These pelicans are just some of the birds that call the Palo Alto Baylands Byxbee Park Hills their home.

The Palo Alto Baylands offers world-class bird watching from trails that snake through over 1900 acres of protected salt marshes and mud flats. This short 2.7-mile trail follows the marshy shoreline before winding through Palo Alto Baylands Byxbee Park Hills where walkers are treated to sweeping views of the bay. If you prefer a longer walk, check out the 7-mile Adobe Creek Trail.

This short walk offers visitors an easy, year-round escape into nature. When I visited one November afternoon, the sun had just moved behind the Byxbee Hills and the animals in the marsh seemed to jump into action. I stopped on one of the wooden observation decks to admire three pelicans that were swimming close to shore while bobbing their heads in-and-out of the water. As I stood there quietly observing, I heard a rustling in the trees and turned to see a hawk land less than 10 feet from where I was standing. Less than a minute later a jackrabbit darted between the bushes near the base of the observation platform.

In addition to the animals I saw, this area is also home to foxes, raccoons, skunks, and coyotes, in addition to more birds than I can count. If you want to learn more about this special ecosystem or about the birds who call this area home, join one of the guided nature walks. Ranger-led walks are offered year-round. Check the schedule online, or call 650-617-3156 to learn more.

The Trailhead:

Located near the public restrooms, the trailhead is easy to find. Head towards the bay and follow signs for the Adobe Creek Trail.

The Route:

Take the Adobe Creek Trail and make a right at the first signed junction and head toward the Renzel Wetlands. Follow the path you come to an unmarked “T” in the path, and take the trail to the right to head up the hill. The trails at the top of Byxbee hills wind around the park. You can take your time exploring and admiring the sweeping views of the bay from various vantage points as you work your way to the opposite end of the park. When you’re all walked out take one of the trails down the small hill and back to the parking lot.

Other details:

Parking: There are two small parking lots near the trailhead.

Fee: No fee

Restrooms: Flush toilets are available at the trailhead.

Hours: Open from 8am to sunset