Rediscover Palo Alto Baylands
January 16, 2019
If it’s one thing residents of the apartments in Palo Alto love, it’s the fact that the community’s location puts them so close to the wonders of the natural world. There are few examples of this that are clearer than the wonderful Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the expansive marshland located right on the beautiful San Francisco Bay:
“Bounded by Mountain View and East Palo Alto, the 1,940-acre Baylands Preserve is one of the largest tracts of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay. Fifteen miles of multi-use trails provide access to a unique mixture of tidal and fresh water habitats.”
Exploring this vast preserve is the dream of many an outdoor adventurer, and if you’ve got a mind to head down there yourself, keep reading. Today, we’re delivering you the ins and outs of this amazing bayside habitat and everything you need to know to enjoy yourself.
Exploring the Baylands
The Baylands are huge, and there’s a lot to explore within its bounds. One of the most popular activities however, is traversing the long stretches of trails that cover the preserve, of which there are fifteen miles to enjoy. You can view the full map of the trails here, but there are also a few specific routes that many bikers, hikers, and runners enjoy most, starting with the rather low-intensity Duck Pond Loop.
This particular route, as you might suspect, loops around the famous Duck Pond. Covering a distance of just under half-a-mile, it’s enough to provide a light amount of exercise and a leisurely tour of some of the park’s wildlife. If you’re looking for something more intense, however, you might instead want to try the short route of the Adobe Creek Loop. It provides some great views at sunrise and sunset, and at 2.8 miles, offers a bit more challenge than the shorter Duck Pond Loop.
For more dedicated trail tacklers, though, there are at least three routes coming in at five miles or more:
- Adobe Creek Loop (Long Route) — 5.3 miles
- Bayland Trail — 5 miles
- Baylands Park Loop — 6.7 miles
With each, you’ll be able to get some amazing views of the marshes and take some stunning landscape photos, if that’s your interest. With all the hiking routes, you’ll be pleased to know that you can bring your dog along for the trip — provided you keep them on leash — but you should be mindful of the fact that you can’t collect any plants or animals, and you should remain respectful of their natural habitat throughout your visit. Speaking of animal life, it’s another main draw of the Nature Preserve, and birds are among the top of the list. In the park you might spot any number of species, and Birdwatching Daily notes that hotspots like the Duck Pond provide a great array of diversity:
“The Duck Pond is famous for its wide variety of waterfowl and gulls and is a field-trip site for the observatory’s gull-ID workshops. SFBBO’s citizen-science volunteers have conducted research on American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, and other waterbirds that nest in the area.”
Those aren’t the only birds you’ll find as you roam the grounds, however, as a more complete listing includes species such as:
- The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
- Nutall’s Woodpecker
- The Downy Woodpecker
- The Burrowing Owl
- The Short-Eared Owl
- The Barn Owl
- The Belted Kingfisher
- The Rock Dove
- Mourning Doves
- The Sora
- The Virginia Rail
- The Ridgway Rail
- The Common Gallinule
- The American Coot
- The Turkey Culture
- The Ring-Necked Pheasant
Even this is a truncated list, however, and you’ll want to check out the iNaturalist Checklist entry on the Baylands Preserve to see all the species that have been observed in the area. The listing also includes reptilian and amphibian species such as the Sierran Tree Frog, Western Fence Lizard, and Gopher Snake.
Beyond the hiking and wildlife observation, the Baylands offer spaces for recreational activities like boating, wind surfing, canoeing, kayaking, and the like. There are even baseball and softball fields for use at the Baylands Athletic Center.
For those looking to learn more about nature on their visits to the Palo Alto Baylands, the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center offers the chance to talk with staff and educate yourself on the wonders of the park, as it offers some 130 classes and camps, and sees more than 80,000 visitors each year.
Anyone desiring to volunteer their time and help contribute to the goal of environmental preservation, the Baylands For Tomorrow organization is an excellent way to get involved. They perform all manner of community outreach, helping get the residents of the Bay Area to “care for the Palo Alto Baylands” while increasing “awareness about the uniqueness and importance of Baylands ecosystem by presenting educational seminars and promoting its preservation.” They’re all about inspiring youth to take individual action to help out nature — a worthy goal. Be sure to see what they’re up to and considering lending a hand in whatever way you can.
As for some of the history of the Baylands, they were named after John Fletcher Byxbee Jr. He was a City Engineer in Palo Alto during the early 20th Century. The fight for the preservation of the Baylands was led by Stanford Graduate Lucy Evans (after whom the interpretive center is named). Her work earned her the nickname Baylands Lucy, and her dedication to ecology is still memorialized to this day.
All-in-all, the Baylands represent one of the most fantastic nature preserves in the area, and are thought by many to be one of the best spots for birdwatching on the West Coast. The Baylands are here for you and your fellow Palo Alto residents to enjoy, so be sure to take a trip down there and reinvigorate your connection with the natural world.
The Wonders Are All Around at the Apartments in Palo Alto
There’s a good reason why communities like The Village Residences are so popular. Palo Alto is a fantastic place to live, and wonderful places to explore, like the Palo Alto Baylands, are all around. Sound like your kind of experience? Take your life to the next level, and see what the amazing apartments at The Village Residences can offer you today.