Best trails in McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, California

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

Beautiful bay views abound from this unique peninsula. The area once was home to dynamite manufacture and, more recently, a landfill. Some of the debris still shapes the landscape and is visible on a walk around the Bulb today. Over time, a salt marsh has grown near old lagoons, and the northern plateau is home to Burrowing owls and other native wildlife. The park includes tidelands and upland property along 8.5 miles of shoreline of the San Francisco Bay. The park extends from the City of Richmond in the north to Emeryville and Oakland in the south, ending near the east anchorage of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The tidelands comprise rich tidal marshes, sub tidal areas, and mudflats that extend bay ward from the shoreline including the Emeryville Crescent, Albany Mudflat, and Hoffman Marsh. Much of the existing upland area is the result of fill placement in the Bay west of the historic shoreline. The shoreline reflects the unique influences of both natural systems and human intervention.

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Map of trails in McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, California
Park information
Park hours
Monday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Tuesday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Wednesday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Thursday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Friday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Saturday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sunday
5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Contact
510-562-PARK
Helpful links
Top trails (4)
#1 - Berkeley Marina Loop Trail
McLaughlin Eastshore State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(123)
Length: 4.8 mi • Est. 1 h 59 m
According to Access Northern CA (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=185): When you visit this peninsular park and marina, it’s hard to believe that in the 1950s and ’60s the city of Berkeley operated a garbage dump here and was planning to extend the city 2 miles into the Bay by filling in 2,000 acres of water. Those efforts were thwarted by the Save the Bay movement, which started in 1961 and led to the creation of many parks and trails where development had been planned. Today there is only one obvious sign of its former use as a dump: a fenced-in chimney that vents methane gas from the still-decomposing stuff below. Now this urban wonder is home to a popular 3,000-foot recreational pier, a marina offering sailing and windsurfing classes, several restaurants, Shorebird and César Chávez parks, and several miles of trails. The western shore of the park is a great place to watch the sunset and view the Golden Gate Bridge. For young children there is Adventure Playground, a unique outdoor facility where kids can play and build things using found and recycled objects. Acrobatic kite flying is a common, year-round attraction at César Chávez Park, and for a truly dazzling sight, check out the Berkeley Kite Festival and West Coast Kite Championship, the largest kite-flying festival in the United States, held here every July. Shorebird Park Nature Center is housed in the first municipal straw bale building in the United States––the building itself is a display on green building. Inside you’ll find a 50-gallon saltwater tank, a 30-gallon freshwater tank, and displays on marine mammals and birds, including bones, shells, and skins. Also of interest in the area, a pedestrian bridge at Frontage Road West crosses Interstate 80 and takes you to Aquatic Park—and, farther on, to Berkeley’s upscale Fourth Street shopping district. At Aquatic Park Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program operates an adapted cycling program. Accessibility: Van-accessible parking spaces are plentiful throughout the area. The trails are paved and typically at least five feet wide. They are mostly flat with an average grade of 1% and a max grade of 4%. To go to Cesar Chavez Park, head east from the parking space on Spinnaker Way and take the ramp that climbs gently to the trail, then runs parallel to Spinnaker Way for a quarter-mile before turning north. The trail ends at the cul de sac, but if you want to continue another mile to the pier, cross Spinnaker Way and travel through the boat launch parking lot to connect to the trail at the water. West of the off-leash dog area, in the park’s center, a rough dirt trail leads to the highest point of another hill and a solar calendar. Those in manual wheelchairs may need assistance as on the other dirt trails that crisscross the hill. South of the pier, you can follow the trail in front of the parked cars, but it’s best to cross Seawall Drive and follow the walkway to the northeast corner of the large parking lot. Here you’ll find the entrance to Shorebird Park, a flat, grassy area sheltered by trees on the west and north, with picnic tables at water’s edge and a small inaccessible, rocky beach. Continuing east, the trail skirts the South Sailing Basin, passing the Cal Sailing Club and Cal Adventures. The public small-craft boat launch here has a very steep ramp. Neither the Cal Sailing Club nor Cal Adventures offer adapted boats but you can find some in San Francisco through the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors. Beyond the launch, the paved trail briefly turns north, then follows University Avenue to Frontage Road West. From here you have several options to extend your journey: continue south several miles on the paved Bay Trail to Emeryville, take the side path that leads to the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 80 and Aquatic Park, or cross to the north side of University Avenue to explore a small section of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park (an 8.5-mile shoreline park from the Bay Bridge to Richmond). Here dirt trails meander through Berkeley Meadow. There is an accessible restroom at Cesar Chavez Park and accessible portable toilets off Spinnaker Ave before the cul-de-sac and by the off-leash dog park. Accessible restrooms in the southern area of the park are by the marina office (closed from 5 PM to 4:30 AM), at the foot of the pier, and between the nature center and playground. There are accessible picnic tables at Shorebird Park and Cesar Chavez Park with firm and stable routes and surfaces, and at least 27 inches of knee clearance. The visitor center is wheelchair accessible.Show more
#2 - Albany Bulb
McLaughlin Eastshore State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(105)
Length: 1.9 mi • Est. 47 m
This trail should be attempted only at low tide or with the expectation of getting wet.Show more
#3 - Albany Neck and Bulb Loop
McLaughlin Eastshore State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(49)
Length: 1.7 mi • Est. 42 m
Please note that beyond the Albany Neck area, the Albany Bulb is not managed by the East Bay Regional Park District and the trails unmarked. They are worth exploring and easy to follow with a map or the app. The adjacent Albany Beach may be closed and under construction for much of this year. The route below features some of the sculpture art the park has to offer, as well as views of San Francisco and beyond. Trail Directions: From the parking lot, make a left to take the interior dirt and gravel path, not the paved path along the bay. Follow the path until you come to a large crossroads where four paths intersect, almost like a roundabout. Take a sharp right to follow the “Castle Trail” north. At the next fork, keep right. Continue straight until you reach a statue of a woman, then turn left. Follow the path along the water until the path makes a sharp right. Do not turn right; instead, take the steep path up the hill. Once up the hill, head left, then climb another small hill by a cypress tree. Continue straight to reconnect with the “Castle Trail.” Turn right and then keep left to stay on the wide trail. Head right at the next junction, then right again to take a trail around the southern edge of the Bulb. The trail will meander back to the main trail. At the junction with the main trail, make a right to return to the parking lot.Show more
#4 - Bay Trail: Albany Bulb to Shorebird Park
McLaughlin Eastshore State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(5)
Length: 2.7 mi • Est. 1 h 4 m
According to Access Northern California (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=214): The McLaughlin Eastshore State Park extends 8.5 miles along the East Bay shoreline from the Bay Bridge to Richmond. It includes 1,833 acres of uplands and tidelands along the waterfronts of Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, and Richmond. Reviewed here is the southern portion of the park which travels 3 miles from Shorebird Park in Emeryville to the Albany Bulb. ACCESSIBILITY: There is designated handicapped-accessible parking (van accessible) that is firm and level or with a slope no greater than 2% at the Albany Bulb at the foot of Buchanan St., one space at Pt. Emery, multiple spaces at the Tom Bates Sports Complex lot at the foot of Gilman St., and street parking along West Frontage Rd. in Emeryville. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms can be found at a portable unit at the northwest corner of the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex and at the foot of Gilman St. and at a vault toilet at the Albany Bulb. Accessible picnic tables with a firm and stable path and surface and at least 27 inches of knee clearance can be found at the foot of Gilman, the Albany Bulb, and at the viewing platform alongside the trail between Gilman & Buchanan Sts. At Aquatic Park you can rent an adapted bicycle from the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program. Check their website for details. This approximately 3-mile trail (one way) section of the Bay Trail within McLaughlin Eastshore State Park has several side trails where you can extend your trip. The surface is paved asphalt and typically at least four feet wide. The grade is mostly gentle with one steep section up to 10%. You may want to start at the north end and travel south because parking is easier there. The one downside is that the only two hills on the trail are at this end and come up pretty quickly. Just across from the Albany Bulb parking lot is a small beach with an accessible path onto part of it. It’s a great spot to watch all the beach activity. As you begin your journey along the shore there are expansive views of the Bay and Golden Gate fields is on your left. You quickly encounter the steepest part of the trail—the remainder is flat. When the dedicated trail ends at Gilman turn left and travel on the sidewalk about 50 feet to Frontage Rd., then turn right to reconnect to the Bay Trail that now parallels Frontage Rd. From here on you’ll hear traffic noise. After about a half-mile you can sidetrack into Berkeley Meadow and continue further towards the water to explore Cesar Chavez Park. If you don’t divert here, continue to University Ave. where, once you cross the road you can turn right towards the Bay to explore the Berkeley Marina, or a little further along Frontage Road looms the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 80 which will take you over to Aquatic Park. The remainder of the Bay Trail from University Ave. south to Emeryville, is a straight shot along the shoreline. There are two steep inclines near Golden Gate Fields Racetrack.Show more