4.9 mile loop on trails fronting San Francisco Bay.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 4.9 mile out and back hike is easy. Shoreline trails
are almost completely flat.
Dirt trails and paved sidewalks.
Nice any time; good birdwatching in winter.
From US 101 in Santa Clara County, exit Shoreline Boulevard (exit #399).
Drive northeast about 1 mile on Shoreline Boulevard, through the gates into
Shoreline at Mountain View. Once past the entrance gate, drive about 1 mile
to the parking lot at the end of the road (near the lake).
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Longitude 122° 5'15.06"W
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
There's a small casual restaurant at the lake, and another more sit-down
establishment near the golf course. Gas back near 101. No camping in the
No parking or entrance fees. Lots of parking in several lots. Designated
handicapped parking is available, and trails are wheelchair accessible.
Wheelchair-accessible restrooms, drinking fountains, and pay phone in the
building near the lake; there are other phones, fountains, restrooms and
portable toilets at a few other locations in the park. Santa Clara VTA services
Shoreline's western edge.
No horses or dogs. Bicycles are restricted from some trails. Park is open
from 6 a.m. to 1/2 hour after sunset.
The Official Story:
View's Shoreline page
Shoreline info 650-903-6392
Alto Baylands page
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there
from Mountain View's website (paper maps are available at the park upstairs
at Rengstorff House)
Trail's website has a simple map and descriptions of the Bay Trail segment
in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
at Mountain View (that is the somewhat snobbish but
official name) is more than a park, it's a recreation extravaganza, with
a golf course, restaurants, a boating lake, kite flying field, and miles
of trails. All the facilities are well used, but most people seem to show
up at Shoreline for a walk or run. You'll see seniors and young moms,
high school runners, and tech folks on their lunch hours, taking advantage
of the flat paved and dirt paths around the lake and bay.
A string of parks and preserves allows hikers
to explore the bay to the north and south, with Shoreline as a logical
staging area. The Bay Trail ties together Mountain View's Shoreline with
Palo Alto's Baylands, and when new segments are completed the trail will
Baylands. Hikers can stick to the Bay Trail, which runs rather uncomfortably
close to the highway at times, or can choose to walk along the levee trails
which stretch out to meet the bay.
Near Shoreline trails buzz with human activity
and traffic noise, but out on the levees and sloughs of Baylands only
airplanes from nearby Palo Alto Airport compete with the sound of the
wind and birdsong. Shoreline and Baylands harbor lots of wildlife, and
you might see common birds such as ducks, avocets, swallows, sandpipers,
and white pelicans, along with more unusual creatures like jackrabbits
and burrowing owls.
The breezy trails along the bay are cool
even when the rest of the bay area is sweltering. The same windy conditions
you to the bone in winter, so dress accordingly.
Start at the parking lot near Shoreline
Lake. Begin walking on a paved trail to the right of the boathouse.
Unsigned paths scatter in many directions, but just aim for the trail
closest to the lake's (artifical) shore. Attractively manicured lawns
and landscaped grounds dotted with shade trees are soothingly lush even
in summer. Some visitors are content to sit near the lake on a bench or
under a tree with a book. If you decide to loll about, check where you
sit, because the park's collection of tame Canada geese poop in the grass
(and everywhere else). At 0.28 mile, a gravel trail continues around the
lake, while the paved path veers right. Stay on the pavement and bear
After a short rise, the trail drops down
to meet another paved path. Stay to the left. Salt ponds and Mountain
View Slough sit to the right. The flat trail is
lined with fennel, wild radish, and mustard. At 0.57 mile, ignore a path
heading left back toward the lake and stay to the right. You'll
pass a closed levee trail on the right and to the left, Coast Casey Forebay,
a small marshy patch popular with ducks, then reach an unsigned junction
at 0.82 mile. A new viewing platform perches above the marsh to the right,
while on the left there's a small pump building peppered with swallow
nests. The Bay Trail heads to the left, but turn right.
A flat dirt trail bisects Charleston Slough
and the Palo Alto Flood Basin. As you leave Shoreline and enter Baylands
(a transition marked by a sign), look to the left for a group of white
pelicans. If you stop to read a series of interpretive signs, you'll learn
about the residents and ecology of this marsh. Off in the nearby mudflat,
egrets and sandpipers hunt in a calm zen-like state, while other birds
swoop overhead, occasionally dropping in a freefall straight into the
water, often emerging with a mouthful of food. Along the path you might
see pickleweed, dock, elderberry, coyote brush, New Zealand spinach, and
a single bush of tree tobacco. The trail snakes north, eventually curving
to the left and reaching the bay. Benches are available for rest stops.
On a clear day, you'll have sweeping views west to the Santa Cruz Mountains,
and east to Mission Peak and the surrounding hills. Riprap protects the
banks of the levee against the bay to the right, incidentally providing
habitat for some stoic ground squirrels. The Dumbarton Bridge is
visible to the north. You can continue on the trail further north into
Baylands, but the turnaround point for this hike is at 2.45 miles (at
the 4-mile marker). Retrace your steps back to the unsigned junction
at the northwest side of Shoreline Lake, just
past Coast Casey Forebay (at 4.34 miles).
Although you can walk part of the way around
the lake, the golf course grounds block a complete circuit. (If you care
to extend this hike, turn right, follow along the lake, then turn left
where permitted, bisect the golf course, cross Permanente Creek, turn
left, pass Rengstorff House and return to the parking lot.) Pass through
the wooden stile and walk east (left) along the lake.
The flat gravel trail follows the contour
of the shoreline. If you're visiting on a temperate day, there'll likely
be a swarm of rental boats zipping across the water. At 4.60 miles, the
gravel path ends back at a previously encountered junction. Turn right
and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Total distance: 4.88 miles
Last hiked: Friday, August 10, 2001