San Francisco - South Bay - Palo Alto - Baylands Trail
Touring * Fitness * Beginner * Artistic *
From U.S. 101 (the Bayshore Freeway) going north in Palo Alto, take the Embarcadero East exit and turn toward the bay. Driving south, take the Embarcadero/Oregon Expressway exit and follow the signs to East Embarcadero. Turn right at Faber Place, the second street after the stoplight. (You'll be entering an office park.) Park in the cul-de-sac at the end of the street, right next to the trail's entrance.
The Baylands Trail has loads of potential, especially if the San Francisco Bay Trail project is ever completed (see Trail Advo-cates on page 435 in the Resource Guide). When that happens, this section will become part of the paved route that will someday fully encircle the bay. It already connects with Mountain View's Shoreline Park to the south. The territory around the Baylands Trail offers great bayland views, with both saltwater and freshwater marshes and the wildlife they support, including ducks, terns, and flocks of white pelicans. Starting at the end of Faber Place, enter the Baylands Trail heading south. At first, you must put up with the roar of traffic on U.S. 101, but the scenery to the east is of marshland, high grasses, a pond, and birds, seemingly deaf to the noise. This section of the trail would be perfect if only there was a time warp, taking you back to pre-automobile days. About three-quarters of a mile up, the trail emerges onto the shoulder of East Bayshore Frontage Road. Office buildings and their driveways soon appear on the left and then, two and a half miles from the Faber Place entrance, you'll cross a second wooden bridge and make a 90-degree turn inland. As you leave the buildings behind, the asphalt deteriorates somewhat, but the natural beauty of the scenery and the diminishing traffic noise make up for it. After half a mile, a trail intersection is marked with the sign, "Welcome to Shoreline at Mountain View." The south leg of this six-mile round-trip ends here, but if you want to connect with Shoreline Park (see page 146), turn left at the welcome sign and then take the first right and go another half a mile to a fork in the trail. Take the left fork and ascend the slight rise to follow what becomes a gravelly service road for another half mile. Watch for a wooden trail marker post on a rise to your right. Just beyond the marker, take a hard right to skate up to it. Go south and you'll see the gray wooden fence next to Shoreline Lake, with a steep, narrow, gravel-spattered slope leading down to the good pavement of the Shoreline Trail. You may elect to sidestep down this mess. Back at Faber Place, more diversions await to keep you in your skates, if you're not tired. First, you can explore the three-quarter-mile section of the Baylands Trail on the north side of Embarcadero. To get there, skate back up Faber and turn left toward the freeway to return to the stoplight. Cross Embarcadero to skate up Geng Road, following the signs for the Athletic Center (a couple of baseball diamonds and unlocked rest rooms). You'll see the trail rising up to a levee at the end of the athletic center parking lot. At first it's rather overgrown, with large bushes closing in from the sides, but soon your view will open up to reveal the municipal golf course on the right and, to the left, a creek that has been left in its natural state. Just as you start to feel you're really going to enjoy the scenery, the trail comes to a rust-red iron bridge at the end of the golf course. Don't bother crossing unless you want to examine the graffiti on the side of the utility building where the trail terminates. Return to Embarcadero, and, if you're still eager for more, skate on the bike lane past the office buildings on the right and the golf course and airport on the left. Turn left at the intersection where a big wooden sign announces that you're entering the Baylands Nature Preserve Center. You'll be skating on the street here, but there's a bike lane on the shoulder. The speed bumps are flat in the bike lane. (They're also fun to jump over or launch off.) The scenery is open and natural all around. Follow the road to its end, about a mile from your parking spot on Faber.
Aug 1, 1995
Aug 1, 1995