Bair Island Trail

If you’ve ever doubted the magical, restorative powers of nature, you owe Bair Island a visit. The majority of the Bair Island trail runs along Highway 101, but the bird watching is so spectacular that the freeway traffic fades into the background.

The easy, flat path begins at the access bridge near the Bair Island Marina. Take the bridge across the waterway and head to the right to a large raised platform viewing area. The Peninsula Open Space Trust and Save the Bay have been working hard to improve and preserve this fragile ecosystem. The tidal marsh zone is part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and is home to harbor seals, rays, leopard sharks, and a variety of birds including peregrine falcons and egrets.

After taking in the views from the platform, retrace your steps and follow the Bair Island trail past the entry bridge. The trail will curve and run parallel to Highway 101 before turning into the marsh and ending at the Middle Bair Island Observation Deck. As you walk, take time to watch the birds and keep an eye out for rabbits that can frequently be seen hopping amid the low brush.

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The Trailhead

After parking in the wildlife refuge parking lot follow Bair Island Road to the wildlife refuge access bridge.

The Route

This out-and-back walk consists of two parts. After crossing the access bridge, head to the right and visit the first observation platform before turning around and following the Bair Island trail past the entry bridge and to the second viewing platform. After reaching the second viewing platform (the Middle Bair Island Observation Deck) turn around and retrace your steps back to the entry bridge.

Other Details

Trail Safety

Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.

Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.

Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!

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