Best trails in Benicia State Recreation Area, California

247 Reviews
Explore the most popular trails in Benicia State Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Description

The combined waters of fourteen tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers surge through the Carquinez Strait, past Benicia State Recreation Area, and west into San Pablo Bay on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Over the past 150 years, these waters have carried silt and clay from the hydraulic gold mines and timber logging sites of the Sierra and deposited the particles where fresh water meets salt water at Southampton Bay. The mudflat and marsh make up most of the recreation area, providing habitat for some unusual and endangered species. Benicia State Recreation Area covers 720 acres of marsh, grassy hillsides and rocky beaches along the narrowest portion of the Carquinez Strait. It is a day-use area that offers a quiet, breezy refuge from urban bustle and great views of the bay. Cyclists, runners, walkers, equestrians, and roller skaters enjoy the park's 2 miles of road and bike paths. Picnicking, bird watching and fishing are also attractions. The marshland area on Dillon's Point is a particularly favorite place for fishing. The climate is generally windy and cool year-round, with frequent fog. Temperatures range from 40 to 101 degrees, with average rainfall of 3 inches during winter months. The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended. Dogs must be on leashes at all times.

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Map of trails in Benicia State Recreation Area, California
Park information
Park hours
Monday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Tuesday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Wednesday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Thursday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Friday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Saturday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Sunday
8:00 am - 5:55 pm
Contact
707-648-1911
Helpful links
Top trails (6)
#1 - Benicia Marsh Loop Trail
Benicia State Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(93)
Length: 1.3 mi • Est. 34 m
Parking Fee: $6 (in cash), $5 for seniors 62+Show more
#2 - Benicia State Recreation Area to Carquinez Overlook
Benicia State Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(80)
Length: 8.7 mi • Est. 4 h
This is a wonderful coastal trail with several different options, paved and gravel trails. You can see beautiful views of the ocean and bridge from Dillon Point west to the Carquinez Bridge overlook. Please note that there is a parking fee at the Benicia State Recreation Area. Accessibility: Part of these trails on the east side are considered wheelchair and stroller accessible, such as along the paved Dillon Point Road and the first 0.3 miles of the Carniquez Strait Trail. The most accessible portions can be viewed on their own trail page here: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/sf-bay-trail-military-west-and-carquinez-strait-loop-accessibleShow more
#3 - Bay Area Ridge Trail: Vallejo-Benicia Waterfront East
Benicia State Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(30)
Length: 4.3 mi • Est. 1 h 44 m
This is where the Bay Area Ridge Trail splits and heads toward either the Carquinez Bridge or the Benicia-Martinez Bridge on the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail. The route on this page takes you towards the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Take a trip through Mexican and early California history on these routes, which follow the waterfront through the thriving towns of Vallejo and Benicia. Enjoy brisk breezes and occasional fog as you watch the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers funnel into San Francisco Bay. This route travels mostly level trails, including sidewalks, paved and unpaved trails, and footpaths. For more information, see the Bay Area Ridge Trail page here: https://ridgetrail.org/vallejo-benicia-waterfront/ This trail description is excerpted from the 2019 Guidebook. For details on all of the Bay Area Ridge trails, trailheads and more buy the book from Wilderness Press: https://www.wildernesspress.com/product.php?productid=16685&cat=274&bestseller=Y Accessibility: The most wheelchair and stroller friendly route follows along the State Park Waterfront Trail, the Benicia Marina, and roadside sidewalks. The trail is typically at least five feet wide (split into two lanes in the asphalt sections). The estimated grade is mostly gentle (5% or less), except for very steep (over 12% grade) sections at about the 2.4 and 3.1 miles when going southeast. The most accessible portion of this trail is the first 2.3 miles out from the trailhead. There may not be any designated wheelchair accessible car parking at the trailhead location. There are at least 2 designated wheelchair accessible car/van parking spots at the lot marked with a waypoint.Show more
#4 - Bay Area Ridge Trail: Vallejo-Benicia Waterfront West
Benicia State Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(15)
Length: 5.4 mi • Est. 2 h 11 m
This is where the Bay Area Ridge Trail splits and heads toward either the Carquinez Bridge or the Benicia-Martinez Bridge on the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail. The route on this page takes you west towards the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop trail. Take a trip through Mexican and early California history on these routes, which follow the waterfront through the thriving towns of Vallejo and Benicia. Enjoy brisk breezes and occasional fog as you watch the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers funnel into San Francisco Bay. This route travels mostly level trails, including sidewalks, paved and unpaved trails, and footpaths. For more information, see the Bay Area Ridge Trail page here: https://ridgetrail.org/vallejo-benicia-waterfront/ This trail description is excerpted from the 2019 Guidebook. For details on all of the Bay Area Ridge trails, trailheads and more buy the book from Wilderness Press: https://www.wildernesspress.com/product.php?productid=16685&cat=274&bestseller=Y Accessibility: Part of these trails are considered wheelchair/mobility equipment and stroller friendly, such as along the paved Dillon Point Road and the first 0.3 miles of the Carniquez Strait Trail. These gravel or paved segments are on the east side and can be viewed on their own trail page here, along with wheelchair-accessible parking information: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/sf-bay-trail-military-west-and-carquinez-strait-loop-accessible Also, there are paved sidewalks along Colombus Parkway that may be wheelchair and stroller friendly if you would like to extend the route north from the Benicia State Recreation Area.Show more
#5 - SF Bay Trail: Military West and Carquinez Strait Loop
Benicia State Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(21)
Length: 6.7 mi • Est. 2 h 41 m
According to Access Northern California (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=175): Benicia State Recreation Area is a 720-acre park that lies along the narrowest stretch of Carquinez Strait, and nearly 70 percent of the park is tidal marsh wetlands. Several miles of Bay Trail, some of it on a ridgetop, overlook grassy hills and marshes. In 3.5-acre Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden, set on a hillside, you can meander on hard-packed dirt paths around displays of native trees, perennials, shrubs, and grasses. Accessibility: There are designated accessible parking at a few locations - immediately past the entry station there is parallel parking in the gravel, the upper and lower lots 1.5 miles from the entrance and by Dillon Point have accessible spaces, and there are some in the lot by Military West Rd. There are a few different options for wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail routes from Benicia. At the eastern end of the park, an estimated mostly gentle (5% grade or less), paved 0.75-mile section of the Bay Trail travels alongside Military West Road past marshes with stands of willows and cattails. It is typically at least four feet wide. Another option is from the park’s entrance you can hike or drive 1.5 miles down paved Dillon Point Road (estimated 5% grade or less), which skirts a salt marsh in a sheltered cove of Southampton Bay, passing wooded picnic sites on the way to the road’s end at Dillon Point. For more of an off-road experience and great views of Southampton Cove, Benicia Bridge, and Mount Diablo, you can follow a two-mile, gravel section of the Bay Trail along the Carquinez Strait Trail. This 2.2-mile section of the Bay Trail was designed to be accessible, but erosion and overgrown grasses, which have narrowed the trail to less than 28 inches in places, now make it a challenging hike, especially for manual wheelchair users. It typically has an estimated moderately steep grade of 8% or less. At about 0.3 miles along the Carquinez Strait Trail, you can see the C&H sugar factory across Carquinez Strait and the Carquinez Bridge to the west. Immediately after turning inland, you come to another intersection. The steep dirt path to the right travels uphill to a spot with a 360-degree view. Some users have reported doing this section in a power wheelchair, but those with manual wheelchairs may find it challenging. At the next intersection, you can veer right to loop back to the start but this stretch travels downhill and has rough terrain and a steep cross-slope so it may be better as an out-and-back trail instead of a loop for some users. If you don’t take this loop and instead continue northwest for 0.75 miles along the peninsula, you can reach Glen Cove Waterfront Park, but the accessibility of that section has not been checked in person. There is a wheelchair-accessible portable toilet in the lot off Military West Road but the restrooms at the trailhead and end of Dillon Point Rd are partially accessible (the stall is too small to close the door, there's only room for a front transfer, and only the sides have grab bars). The most wheelchair-accessible picnic area is by the trailhead restroom...the others require travel over rough terrain to reach the tables.Show more
#6 - Bay Trail: Benicia State Recreation Area to White Slough Path
Benicia State Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(6)
Length: 13.7 mi • Est. 5 h 30 m
This is a segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail: a 500 mile long mile trail around the Bay. This is the 17th section of the Bay Trail, taking hikers from Benicia State Recreation Area to White Slough Path. A walk through the Benicia State Recreation Area offers a sense of the shoreline as it was in the time of the Karkin people. Open space and natural rhythms prevail here. A paved trail leaves the eastern parking lot (off Military West) then turns into a paved trail/road at the main entrance (fee). From here you can hike, ride, or drive to the Dillon Point parking lot. To reach the point-an especially good fishing area for sturgeon, striped bass, king salmon, and flounderwalk down to the shoreline from the parking lot and follow the gravel trail for a quarter-mile. About half a mile before you arrive at the Dillon Point parking lot, the Bay Trail route veers west on a dirt trail and leads to Glen Cove Waterfront Park, a tranquil shoreline retreat featuring both Bay and Ridge Trail segments as well as significant Native American history. A gap in the Bay Trail between Glen Cove Waterfront Park and Glen Cove Marina currently requires an on-street work-around. From the Park, use Whitesides, South Regatta, Glen Cove Pkwy, and Glen Cove Marina Road to access the Marina. Amazing views of the Carquinez Straight, the Carquinez Bridge and the C&H Sugar facility can be had from the bluff-top Bay Trail heading west from Glen Cove Marina. This segment is a natural surface trail with stairs and is not recommended for road cyclists. To reach the Carquinez Bridge and points west via road bike, use city streets. On the west side of the bridge is the California Maritime Academy where officers are trained for duty on U.S. merchant ships. The academy's 7,000-ton training ship, the Golden Bear, is occasionally open for group tours (contact the Academy for tour info). Heading up the Mare Island Strait is where you'll find Vallejo's active waterfront, with two miles of spectacular shoreline Bay Trail and a view of the former Mare Island Shipyard across the channel. To reach the White Slough Path, continue on Wilson Ave (no bike lanes or sidewalks) when the pathway ends. Curve under the freeway and over to Sacramento Street where the White Slough segment begins.Show more