Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To Blackie's Pasture - Oct. 13, '12

Walking Distance: 3.6 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 12 min. (4:35 - 6:47 p.m.)
Start and End Point: on street parking, along Strawberry Drive, Mill Valley, CA

My walk this afternoon took place late in the day along a primarily unimproved stretch of trail and paths along the Bay (shown as two double yellow lines on Bay Trail map), past homes and apartments, and the Richardson Bay Audobon Sanctuary and historic Lyford house, with nice views looking down toward the mouth of the Bay, and occasional glimpses of a distant San Francisco skyline.

Road/trail surfaces varied greatly, from narrow dirt paths to paved asphalt roadways, with a touch of sidewalk thrown in occasionally. Sadly, the tail end of today's walk took place in near darkness, so these dim photos of today's sights don't do these places justice.

In the 1800s, this area straddled two large Spanish land grants (made to William A. Richardson (who had married Maria Antonia Martinez), and John T. Reed (who married Ylaria Sanchez). Over time, the land was split into thousands of parcels, but there are still pockets of tree-covered, relatively undeveloped areas, which makes this area feel less urban than it is.

I started this walk by heading north along E. Strawberry Drive to a a hilly area that split traffic, and bore right. Soon after this, I made a right and headed downhill on Harbor Cove Way (Public Shore sign). I passed a gate to a school to the left, and made a right on path toward the small Harbor Cove Dock -- a great miniature picnic spot with a bench that, on a clear day like today, offered views of the distant San Francisco skyline.

From here, I hugged the shoreline and followed a packed dirt path that narrowed considerably in spots, and then became a slightly wider, paved asphalt path (the one stretch of improved trail shown as a solid red line on the Bay Trail map), with a few more benches, eventually emerging onto Greenwood Cove Drive, near The Cove Apartment Homes.

I continued to head north along Greenwood Cove Dr., and passed the historic Lyford house (originally located near Strawberry Point but now residing) at Richardson Bay Audobon Sanctuary property on the Bay side of the road. There was a wedding reception taking place on the grounds, so I wasn't able to hike the pretty oak woodland trail here. I was limited to taking a few pictures of the house, from a distance, on the walk back, when it was almost dark. I'll look forward to returning to walk this piece later.

Continuing along Greenwood Cove Dr. (which became Greenwood Beach Road), I passed some homes and the Tiburon Baptist Church on the left (up slight hill). I walked to the end of Greenwood Beach Road -- which dead-ended to car traffic, but where there was a small paved outlet path that cut through to the parking lot for Blackie's Pasture and Tiburon Linear Park.

Blackie was a local favorite, and a statue (and cross) commemorating the sway-backed horse is often adorned with various items of clothing, hats, or small children. This evening, Blackie was sporting a large red bandana around his neck.

On way back, I re-traced my route, passing my car, and continuing south, back to 414 E. Strawberry Drive, where I left off last time. I enjoyed a few glimpses of post-sunset color over the Bay, between a lace curtain or silhouetted tree branches, then turned around to return to the car.

Wildlife Sightings:
14 crows; 14 sea gulls; 1 Canada goose; 2 cormorants; 17 ducks; 2 snowy egrets; 3 brown pelicans; 2 doves; 13 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 hummingbird; 2 domestic cats; 2 unidentified brownish shorebirds

Strawberry Point - Sept. 28, '12

Walking Distance: 2.9 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 55 min. (4:00 - 5:55 p.m.)
Start and End Point: street parking on Great Circle Dr., near entrance to Brickyard Park, off Seminary Drive

Today's walk took place primarily on city streets (unimproved Bay Trail, shown as double yellow lines on Bay Trail map), as well as some sidewalks, and paved (asphalt) paths and sidewalks by the water (Harbor Point).

We started the walk by visiting Brickyard Park, off Great Circle Drive. I had visited this park also on my last walk. Brickyard Park offers great views of the Bay and, on a clear day views toward Sausalito and San Francisco skylines. We enjoyed a snack including a chocolate bar with figs, on a bench overlooking the water. A good place to feel grateful about life.

From Brickyard Park, we continued from Great Circle Drive, back to Seminary Drive, which soon turned into Strawberry Drive. Soon after this point, we turned right on Harbor Point Drive, and headed downhill, to Weatherly Drive, through a development, and toward the water, following signs to Public Shore access.

The signs led us to a stretch of nicely landscaped trail along the water that paralleled Egret Way to the north, and Heron Drive to the south. This stretch was depicted as a solid red line on the Bay Trail map. At the south end of this trail. There were several interesting birds to see, some enjoying the flowers and plants (hummingbirds, LBJs), some feeding by the shore (curlew, black oystercatchers, egrets), and some flyovers (sea gulls, crows, pelicans).

We walked as far south on this trail as possible, which included a short, packed dirt and unpaved area, to the end of Strawberry Point, and then walked as far north as possible to the other end, before walking back uphill to return to walking north on Strawberry Drive.

Still a great day to walk, even if the weather was a bit overcast and cooler than it had been the past few weeks; and it was getting darker sooner.

Thank you to Julie for joining me in today's walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
14 sea gulls; 2 turkey vultures; 13 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 brown pelicans; 16 crows/ravens; 20 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), 1 willet; 2 terns; 4 cormorants; 8 hummingbirds; 2 black oyster catchers; 106 coots; 3 great egrets, 1 snowy egret; 2 grebes; 2 tennis balls in bushes next to road/trail.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mill Valley - Sept. 18, '12

Walking Distance: 3 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 23 min. (11:42 a.m. - 1:05 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parking lot, near 600 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley, CA

Today's walk in southeast Mill Valley (Marin County), followed Seminary Drive (named after a seminary in the area) down one side of a small peninsula, northeast of Sausalito and west of Tiburon, that extended into the Bay east of Highway 101/Redwood Highway.

Shown on the Bay Trail map (right) as a solid red line, and then as a double yellow line (unimproved trail), the walk was on a mix of asphalt path and sidewalks initially, and then packed dirt path/shoulder along paved roads.

From the parking lot, I walked with a friend toward the marsh area almost hidden behind a commercial strip (gas station, car wash, McDonalds). We found the path behind McDonald's (where I'd left off previously) and made our way north to Seminary Drive. Heading right/east on Seminary Drive, we walked along sidewalks and some unpaved road shoulders, continuing to follow Seminary Drive, past some apartment buildings, and along a broad curve -- southwest and then northeast -- toward Strawberry Point (the tip of the peninsula).

Along the walk we had views looking back toward Sausalito and also of Mount Tamalpais (west-northwest of this area). This mountain, also known as Mt. Tam, is approximately 2,570 feet tall, and is visible from most of the Bay Trail in Marin County (and many other counties).

From Seminary Drive, we made a slight right (south) onto Great Circle Drive (a detour from the Bay Trail) and, after a short block, took another right (west) and walked down a short entrance road into Brickyard Park, a small waterfront park with trees, a small playground area, and a few picnic tables and benches. It was a little breezy, but we stopped and sat for awhile to look out over the water, before heading back along Seminary Drive.

Thank you to Sandy for joining me on this walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
13 snowy egrets, 1 great egret; 3 brown pelicans; 10 crows; 3 sea gulls; 8 Canada geese; 2 little unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 1 cormorant; 3 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 blue jays; 3 doves

Thursday, January 17, 2013

America's Cup - SF 2013

America's Cup and The Bay Trail
January 2013

People have asked me if they can view the 34th America's Cup (AC34) yacht races (Summer 2013) from the San Francisco Bay and Bay Trail. The answer is yes, and maybe. The races are expected to draw thousands of visitors, and walking and bike paths will be an important part of getting people there and limiting car congestion.

Construction has been underway for some time to get ready for this event, along the Embarcadero, Piers 15-17 (new home of the Exploratorium), and Fisherman's Wharf, and other areas near or including the Bay Trail -- including segments of refurbished Trail segments for bicyclists and pedestrians. I look forward to walking these segments when they're completed.

More on the America's Cup
The races take place in 3 stages. The earliest America's Cup World Series took place in August and October 2012.

The races in 2013 begin with the Louis Vuitton Challenge Cup (July 4 - Sept. 1), and culminate with the America's Cup Finals from Sept. 7 until as late as Sept. 23, 2013. For more information and final dates, check with the America's Cup website.  Also check the Port of San Francisco site and the San Francisco Bay Trail website (click on the Maps/Guides tab).

The Red Bull Youth America's Cup selection series of races will be coming up in February (with final races in September) 2013.

Where to Watch
Most of the action is happening in northeast San Francisco, and viewing areas may stretch from the Marina Green/Presidio area in the north, to several piers south of the Bay Bridge.

Note: odd numbered piers start at the San Francisco Ferry Building (located at the end of Market Street), and extend north. Even numbered piers start at the SF Ferry Building and increase in number further south.

Possible viewing areas on the Bay Trail: Crissy Field (Warming Hut), Marina, Fort Mason (Greens), Aquatic Park, Hyde St. Pier, Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and places along the Embarcadero that offer Bay views. (See also previous walk entries and places to eat page on this site for more places in San Francisco.) There are also small pocket parks, some benches, and pier areas where boats may be visible.

Boats may also be viewable (depending on weather, fog) from the Bay Trail in other areas: Northwest Alameda; Alcatraz Island; Angel Island; Fort Baker; Fort Point; the Golden Gate Bridge; and Treasure Island. Bring your binoculars.

Where to Stay
Many of the hotels will have been booked by now. However, there are some great alternative sites that may have units or rooms available in San Francisco. Or, why not stay on a houseboat in Sausalito? Sausalito is a waterfront community (on the Bay Trail) on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge; ferries travel between Sausalito and San Francisco, Tiburon, Angel Island, Alameda, and other destinations. (See my earlier entries on Sausalito to get a feel of the place.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mill Valley - Sept. 9, '12

Walking Distance: 2.8 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 4 min. (4:46 - 6:50 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parking lot, near Redwood Highway and Seminary Drive, Mill Valley, CA

Today's stretch, north of Sausalito, in Marin County, was accessible by car from busy Highway 101, north of Sausalito. I took the Seminary Drive exit off 101, and parked (on the southeast side of 101) near a pedestrian/bicycle overpass. At the foot of this overpass, on each side of the freeway, were Stop and Ride areas, with small parking lots.

Today's Bay Trail segment, shown as solid red, and short stretches of double yellow, lines on the Bay Trail map, was mostly paved (asphalt, with a few stretches of packed dirt), and included some stairs and hills (worth it given views of Mt. Tamalpais). I walked mostly on the Bay Trail, taking a few detours along areas with Public Shore signs.

After investigating the paved (asphalt) and packed dirt trail (behind the nearby car wash and McDonald's restaurant near Seminary Drive) -- I made my way to the overpass, heading northwest.

After crossing over the freeway, and a frontage road crosswalk, I was in a more tranquil area of light commercial and residential developments intermixed with scenic trails. I walked through, and around, the Shelter Point Business Park, via a Public Shore area.

From Shelter Point Business Park, I followed the trail to, heading right and along, Hamilton Drive to the intersection with Shelter Bay Avenue. I took a left turn on Shelter Bay (shown as double yellow lines on map), walked to the end, and then through the Sunrise Pointe development to the Public Shore area of walkway along Richardson Bay (red line along shore on map). Note: this area does not look particularly public friendly, but there is public access here.

From this shore area, instead of walking back up to Hamilton Drive, I detoured north, sticking to a trail closer to the shore, and took a series of packed dirt and board stairs uphill to a tree-shaded area, with nice views from a bench at the top and along the way, and then continued downhill toward Bayfront Park, where I'd ended a previous walk. (Bicyclers might find this route/detour with stairs more challenging.)

After a stretch, I came to, and crossed over, an arched wood bridge. A Mill Valley Parks plaque on this 2007 bridge indicated it was made from salvaged redwood -- a reminder of the giant trees that once blanketed the hillsides of nearby areas.

When I reached the Bayfront Park parking area, I turned around, but not before I stopped for a water break and looked around. This park was dedicated in 1984 and had signs and stickers that one might expect to find more often areas like Marin County, or perhaps Berkeley.

There were more messages that extolled a social good or cause ("May Peace Prevail on Earth," or "Adopt" underneath dog stencil art), or a mildly revolutionary scrawled sentiment, rather than gang tags one might find in rougher areas.

On the walk back, I admired berries growing in a large berry patch, and walked through Eucalyptus Knoll development (a detour) before heading down Hamilton Drive, and crossed back over to the southeast side of the freeway overpass.

DeSilva Island

Rather than return immediately to the car, I extended my walk, as there was still enough daylight to investigate the area around DeSilva Island Salt Marsh and community (detour from Bay Trail). There was a short public trail with tree shade that headed uphill through this development (also a few stairs here).

The views of the water below, visible between the trees, were nice. And, better yet, on a clear day like today, I could look south and see the San Francisco skyline beyond the boats in Sausalito, as well as Alcatraz Island, in the distance.

On the walk back to my car I enjoyed seeing egrets fishing in the marsh before sunset.

Wildlife Sightings:
34 crows/ravens; 4 snowy egrets, 2 great egrets; 18 little brown jobs (LBJs); 4 sea gulls; 1 Canada goose; 1 red ball; 8 pigeons

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sausalito Ferry Terminal, South - Sept. 8. '12

Walking Distance: 2.2 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 47 min. (includes dinner break) (6:35 - 9:22 p.m.)
Start and End: Street parking along Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA

This evening's walk, was part 3 of a 3-part adventure today, that started earlier in the afternoon with a seaplane ride, followed by a nice walk in Mill Valley and Bothin Marsh. On the drive south heading back home, I stopped in Sausalito, and walked this segment in south Sausalito, from Alexander Ave., (and the road that leads toward Fort Baker) to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.

Earlier this month, I'd skipped this stretch, shown as double yellow lines on the Bay Trail map. The double yellow lines, in this case, meant a nice stretch of cement sidewalks, but also some narrow, rather dangerous curved road on a hillside with mixed traffic (bicycles, cars and people).

As I usually do, I parked my car in the middle of the walk (near Tiffany Beach and Park) and made a loop, ending back at the car. This evening, I parked on Bridgeway (the main road running through Sausalito), and first walked south (the more challenging direction) while there were still some light left.

I followed Bridgeway, as it curved right and went uphill to Richardson, then turned left on 2nd Street (at Golden Gate Market). I made a left on South Street (or where the road curved left and became South Street) and watched carefully for traffic in both directions in spots where curves made it difficult to see traffic. Then, once I was on the straight-away, I made my way to the intersection of Alexander Ave. and East Road, where I'd stopped previously, enjoying views out on the Bay during this walk.

Views included looking across the mouth of Richardson Bay to the Tiburon peninsula, Belvedere, Angel Island, the San Francisco skyline and Alcatraz island in the distance. Overall, a very scenic walk. And all this scenery and watching for cars and bicycles zipping around corners made me hungry. So, I popped in to enjoy the dining scenery at Aurora Ristorante on the walk back through town. Thank you to the staff there for whipping up a gluten-free version of a great pasta dish. After dinner, and on the way back to the car, I made my way out onto a small spur trail/wooden boardwalk over the water -- where lights from houses on a hill were reflected on beautiful glassy water on the Bay.

I concluded my walk with a trip to downtown Sausalito to the Ferry Terminal. However, by that time, it was dark, most shops were closed, or were closing. Ferry runs had ended for the day, and it was very peaceful and quiet.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 rustle in the bushes; too dark to see anything else