Ravenswood Ponds



Visit the Restoration

Bayfront Park, Menlo Park (Views, Trails)

Bayfront Park was built on the site of a former landfill. The landfill has been turned into natural-looking hills covered with grasses, bushes, and scattered eucalyptus and pine trees. A complex network of paths covers the hills. They range from old paved landfill roads, to new smooth gravel bikepaths, to narrow rugged footpaths. Surrounding the hills are salt ponds, salt marshes, and sloughs. Along the park road are several parking lots and a restroom.

Directions: To reach Bayfront Park, take the Marsh Road exit in Menlo Park from Hwy 101 and head towards the bay. At the end of the road, past Bayfront Expressway, is the entrance to Bayfront Park.

Dumbarton Bridge (Views, Fishing, and Trails)

The Dumbarton Bridge is part of Hwy 84. From the Peninsula, it can be reached by taking the Willow Road off-ramp from Hwy 101. Just before the bridge, an exit to the right leads to a parking lot along the side of the bridge and next to the salt ponds and marshes at Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Steps lead from the parking lot to the pedestrian/bikeway along the bridge. Coming from the north, the Bay Trail is a paved multi-use path that runs along Bayfront Expressway, turns and heads up along the north side of Hwy 84, then crosses over to the south side at the University Avenue intersection. The Bay Trail from the south has gaps around Ravenswood Open Space Preserve in East Palo Alto, so it's necessary to take surface streets to reach the bridge.

Two fishing piers are just south of the bridge on either end. The Ravenswood Pier on the Peninsula and its counterpart on the East Bay, the Dumbarton Pier, are the remains of the original Dumbarton Bridge built in 1927 and converted to fishing piers in 1985. The old bridge was the first automobile crossing of the Bay. The center of the old bridge included a vertical lift section that was demolished and removed. The current bridge, which does not have a traffic-stopping lift span, was opened in 1984.

Just south of the bridge are the huge pipes of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, carrying water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite to Crystal Springs Reservoir west of San Carlos. The pipes appear from underground in Newark at the edge of a marsh, run for miles above the surface of the marsh, end at a pump station on the Fremont bayshore, dive under the Bay, resurface in the middle of the Bay at a building at the end of a long pier, then continue on the pier to the shore at Menlo Park.

Behind the aqueduct pipes runs the Southern Pacific's Dumbarton Cutoff train bridge. The cutoff was the first bridge across the Bay. It carried freight trains from 1910 to 1982. The swing span allowed boat traffic to pass through. Now it is permanently welded open. The bridge is currently closed, and its ends are fenced off, but it may someday carry commuter rail traffic.

Directions: To reach the bridge trail from the East Bay, take Hwy 84 west from I-880. Exit at Thornton Avenue. Turn left at Marshlands Road. Park at the visitor center parking lot for the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. Marshlands Road from here to the bridge may be closed to vehicle traffic during the summer to protect the snowy plover, but will be open to foot and bicycle traffic. Just before the road reaches the Dumbarton Pier, a ramp leads up to the bridge.

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (Views, Trails, Interpretive Displays)

Located near the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza in Fremont, the center is perched on a hillside above miles of salt marsh, tidal sloughs, mudflats, and salt ponds. Inside you will find wildlife exhibits, an observation deck, an auditorium, and a bookstore. Proceeds from the sale of books, posters and other educational items in the bookstore benefit the Refuge's educational programs. Outside, a self-guided trail will introduce you to the San Francisco Bay environment and local wildlife. The Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am until 5pm. It is closed on all national holidays. Please call 510-792-0222 for further information.

Directions: From Highway 84 (at the east end of the Dumbarton Bridge), exit at Thornton Avenue. Travel south on Thornton Avenue for 0.8 miles to the Refuge entrance on the right. Turn right into the Refuge and follow Marshlands Road to the stop sign. Turn left into the parking lot.