Bay Trail Walk at Old Air Base

dog leash

Back for another piece of the Bay Trail, we started in Novato at Reservoir Hill Vista Trail. It’s on Hamilton Parkway and next door to reborn buildings of the old Hamilton Air Force Base.
Reservoir Hill Trailhead

I thought we could do this hill. Some of the locals were taking the shortcut (seen in the two ruts), we took the switchbacks. Reservoir Hill has some beautiful oaks and on the bay side some coyote bushes.

Reservoir Hill up

Being one to stop and catch my breath, I took this picture looking back from where we came in a few switchbacks.

View back from Reservoir Hill

Because, this is what was ahead.

Paved uphill Hamilton

Around the curve of the hill was a gorgeous meadow with lupines and johnny jump-ups. Bright orange poppies shone in bunches. Blue-eyed grass hid out.

Reservoir Hill Meadow

The view, the other way, was of the airbase hangars, the San Pablo Bay and mountains in the distance.

View over ex-Hamilton airbase

At the vista part of Vista Trail is this view of the remnants of the reservoir and the wetlands that surround the bay.

View to exReservoir & wetlands

This view is to the north towards Bel Marin Keys. The path down was steep and gravelly. It flattens out near some houses. (Access here and limited parking, but we were glad for the views.)

View to Bel Marin Keys

At the bottom of the trail, there is a new perfectly flat packed sand trail that leads north (left) to Bel Marin Keys.

Path split Reservoir Hill to trail North

We went the other way. In a short distance, we had a choice of the sand trail or the gravel one. We took the one nearer the water.

Trail split heading south

Waterway to Bay

This new trail is still being improved. This looks like a future observation platform. Hopefully, with some benches. At this point, there are no benches. (Several on Reservoir Hill.)

New viewing platform

We could see plantings in this inhospitable looking land. Restoration of the wetland is underway.

New plantings

Where the last part of the currently completed trail turns, we had this look to what might be some more trail. Trucks were hauling dirt and bulldozers were pushing and lifting it around. The breach to the bay is to happen in April or May – now a few culverts bring bay water to the land.

More future trail

At the last turn in the path and where we turned around, we had this gorgeous view back to the famous Mt. Tamalpais. This mountain always grounds us in our movements around the bay.

View to Mt Tam

We noticed as we went by the airbase buildings that we could access a flat return route. So rather than going over Reservoir Hill again, we scooted over the wall and went through this parking lot. We’ll start between Hangars 5 and 7 next time. Many buildings are renovated with businesses and the public library – and some are currently under construction.

Hamilton ex-airtower

Past some Hamilton Villas (former barracks), we found Hamilton Parkway and our car.

Hamilton Villas

This section of the Bay Trail, needs to be explored again. Here’s more information for you.

Distance: As we did the walk, about 3 miles, up and over Reservoir Hill about 70 ft. You can walk more and new trails are being added, click Bay Trail.

Benches: Currently (may change) only on Reservoir Hill. No picnic tables.

Bathrooms: None. Make friends at the library or at one of the businesses.

Wheelchair: Accessible from ramp near Hangar 7.

Dogs: On leash.

History: For information from the National Parks, click Hamilton Base. Or from Wikipedia, Hamilton Air Force Base.

Current Day: City of Novato: Arts Center, pool, and of course the wetland restoration.

In any large wetland restoration project there are many to thank, Coastal Conservancy, Bay Trail, and Conservation Corps North Bay to name a few.

See you on the trail!

Words by Lynn Millar, photos by Lynn and Mike Millar


Lizard at Reservoir Hill


Walking more Bay Trail & the Napa River

dog leashLast week I did another walk with fellow-Walkabouters at the JFK Memorial Park along the Napa River. Tule Marsh used to dominate the area until the mid-1800s.  San Pablo Bay (off of San Francisco Bay) was 18,000 acres of tidal marsh. Some of that is being restored.

We chose to start our walk at the parking lot near the boat launch.

Napa River Boat launch Continue reading

Bay Trail & Napa River Walk

Last week we walked a new trail around a landfill in American Canyon. Sounds perfect, right?

Well, it was beautiful to be along the Napa River and have views of Sonoma Mountain, Mt Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo. The trail was new segment of the Bay Trail – that will someday go all around San Francisco Bay. As this area is being restored, the trails here go through a marsh and wetland area of the Napa River. (Click here for online map of Bay Trail.)

Bay Trail Napa River backwater Continue reading

Walking in Alman Marsh

Near the Petaluma River and Shollenberger Park is another place to walk – Alman Marsh. We recently accessed the trail from the parking lot of the Sheraton.

Trailhead Alman Marsh

Most of the trail is wide gravel and runs along the Petaluma River. An occasional bridge across a creek or boardwalk help make this an easy walk. Continue reading

Walking in Moss Landing etc.

Moss Landing, CA on the Monterey Bay is an eclectic little town. Part fishing village, part research center (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Moss Landing Marine Labs), part beach, part marina, part yummy restaurants and of course a few places to walk.

Moss Landing local artist

Continue reading

China Camp in Winter

I’ve come to love China Camp State Park for its sounds and sense of peace.

  • The rustle of beach-pebbles pushed gently by the waves of the San Francisco Bay.

China Camp Village pier

  • Footsteps on the boardwalk between the park museum and the brick oven (where shrimp were dried). Continue reading

Walking (or is it breakfast) in Suisun City

Seems that when we plan a trip to Sacramento, it now involves a stop in Suisun City for breakfast.

Suisun Slough

But a stroll along the waterfront or a more adventurous walk into the Suisun Marsh is possible. We did stroll, but due to plans in Sacramento on the same day, we only peered down the dirt path along Peytonia Slough. Continue reading

Thwarted Walking at Hudeman Slough

We hoped we’d found another flat walk in the low lands along the bay. Off of Hwy 121 south of Sonoma is Ramal Rd. and on an unmarked road is Hudeman Slough, a Regional Park boat launch. Technically, the address is 28020 Skaggs Island Rd. – we found it as the only road that wasn’t a  driveway or had private warnings and was headed to the bay.

Hudeman Slough Boat Launch

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Walking Between 2 Freeways and a Bay

What’s that? How do I get there? When?

These are the questions I ask myself when I see a flat place to walk. No place have I asked myself more often about than the spot I see when hurtling down Hwy 101 to San Francisco crossing Richardson Bay. Oh, the taunt of a tidal marsh trail with walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

Tidal Marsh on Richardson Bay

Continue reading