lawns of Mariner Park to the edge of Steinberger Slough. The trail begins at the edge of the park. To catch the Bay Trail a couple blocks farther south, turn right on Tiller Lane, then turn left onto Spar Drive. At the end of Spar Drive is a path leading to the gravel-surfaced Bay Trail. To the right, the trail goes a short distance and ends at a fence. A narrow gap in the fence allows access to the path around the lagoon mentioned above. To follow the Bay Trail, turn left and follow the trail north along wide Steinberger Slough. The trail descriptions below follow from this point.


Trail Description and Views


Click on the following pictures to see a larger version. Hold your cursor over the pictures to read the captions. The pictures were taken on different days and in different seasons. Note that the mileage readings below were taken from a bicycle odometer. Your mileage may vary. Trail conditions and accessibility are subject to change. Note that at the time of this writing, part of the trail route was closed. This is noted below.


Beginning of Bay Trail by Steinberger Slough Starting from the trail entrance at the end of Spar Drive, to the left is the main part of the trail, which follows Steinberger Slough to the Bay.

Mariner Park lawn After 0.1 miles is grassy Mariner Park. The 6.25-acre park is a large lawn play area with scattered trees, but has no paved trails through it.

Edge of Mariner Park along Steinberger Slough The Bay Trail route is a narrow gravel path along the edge of the park lawn next to the slough. There is a wide expanse of pickleweed covering the cove in front of the park.


View across Steinberger Slough towards Hwy 101 Steinberger Slough is a broad waterway that runs inland, then curves to the south along the San Carlos County Airport. On the opposite shore are the three undeveloped Bair Islands (Inner, Middle, and Outer). Redwood Shores once looked much like these islands. Parts of these islands belong to the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and are protected wildlife habitats. They comprise the largest restorable wetland in San Francisco Bay and were recently saved from development that would have turned them into another version of Redwood Shores. Plans are being made for the future of the Bair Islands..

Trail running behind houses along Steinberger Slough The trail winds behind the backyards of houses. There is a narrow greenbelt between the trail and the backyard fences.

Path through small park at Cringle Dr. and Barkentine Ln. A pocket park appears at 0.4 miles. Trees line a lane that runs from the Bay Trail to the intersection of Cringle Drive and Barkentine Lane.

Old boat dock on Steinberger Slough Ahead, the trail runs behind some condos. On the slough side are marshes with occasional abandoned boat docks.

At 0.6 miles is a private park with a playground and tennis courts.

Sidewalk through new lawn and park area At 0.8 miles, a long lawn area begins that runs between the trail and some condominium complexes. A concrete sidewalk winds through the lawn area. There is a small round playground, a large water tank, and a fire station. A path leads past the fire station to Redwood Shores Parkway. The sidewalk ends just past here.

Birds in Steinberger Slough near Portman and Seal Pointe The marshes on the slough side are part of the Redwood City Ecological Reserve. They abound with water birds, such as stilts, egrets, and herons.

Lagoon behind lawn and bushes At 1.2 miles, the end of an artificial lagoon is visible, surrounded by more condos.

Small private park by Seachase Dr. and Seal Point At 1.3 miles, there is another small private park and playground. A sidewalk begins with parcourse stations, paralleling the levee trail. There is a broad lawn area here.

At 1.4 miles, the trail curves to the left. The sewage treatment plant and the mouth of Steinberger Slough come into view.

Park and parcourse At 1.5 miles is a park with exercise stations. A path leads inland to Seal Pointe Drive. There is a wooden deck shaded with trees here.

Looking back at big houses along paved trail Just beyond this park, the gravel trail becomes a paved path. A line of large houses begins. Their backyard fences face the trail.

Path to Redwood Shores Parkway by small playground At 1.6 miles, a path leads inland past a small playground to Redwood Shores Parkway. [Note: this is the start of the alternate route bypassing the trail closure]

Big marsh near power towers Just beyond that, the houses next to the trail end. On the bayside are broad pickleweed flats. A line of power towers can be seen ahead.

At 1.8 miles, the giant line of power towers crosses the trail. Wooden catwalks lead out over the marsh to the nearest towers in the slough.

Field in front of dog park, water treatment plant and pond in background Inland is a open field that becomes a pond in the rainy season.

Dog park with lagoon in background At 2.0 miles is a small dog park, Shore Dogs Park,  next to a lagoon. A steep informal path leads down from the levee to the park, though it is more easily reached from Radio Road.

Sewage treatment plant Just beyond that is the South Bayside System Authority Wastewater Treatment Works. The plant is to the left of the trail. It is surrounded by treatment ponds of varying size.

NOTE: This part of the trail described below to past the 4.4 mile point is currently closed to public access. Do not trespass. The pictures below were taken before the closure. They are included for historical purposes and in case this route is opened again:

Mouth of Steinberger Slough on San Francisco Bay At 2.3 miles, the paved trail ends near the mouth of Steinberger Slough on San Francisco Bay, at the east corner of the wastewater treatment plant. The path continues on as a gravel trail, then turns left before it reaches the Bay.

Trail next to water treatment plant ponds along edge of Bay A rough dirt trail, not yet an official part of the Bay Trail, runs to the north, between the treatment plant's ponds and the bay.

Sandy point by water treatment plant, near mouth of Steinberger Slough There is a stretch of sandy beach along the Bay. The lands on the bayside of the trail are part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. These are protected areas that are off-limits to public access.

Narrow S-shaped slough running through marsh by the Bay The lands along the Bay here are pickleweed and cordgrass marshes, providing a home for the endangered clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. Small channels run through the marsh and lead out to the Bay.

At 2.6 miles, the path is joined by another dirt path running along the northwest edge of the treatment plant. The main trail then becomes a wider and smoother dirt road as it continues along next to the bay. To the south is a large marshy field with a network of radio transmitter towers.

Along Bay Slough, looking towards mouth to south At around 2.8 miles, the trail passes the eastern mouth of shallow Bay Slough.

Trail along Bay Slough and Bird Island Beyond the slough is marshy Bird Island, part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The trail follows the slough to the west.

New housing development by artificial lagoon At around 3.0 miles, a new housing development begins, separated from the trail by an artificial channel. At 3.5 miles, the trail makes an S-curve to the left.

Bird in slough by Belmont Slough and San Mateo Bridge Here, Bay Slough widens out and meets the mouth of larger Belmont Slough. A narrow dirt path branches off to the left to run inland along the top a levee. The main trails also narrows.

Belmont Slough, San Mateo Bridge Across the mouth of Belmont Slough, the tip of the Foster City peninsula can be seen. Beyond that is the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. At 3.6 miles, the trail turns left and follows Belmont Slough inland.

Catwalk under power tower on Belmont Slough At 3.8 miles, the trail again passes under the high-tension power lines. A catwalk leads down to the power tower next to the trail in Belmont Slough.

Big Marsh by side of trail along Belmont Slough A narrow slough channel begins on the left side of the trail at the edge of a huge marsh area. The slough follows the trail and gradually widens out. At 4.1 miles, the trail, which is a double-track dirt trail, curves more to the left. At 4.4 miles, it becomes a narrow levee trail.

Note: this is the end of the closed portion of the trail. The portions below are open:

Wide marsh near apartments on Belmont Slough The trail passes through an open gate and gets closer to housing developments. To the right of the trail along Belmont Slough is a tide gate that allows water from the slough to flow into the Redwood Shores lagoon system. A branch trail that parallels Shearwater Parkway joins the main trail here. [Note: this is end of the trail bypass route.]

Forebay and Bridge To the left is a forebay. A bridge leads over a channel that feeds into the Redwood Shores Lagoon system. Egrets and herons can often be seen feeding by the intake pipes.

Gravel path by apartments, looking back The trail turns to the right and at 4.5 miles, becomes a groomed, landscaped gravel path with benches, next to an apartment complex.

Trail by lagoon outside of new bike path by new ofc cmplx At 4.7 miles, the gravel path ends at a fence near the border of a new industrial complex. A paved path along the industrial complex is under construction and should be completed in 2000. A rough dirt path follows along the levee between Belmont Slough and a small marsh to the south. The path follows the S-curve of the marsh and then heads south. At 5.2 miles, the small marsh ends, and the dirt trail passes through a pipe barrier.

New path by Belmont Slough by new industrial parks The trail then runs next to the new section of Bridge Parkway. A new paved trail section runs next to the road and currently runs all the way to Oracle Parkway. At 5.6 miles, it passes by the confluence of two arms of Belmont Slough. To the left is a park with a parcourse next to some condos. The new paved trail rounds the end of the east arm of Belmont Slough.

Beginning of path along Oracle Parkway by Oracle Corp. entrance At 5.9 miles, the new path ends at the paved path around Oracle Parkway. This path is on private property belonging to Oracle Corporation, but is open to the public for recreational purposes. The path is landscaped and includes parcourse stations, shade trees, benches, restrooms, and picnic tables. This path circles around Oracle Parkway for 1.1 miles and ends up back on Marine Parkway on the other side of Oracle.

View of slough and houses from Oracle Parkway path The path follows up the east arm of Belmont Slough. The Bay Trail segment taken earlier and the new developments can be seen on the opposite shore.
 

Point on Oracle Parkway at the confluence of arms of Belmont Slough The trail turns at a point of land at the confluence of the arms of Belmont Slough. This point provides fine views of Belmont Slough and Foster City on the opposite shore.

Oracle Point, with trees and lawn There is a large lawn at this point, surrounded by tall trees along the edge of the slough.

New ped. bridge over Belmont Slough from Oracle Parkway  Oracle Parkway continues as a semi-circular path around the Oracle Corporation complex, with the marshy banks of Belmont Slough on the right. The slough gradually narrows. A new pedestrian bridge crosses over Belmont Slough, joining to new Oracle buildings on the opposite shore.

Island Park across Belmont Slough from Oracle Parkway Across the slough is Island Park. Oracle Parkway ends at Marine Parkway.

Oracle Corporation buildings and reflecting pond Oracle's headquarters buildings and large reflecting pond can be seen here.

To get back to the starting point, there are a couple of options. One is to take Marine Parkway to Twin Dolphin Drive, which is halfway between each end of Oracle Parkway. A concrete sidewalk and asphalt bike path run next to each other on the left side of the road. The road runs by new high rise buildings that rim the picturesque lagoon of Belmont Channel.

Parcourse trail along creek near Twin Dolphin Drive, looking back The other option is to cross Marine Parkway and turn right down Shoreway Road. Behind the parking lot of an industrial park and next to Belmont Creek is a gravel-surfaced parcourse path. This path begins off Shoreway Road, just past the intersection with Oracle Parkway. It runs along the creek banks, which are shaded by trees.

Path along Twin Dolphin Drive It eventually runs next to Twin Dolphin Drive, but the landscaping provides a park-like atmosphere.

Catapult sculpture along parcourse next to Twin Dolphin Drive Along the way is a sculpture that looks like a catapult.

Redwood Shores Lagoon Across the street is the end of Redwood Shores Lagoon, lined with businesses and a large hotel.

The parcourse path ends at a parking lot for a small industrial park. Another path continues to follow Belmont Creek as the creek makes a right-angle turn to the southwest. This path ends at Shoreway Road, which parallels Hwy 101.

Twin Dolphin Drive eventually hits Redwood Shores Parkway, which you can take back to your starting point.

To get to Foster City, take either Marine Parkway or Oracle Parkway to the west intersection of the two and head up on Oracle Parkway. Turn immediately onto Shoreway Road. After crossing over a creek, a bike path starts near a powerline tower. The bike path follows the creek and crosses the Belmont city limit. It ends on a street behind an auto dealer. Turn right on the street and cross the bridge over an arm of Belmont Slough. Continue on past the Belmont Sports Complex to the T-intersection at a hotel and a small manmade lake. Turn right on Concourse Drive and follow the road until it ends at a cul-de-sac. A short path leads to a paved multi-use path. A playground and parcourse are nearby. The path runs for 0.2 miles behind some condos. After passing through a gate, the trail enters Foster City and becomes a wide paved trail, part of the Foster City Pedway/Bikeway Facility. It shortly intersects the narrower paved trail that wraps around Foster City. This is the Foster City segment of the Bay Trail.

Go to the Foster City Bay Trail Tour


Trail Closure Update Note and Alternate Route:

Gate across trail by sewage treatment plant
The unpaved trails along the levees at the outer edge of Redwood Shores, which are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge are currently closed to public access by an agreement between Redwood City and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This is related to the effort to reduce the predation on the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and clapper rail in the marshlands along the Bay and sloughs. This is a controversial issue, and the situation may change. (See these articles: September '98, January 2000, February 2000.)

The status of the trail route is up in the air, but I have plotted out an alternate, currently unofficial bypass route, described below. It follows for a short distance on public roads, then follows neighborhood recreational paths that run as close as possible to the Bay. Parts of this route run next to private property, but the paths are not restricted (at the time of this writing). Parks and playgrounds along the way may be restricted to residents only. The route runs along artificial lagoons instead of the Bay, so the environment is park-like, but is not as natural an experience as travelling along the Bay.

Path to Redwood Shores Parkway by small playground Just after the gravel trail turns into an asphalt path at approx. 1.6 miles, turn left onto the path leading to a small playground. A sign here says the path leads to Redwood Shores Parkway.

New playground on Governors Bay Dr. near Bayberry Lane Take the path, which runs by the playground. Cross private Governor's Bay Drive to Redwood Shores Parkway. Watch out for traffic on this road, as there are no bike lanes on this side, though there is a wide sidewalk.

View from Redwood Shores Parkway of lagoon and start of Radio Road Turn right on the road and follow it for another 0.2 miles, going over a lagoon arm, then turn right on Radio Road, which has bike lanes. After 0.2 miles, just before reaching Shoredogs Park, a new paved path appears on the left side of  Radio Road near a new office building.

Path by Radio Road by lagoon, houses, and new office bldg Follow this paved path, which runs next to a lagoon by some new apartments. The new office complex is to the right. Further ahead, on Radio Road, is a radio transmitter station, with its huge antennas.

Small park by the end of Radio Road There is a park and playground after 0.2 miles.

Path by new lagoon and houses north of Radio Road Continue ahead. After 0.3 miles, cross the lagoon on a bridge, then turn right and follow the path along the lagoon.

Lagoon and path along Seabrook Court This soon parallels Seabrook Court. Cross another bridge after 0.3 miles and turn right.

Park at point in lagoon The path follows the lagoon as it turns left. There is a new park and playground on the left. On the right is a closed access path to the levee trail on Bay Slough near Belmont Slough. Continue on the paved path to the left.

Sidewalk along north end of lagoon under power towers  After 0.2 miles, a paved path branches off to the left and follows along the lagoon that runs under the powerline right-of-way.

Northwest corner of lagoon under power towers Keep going straight. The paved path ends near a fenced off levee. Go the left and get onto another paved path.

Dirt path along lagoon heading to Shearwater Parkway  Follow this path to the right, which joins the graded gravel path along the marsh levee. Turn left here and follow this path, which turns right to follow Shearwater Parkway after 0.2 miles.

Dirt path along Shearwater Parkway The graded path ends, and the dirt levee path continues along the side of the marsh. Fences prevent access to the huge marsh. After 0.4 miles, the path T's on the side of Belmont Slough.

Last closed gate on levee on Belmont Slough The levee path along the slough to the right is blocked by a fence. Take the wide levee path to the left, which passes by the tidal gates feeding the lagoon system from Belmont Slough. After 0.1 miles, a graded gravel path with benches begins in front of the apartment complex described at 4.5 miles above.

Continue on the rest of the tour above.



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Developed: 8/3/2000 by Ronald Horii
Information and opinions here are the responsibility of the author.