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Adventures: Hiking or Biking the Bay View Loop
by Ann Marie Brown

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is a little park with a big heart, a place of tranquility not far from the urban bustle of the East Bay. Few visitors other than avid fishermen and dog walkers make the trek to the tip of Point Pinole, but it’s a worthwhile trip -- in addition to spectacular bay views and a fascinating history as the site of an old dynamite factory, the park offers more than 12 miles of winding dirt trails suitable for hiking or mountain biking.

Bay View Trail skirts the edge of Point Pinole’s peninsula and provides nonstop views of San Pablo Bay. To the southwest, plumes of gas and steam rise from Chevron’s oil refineries. To the west, Mount Tamalpais looms over Marin County. In the foreground are miles of open bay water, interrupted only by the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge and the East and West Brothers Islands. Duck blinds dot the shoreline. Shorebirds skitter about on the mud flats during low tide. Birdwatching is superlative.

Just under two miles from the start, the path curves around the tip of Point Pinole’s peninsula to reach its quarter-mile-long fishing pier. You can stroll to the pier’s end, then sit and sniff the salty air while you admire the views of Mount Diablo on your right and Mount Tamalpais on your left. Look back toward shore and note the rugged coastal bluffs rising 100 feet above the bay. Point Pinole is the only place on this side of San Pablo Bay with shoreline cliffs; elsewhere the water is surrounded by flatlands.

Finish out your loop via Marsh Trail and Cook’s Point Trail, passing a large salt marsh lined with pickleweed. The wide, gentle waters of San Pablo Bay remain constant, but because you now face eastward, your perspective on the Bay is completely different.

The Details
Length: 5-mile loop
Difficulty: Easy
Best Season: Year-round
Highlights: Bay views, birdwatching, few people
Map: A free park map is available at the entrance kiosk.
Trail Guide: 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area (Foghorn Outdoors)
Park Information: East Bay Regional Park District, (510) 237-6896, (510) 562-7275, or (510) 635-0135
Getting There: From Richmond BART, take AC bus #71 to the park entrance