Hayward Shoreline

Waves lapping against bridge over marsh mouth

Trail Description and Views


The Hayward Regional Shoreline covers 817 acres along the bayshore between Hwy 92 and San Lorenzo Creek. It consists of sloughs, marshes, mud flats, rocky shoreline, and former landfills. In 1854, John Johnson built levees here in the salt marshes to create the first commercial salt production ponds on San Francisco Bay. In those days, salt was used for food preservation and silver mining. The ponds are no longer used for salt production and have mostly been restored to marshland. Landings were built on the shoreline in the 1850's to transport passengers, salt, and farm products to San Francisco. The Bay Trail runs mostly along the Bay here on dirt levees originally built for salt ponds and across newly-built bridges.

The Hayward Shoreline is a great place for seeing how the tides affect the Bay and the inland marshes. The bayshore changes radically, from wide mudflats at low tide, to wave-washed rocky and terraced shores at high tide. On the many bridges in this area, you can watch the tide waters rush in and out to feed and drain the sloughs, creeks, and marshes. At low tide, the marshes are mudflats, covered with scurrying birds probing in the mud for food. At high tide, the marshes are flooded, with birds lazily floating on the surface, wading the shallows, or diving underwater for a meal.

Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center At the south end of the shoreline, near Hwy 92, is the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center. It is housed in a large multi-story wooden building supported by piers above a marsh. It has permanent and changing exhibits on the shore and marsh environment. There are aquariums, an interactive computer exhibit on the Bay, microscopes, informative videos, and wall murals on Bay life. The center also has maps, a gift shop, and restrooms. Outside is an elevated observation platform that provides a good view of the surrounding marshlands. The center  is located at 4901 Breakwater Avenue, Hayward, CA, (510) 881-6751, e-mail address: hayshore@aol.com, open Tuesday-Sunday, 10-5.

Access Information

The last off-road segment of the Bay Trail south of the Hayward shoreline is along Alameda Creek. From there to the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, the route runs far inland from the Bay along city streets through suburbs and industrial areas. Views of the Bay or any natural body of water are few and far-between. The Bay Trail becomes an off-road path again from the Interpretive Center north, all the way to the San Leandro Marina. Most of the Hayward segment is unpaved.

There are several access points to the Hayward Regional Shoreline. The southernmost point can be reached from the East Bay by taking Hwy 880 to Hwy 92 west to the Clawiter Road/Eden Landing Road exit, just east of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge toll plaza. From the Peninsula, take the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge east, take the Clawiter Road/Eden Landing Road exit, turn left and cross over the highway. Cross Clawiter. Turn left on Breakwater Avenue, which curves to the right to parallel Hwy 92. Near the end of Breakwater Avenue is the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center. The trail begins next to the Center. The trail description below starts here.

The middle access point, which includes the park office, is off West Winton Avenue. Take Hwy 880 to the Winton Avenue exit. Head west on West Winton Avenue to the parking lot at the end of the road. The trail begins on either side of the Flood Control Channel.

The northernmost staging point is at Grant Avenue. Take Hwy 880 to the Washington Avenue exit. Take Washington Avenue south, then turn right on Grant Avenue. Follow Grant west. The parking lot of the staging area is on the right side of the road, just before it deadends.

With the replacement of the San Lorenzo Creek Bridge in the summer 1999, the northern end of the Hayward Shoreline can also be reached from the San Leandro shoreline trails north of the creek.

Click on the following pictures to see a larger version.

Trail Description and Views

Note: mileage readings are from a bicycle odometer. Your mileage may vary.

Viewing platform at Hayward Interpretrive Center You can climb up the obseration tower at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center to get a view of the area before starting.

Start of trail by Shoreline Interpretive Center 0.0: Start at the ramp at the base of the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center along the slough trail. The center sits right over a marsh, so there are likely to be shorebirds nearby. The trail is a wide dirt path with a slough channel on the right. Across the channel is a pickleweed marsh that is a preserve for the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

View of slough trail from Interpretive Center observation platform Follow along the slough towards the Bay. The trail runs by a network of sloughs and marshes on the right. Depending on the time of year, the marshes in this area can have a strong smell. This decreases as you get closer to the Bay.

Walkers along slough trail, with marshes on the right 0.1: Ponds are on the right, filled with wading birds. The network of levee roads around the ponds here are off-limits. These ponds are fresh, brackish, and saltwater marshes that were once salt production ponds. They were converted into marshes in the 1980's. The source of the freshwater is the nearby water treatment plant. The trail is a wide, smooth dirt road. It curves, then runs straight. To the left of the trail, up to Hwy 92, is a large triangular salt pond. This is part of the Oliver Ponds, which are no longer used for salt production.

Interpretive sign on trail 0.5: There is an interpretive sign on migrating birds and the importance of wetlands to endangered species.

Interpretive sign by the Bay and slough drainage 0.7: The trail crosses over a pipe that drains the marsh into the Bay. An interpretive sign there talks about shellfish. There are benches here to sit and enjoy the view of the Bay and the nearby San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

Mud terraces along the bayshore at low tide 0.8: The trail reaches the Bay, loops around the end of a pond, then heads north. The shore here consists of wave-eroded mud terraces covered with pickleweed and cordgrass. Wooden pilings can be seen in the Bay. A little farther on, ponds on the right are behind a fence. A sign warns that they contain recycled wastewater, though the flocks of birds in the ponds don't seem to mind. The trail leads over a large pipe that feeds baywaters into a long channel that leads back through the marsh ponds.

Egret along slough leading inland into Cogswell Marsh 1.1: The trail turns inland to go around a long inlet channel. The water runs under the trail in pipes and drains into an inland slough. Just past here, the trail forks. The path to the right goes inland along the slough through the middle of Cogswell Marsh. The path to the left goes along the Bay. For now, take the left fork.

1.2: The trail passes near a rocky point of land that reaches out into the Bay, then turns right. This is the site of Johnson's Landing. Low tide reveals more rocks along the point curving north for a short distance. Just beyond this point is a small sandy beach.

First bridge over slough The trail then crosses over a long wooden bridge. The waters of the Bay flow under the bridge into the marsh. At high tides, the Bay waters surge through here. The waves smack into the bridge pilings and cause the bridge to shake slightly. At low tide, the bridge extends over shallow mudflats.

Riprap-protected shoreline 1.3: The shoreline here is protected by riprap, which provides an ideal habitat for ground squirrels. The daring animals are constantly darting back and forth across the trail.

Sandy beach along Bay Trail north of 1st slough bridge 1.5: There is a small rocky point, which protects another small sandy beach here, covered with driftwood. Low tide reveals mudflats beyond the sand.

Wide mouth of Cogswell Marsh at low tide 1.6: The trail takes a sharp right turn at a wide entrance to the marsh. At low tide, this becomes a huge mudflat. At high tide, it is a wide bay. A rocky point of land at the mouth of this inlet provides a good view.  The trail follows this inlet inland.

Long Bridge over wide mouth of Cogswell Marsh slough at high tide 1.7: The trail reaches the longest bridge on the trail. The wooden bridge stretches across the huge mouth of the slough draining Cogswell Marsh. Just before the bridge, the trail meets up with the alternate path that leads inland through the marsh. At the other end of the bridge, the trail turns inland, running between pickleweed marshes.

Water treatment ponds seen from top of landfill hill 2.1: The trail reaches a fence that separates it from an inland water treatment pond that is off-limits. The trail reaches the mounds of the retired West Winton Avenue Landfill, then splits into three paths. The right path leads along the inland side of the landfill to the W. Winton Avenue park entrance. The chlorine smell of the water treatment ponds is strong here, so don't take this inland path if you have a sensitive nose. The middle path leads up and over the top of the landfill. There are paved roads on top of the landfill, but many lead to deadends. There are still leftover signs indicating where to dump different types of trash. The top of the landfill does provide good views of the area, however.

Slough by south side of landfill hill The left path follows along the edge of the landfill and heads towards the Bay. Take this left path. A slough runs next to the trail on the left.

South end of Triangle Marsh 2.4: At the end of the landfill, the trail splits into three paths again. The right path heads back up and over the top of the landfill. The middle path follows along the inland edge of Triangle Marsh, named for its shape. The left path continues west past the end of the marsh, then turns north to follow the bayshore.

Sandy beach south of flood control channel There is a small sandy beach here. The trail goes straight along the edge of the rocky shore.

North end of Triangle Marsh, trail to Winton Ave. entrance 2.7: At the north end of the landfill and Triangle Marsh, a branch of the trail leads inland along the flood control channel. This runs along the north side of the landfill and ends up at the W. Winton Avenue staging area.

Concrete dam and flood gates across Flood Control Channel After crossing over the pipes that connect Triangle Marsh to the Bay, the trail crosses over a concrete flood control gate that controls the flow between the Bay and the flood control channel.

Rocky Point near site of Hayward's Landing A footpath leads out from the main trail to a rocky point extending into the Bay. This was the site of Hayward's Landing. At low tide, rocks extend far north parallel to the shoreline from the point. The path here is a paved service road that follows along the north bank of the flood control channel inland.

Flood Control Channel with trail and landfill on north side 2.8: The gravel trail along the bayshore branches off to the left off the paved trail. The paved trail continues inland along the flood control channel and ends at W. Winton Ave. Take the gravel road to the left. Inland is a wide, dry grassy field.

3.0: Inland is an array of five tall transmitter towers on landfill hills. Near them are piles of rubble, rock, gravel, and huge rock-processing machinery. A wide gravel road  leads inland towards the landfill, but this is not part of the trail. A drainage ditch runs along the edge of the landfill hills and drains into the Bay. On the Bay side are mudflats, cordgrass patches, and the remains of pier pilings.

Trail north of landfill with antennas, between Bay and marsh  3.2: The trail drops slightly from the side of the dry landfill hills, then a wide marsh and pond begins on the right.

Looking up Sulphur Creek, plane doing aerobatics at Hayward air show 3.5: The trail reaches the banks of Sulphur Creek, which is a ruler-straight channel heading inland. The southern bank of the channel is open and accessible. The wide levee path along the creek leads straight inland past marshes and businesses, but it has no publicly-accessible outlet. It deadends near the railroad tracks after about a mile, requiring backtracking to the Bay. Across the railroad tracks is the Hayward Airport, which periodically hosts air shows. The north bank of the creek is fenced off and off-limits.

Bridge over mouth of Sulphur Creek A wooden bridge crosses over the mouth of Sulphur Creek next to the Bay.

Trail along Bay north of Sulphur Creek On the other side, a long pipe leads out into the Bay. The remains of pier pilings extend farther out into the Bay. These are hidden underwater during high tide. A slough and mudflats are on the right of the trail. The slough parallels the trail. On the Bay are mud terraces. The trail turns towards the Bay. There is a tiny pocket beach to the left of where the trail meets the Bay. The shore past here is riprap-protected. A small set of pilings appears in the Bay at low tide.

Concrete Bridge over mouth of slough 3.9: The trail crosses over a short but sturdy concrete bridge over the mouth of the slough. Massive concrete pilings support the bridge. The slough mouth is deep and narrow. Swift and strong tidal currents flow through this gap like the Golden Gate. At high tide, the Bay laps against the edge of the trail. Just past the bridge is a bench on a small rocky point.

4.1: On the right, on the other side of a narrow slough arm, is fenced-off private land, with small dry ponds.

Bridge over Bockman Channel, with pilings in Bay in background 4.3:  A short wooden bridge leads over Bockman Channel. Bockman Channel runs inland next to the Oro Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. On the Bay side are mudflats and cordgrass stands. Just past the channel are the remains of a long pier, with pilings and a concrete walkway. These are off-limits.

Pond by water treatment plant, south of San Lorenzo Creek 4.4: A small pond is on the right of the trail north of the water treatment plant.

San Lorenzo Creek Bridge 4.6: The trail reaches San Lorenzo Creek. The reconstructed creek bridge leads over the creek to join the trails along the San Leandro Shoreline. See the San Leandro page for more information on these trails.

Looking up San Lorenzo Creek towards Grant Ave. entrance The trail also turns right before the bridge the follow the creek inland. Take this route for now. The trail is a paved asphalt path. It follows the creek for awhile, then turns to the right at a power substation.

5.0: The trail ends at the parking lot near the end of Grant Avenue. There are no facilities here. Turn around and head back to the start, or cross the bridge over San Lorenzo Creek to continue on the trails to the north in San Leandro. On the way back, you can explore some of the other areas in the Hayward Shoreline, such as the inland trail through Cogswell Marsh, the south side of Sulphur Creek, the trails along the flood control channel, and the landfill hills.

Developed: 12/5/99 by Ronald Horii

Information and opinions on this page are the responsibility of the author.