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The San Francisco Bay Trail is a colossal effort to create a 500-mile multiuse trail encircling its namesake bay. Along its course, the trail will link 47 cities through 9 counties, providing numerous connections to local employment hubs, transit, parks and open spaces, and schools and other civic centers. As of 2017, more than 300 miles of trail are open, consisting of off-road trails with a mix of surface types, as well as stretches of bike lanes and sidewalks. For now, gaps big and small separate the open portions.
The network is incredibly diverse, with the peaceful stretches through the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and China Camp State Park seemingly worlds away from the portion through the bustling Port of Oakland or alongside the active Union Pacific Railroad freight and Amtrak's Capitol Corridor passenger lines in Bayview and Pinole. Plane spotters will appreciate the sections that offer panoramic views of both San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport, while sports enthusiasts will enjoy the easy access to AT&T Park, O.co Coliseum, Oracle Arena and the former Candlestick Park site.
An urban highlight includes the rail-trail stretch of the trail on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Here, the trail follows the path of the old State Belt Railroad, which transferred cargo from ships to main line railroads and cars onto ferries for trips across the bay. The area is always crowded with tourists and locals out to enjoy walking, running and biking along the bay and green space areas of the city. Serious cyclists will want to use the bike lanes on the adjacent street.
Another urban destination is Oakland's Jack London Square, which is easily accessed from the trail. You can catch the ferry to San Francisco here, have a bite to eat, enjoy the historical statues and murals or simply admire the views. From here you can use on-street bike lanes to connect to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and Portview Park, perfect for family outings.
The system features a handful of bridges over San Francisco Bay and its offshoots, providing perhaps the best opportunity to take in the sweeping water views. Short trails through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area on opposite shores lead up to the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, which offers separated bicycle and pedestrian paths between San Francisco and Marin County. A 2-mile stretch called the Golden Gate Promenade is especially popular. Paralleling a sandy beach, the trail connects the city’s Marina District to the Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian and bicycle access. The trailside Crissy Marsh is also an excellent destination for birders.
The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge likewise features a bicycle and pedestrian path—alternatively called the Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path or the Bay Bridge Trail—on its new eastern span between Oakland and a point east of Yerba Buena Island. Ultimately, the trail will be extended to the small island and the adjacent Treasure Island.
Even farther south, the Dumbarton Bridge—the southernmost highway bridge across San Francisco Bay—also offers safe passage for trail users between Menlo Park and Fremont, although the speeding cars just a few feet from the path (and separated by only a low wall) might unnerve first-time visitors. Two vehicular crossings of the Carquinez Strait also provide bicycle and pedestrian accommodations: the Carquinez Bridge links Crockett and Vallejo, while the Benicia–Martinez Bridge connects its namesake cities.
A number of connecting trails feed into and separate from the San Francisco Bay Trail, offering additional opportunities to explore the surrounding communities. In the South Bay, pick up the Stevens Creek Trail to extend south into Mountain View or take the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail to reach Levi's Stadium and other destinations in Santa Clara. A portion of San Jose's Highway 237 Bikeway overlaps the San Francisco Bay Trail, while the Guadalupe River Trail intersects it, offering easy access to downtown San Jose.
In the East Bay, the Alameda Creek Regional Trail links the San Francisco Bay Trail with Fremont, and the Aquatic Park Trail branches off from the network to encircle the popular park in Berkeley. Farther north, the Richmond Greenway uses a former rail corridor to travel east through residential neighborhoods in Richmond from its junction with the San Francisco Bay Trail.
North of the bay in Vallejo, the developing Napa Valley Vine Trail overlaps the San Francisco Bay Trail, and will ultimately offer an uninterrupted journey north into wine country. Farther west, Marin County's extensive trail network weaves in and out of the San Francisco Bay Trail's route, offering even more recreational and active transportation opportunities.
The San Francisco Bay Trail features numerous access points and places to park along its lengthy route. Refer to the TrailLink map for exact access points and parking locations, or visit the San Francisco Bay Trail's official website.
When the trail begins at Ravenswood it is unpaved until Bay road if you take trail that goes along 101. If you decide to go along the Bay on the other side of the Palo Alto airport it will be unpaved until you get closer to the Shoreline park. It is paved throughout the park and pavement ends at the point where Bay Trail splits with Stevens Creek trail and is unpaved all the way to the I-237. After that you can finish the ride at the Baylands park or turn left and go towards San Tomas Aquino trail or keep on going all the way to the Guadalupe River trail that would take you to downtown SJ via SJ airport.
Hits many of the highlights of San Francisco with amazing views on clear days. GG bridge, Alcatraz, Bay Bridge and Coit Tower are just a few of landmarks you will see. Bring layers though as temperature/wind can change very quickly along the water. Also, the street areas are easier than mixed use as there are a lot of joggers and urban hikers using the trail.
This is more of a question than a review. I'd like to give this trail a try. Can anybody offer a source of information about which parts of the bay trail are paved and which parts are gravel? I'm riding a cruiser, so I'd prefer to stick to the paved parts if I can.
I rode my new Brompton folding bike on this and so much was rough unpaved gravel that I had to divert and ride another trail that was paved. It is ok if you have a serious off road mountain bike but not great for road bikes.
While traveling we love to find new walking and bike trails this is great for both... Very scenic and makes a 2 mile loop along the water.
I've rollerblades this trail and it definitely isn't all asphalt. Somebody should update this- it's really rather disappointing to get out and find you can't go all the way where you thought you could.
I was the first time in San Francisco and its the best trail to see highlights of the city. We stayed at a hotel on Richardson Ave, just a few minutes from Golden Gate Bridge. We booked it at http://san-francisco.hotelscheap.org/ . We also went to the Japanese Tea Garden. You get a wonderful view to Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.
Although this is a very nice trail beware of where you park. On Oct 19 I parked in a small parking lot off of the frontage road between Ashby and Powell in Emeryville. I was gone about 45 minutes and when I came back my car was broken into. This was about 830 in the morning. The trail itself is nice and good scenery.
We were looking for a beginners bike path, which in the park would have been alright. But, if you are out of the area and not use to neighbor-hoods, which you may want to read between the lines here, you may not want to go to this area.
We ended up down the road on Hwy. 580, south to Albany, and right off of the road by a horse racetrack is a wonder paved path for bikes, walkers and a huge area were people take their dogs to run. This was wonderful!!! It runs along the bay and is just beautiful. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, San Rafael Bridge and like I said, it is just wonderful.
This trail goes past (or has views of) all the big tourist sites for San Francsico. Downtown, Embarcadero, Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf, Fort Mason, Marina, Presidio, Fort Point, and the Golden Gate Bridge!
If you are visiting San Francsico, or you have friends visiting, this is the trail to ride. The southern end is ATT park, home of the SF Giants. Going north the path passes right on the bay and ender the Bay Bridge.
The Southern section of the trail between King Street and Beach Street, is a wide sidewalk on the east side of Embarcadero. On a nice day there are too many pedestrians to bicycle the sidewalk, so use the bike lane in the road. Just to the east of the Embarcadero is downtown, then Chinatown, and the Italian North Beach neighborhoods. Lots of great bay views on this section.
Between Bay Street (pier 39) and Hyde St (aquatic park) there is no trail or bike lane. Beach street has relatively low traffic for the on street connection, or possibly North Point st. This section passes by Fisherman's Wharf.
After Hyde street ride through the Aquatic Park, and after Van Ness a trail roadway right along the bay to Fort Mason. This section has excellent views of the bay, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Next ride along the marina green; a big grassy area with lots of people enjoying the outdoors.
After Baker St, enter the Presidio, a former army base, now a large park. There is a paved trail along the road, or a earth trail next to the bay, with grasslands and wet lands in between.
Continue all the way to Fort Point right underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. If you still have energy, go up the hill and ride across the bridge, (it has sidewalks).
If you are visiting San Francsico, there are shops in the Fisherman's Wharf area that rent bicycles along with a map for how to ride the Golden Gate Bridge.
Great views of the Bay! Informative signs along the trail explain the area's past including ferrys, shipyards, and brick factories.
The Ferry Point Tunnel IS bicycle safe. There is a wide raised sidewalk and the tunnel is well lit.
Be sure to ride out to the Ferry Point and see the adandoned ferry terminal. (I missed the turn).
Some great maps of this trail and other Richmond trails are available here,
This trail offers sweeping views of the Bay, Bridges, and Islands. It passes through tidal wetlands with lots of wildlife viewing.
At the southern end its possible to ride around the west side of Golden Gate Fields and continue on the Bay trail all the way to Powell Street in Emeryville. At the Northern end its an easy connection to the Ferry Point trail and the Rickmond Pkwy trails.
The City of Richmond actually has lots of nice bike trails including the new Central Richmond Greenway. Trails for Richmond Action Comittee has a nice map here, http://www.pointrichmond.com/baytrail/map.htm
The map is very helpful for navigating through the Marina Bay and Harbour Way developments; and connecting to the Ferry Point trail.
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