San Francisco, CA: Bayfront Park Loop - Backpacker

San Francisco, CA: Bayfront Park Loop

Escape to the lush green hills and pristine saltwater marshes of Bayfront Park on this 2.8-mile loop just minutes from the Bay Area suburbs.
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Starting from the parking lot on Marsh Road, head east on a wide, unnamed, gravel path. In the saltwater tidal pond to the south, look for the numerous species of water fowl--such as egrets, canvasbacks, grebes, avocets and shovelers--that call the park home. With the Bay Area serving as an important stopover on the migratory Pacific Flyway, the park flaunts nearly 180 species of birds, making it a birdwatcher's paradise.
Continuing on, follow the trail west as it meanders between salt ponds to the south and low-lying hills to the north. Keeping your eyes open for owl burrows on the side of the trail, turn left to head north at mile 0.6 before reaching a four-way intersection at mile 1. From here, catch tranquil panoramas of the adjacent Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Reserve, home to the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast.
From the junction, turn left to head toward the hilly heartland of the park. Then climb several mild switchbacks en-route to an elevated vantage point offering vistas of the Sausalito Canal, the greater Richardson Bay, and Bayfront's extensive trail system. From here, follow the path as it cuts inland and then south through grassy, tree-dotted meadows. At mile 2.5, climb another mild hill to return to the trailhead and complete the loop.
-Mapped by Dave Miller

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.5



Location: 37.4880791, -122.1771469

From the paved parking lot on Marsh Rd., head right on an unnamed gravel path. Bypassing the numerous side trails on the left, keep your eyes open for the abundance of water fowl in the park's ponds and tidal pools.


Location: 37.4878807, -122.1740799

Hang a left to follow the trail to the north while passing a colorful salt pond.


Location: 37.4894104, -122.1739807

Hang a right at the Y-junction. The trail here serves as a dividing-line between the park's salt ponds and low, rolling hills. Look for owl burrows on the left side of the trail.


Location: 37.4894638, -122.1711884

Bear right at the Y-junction, observing the owl habitat mounds on the left side of the trail.


Location: 37.4944, -122.1681976

Continue straight at the Y-junction.


Location: 37.4959221, -122.1683121

Turn left at the Y-junction to catch serene panoramas of the marshlands and parts of the adjacent Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


Location: 37.4943504, -122.1745987

Take a left at the Y-junction before hanging a quick right and heading uphill. The narrow path traces several switchbacks while bringing you into the interior of the park.


Location: 37.493618, -122.1759186

Take a hard left at the four-way intersection. From this hilltop vantage point, catch a vista of the park's spider-like trail network and the San Francisco Bay to the north.


Location: 37.4935036, -122.1738586

At the five-way intersection, take the second left and head northeast on a wide gravel trail offering an elevated view of the marshlands to the east.


Location: 37.4946594, -122.1703186

Continue straight at the four-way intersection and look for raptors in the trees lining the path.


Location: 37.4932709, -122.1704178

Turn right at the Y-junction as the trail levels out. This open, flat area is frequented by kite-fliers on the weekends.


Location: 37.4923286, -122.1716919

Bear left at the Y-junction.


Location: 37.4913902, -122.1711578

Veer right at the Y-junction.


Location: 37.4900627, -122.1720963

Turn right at the Y-junction.


Location: 37.490139, -122.1740723

Head straight at the four-way intersection before hanging a quick left and Completing a short climb to return to the trailhead.

In Flight

Location: 37.4877853, -122.1767731

A birdwatcher's dreamland, Bayfront is home to nearly 180 species of birds.


Location: 37.4881897, -122.1739197

The trail bisects the hills and saltwater ponds.

Salt Marsh

Location: 37.4901276, -122.1676712

Hills of Bayfront Park

Location: 37.4893036, -122.1737442

Northern Shoveler

Location: 37.4880981, -122.1777954

Sunburst over the Marshland

Location: 37.4935036, -122.1702499

Interior Trail

Location: 37.4905548, -122.1715698

Westpoint Slough

Location: 37.496151, -122.1687775


Location: 37.4958572, -122.1718369

Open Lands

Location: 37.493515, -122.1734467

Hills and Trails

Location: 37.4931679, -122.1738739


Location: 37.4886398, -122.1779099

Male and female Northern Shovelers.

Main Intersection

Location: 37.4912758, -122.1713867


Location: 37.4955215, -122.1680527


Location: 37.4892693, -122.1714478

Burrowing Owl Home

Location: 37.4896164, -122.1692657

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