I thought that winter was prime time to catch waterfowl and shoreline birds in action — and maybe it is — but our mid-July hike in Fremont, CA was amazingly rewarding in terms of wildlife spotted.
We started out on the Bayview Trail in Coyote Hills Regional Park, one of my favorite East Bay Regional Park District holdings. The first thing that caught our notice — while still in the Quarry parking lot — was a high, swirling flock of about thirty birds. We craned to get a better look and finally concluded that they were white pelicans.
After that we turned south and followed the level path (suitable for bicycles, horses, and hikers) southwest. As we walked alongside South Marsh, something large caught our attention and we all stood transfixed as a deer waded through the water.
Soon the trail climbs gently over a rise and San Francisco Bay comes into view. We turned left onto Apay Trail, which runs south parallel to the water (this is also part of the regional Bay Trail). We watched a number of black and white birds as they flew 20 feet above the water, turned to point head down, and then plunged into the water. It was very entertaining to hear the soft “plops” as we walked along.
We spotted tall, white egrets standing as if frozen in place, but ready to strike at moment’s notice if a fish swam by.
When we approached the southern boundary of the park our experience changed dramatically — the noise of construction vehicles drew our attention. We had come upon a huge excavation, 300 feet deep, with a pool of water at the bottom and surrounded by chain link fence. It is a former rock quarry owned by Dumbarton Quarry Associates. Workers were grading dirt near the gaping hole.
According to a City of Fremont report dated Jan. 28, 2010, what is now in progress is the former quarry operator’s reclamation of the the site for use by the EBRPD as a regional park with removal of the quarry equipment and grading of the area surrounding the pit.
EBRPD next plans to implement erosion control including hydro-seeding, then to allow the quarry pit to fill by storm water runoff — expected to take 5-7 years to reach maximum capacity, and to create hiking trails, picnic areas, and other visitor amentities.
We’ve also heard rumors that there are plans to create a marina with fishing and an campground suitable for RVs, but that the economy has slowed progress on the project. Time will tell, but our foursome agreed that we hoped the project would be delayed indefinitely if it involves allowing camping and fishing in the area, which would not only drastically alter this park’s use, it would severely impact its wildlife and shatter its peaceful nature.
We soon reached Coyote Hills’ southern boundary at Hwy 84, which is also the approach to the Dumbarton Bridge. A concrete overpass, which is also the roof of the tollbooths, leads into Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
In the next article, you’ll follow us on our hike that continues into a gem of a National refuge in our midst. Subscribe by clicking the button above to be notified of Hiking by the bay, part 2.
The total mileage for the two parts of this hike is about six miles.
Directions to Coyote Hills Regional Park:
Coyote Hills is at the west end of Patterson Ranch Road/Commerce Drive in Fremont. From I-880, take Highway 84 west, exit at Paseo Padre Parkway, turn right, and drive north about one mile. Turn left on Patterson Ranch Road. This is the park’s entrance road and will take you to the picnic areas and visitor center. Parking fees may apply. Directions from EBRPD website.
Trail map of Coyote Hills.