Visiting the Pond Complexes
Visit the Restoration
Interpretive Activities at Alviso Ponds
Audio Tour at Alviso
Environmental Education Center (Trails, Views, Interpretive Displays)
The Environmental Education Center at the southern end of San Francisco Bay is surrounded by uplands, marshes, salt ponds, and a freshwater tidal slough. The building, designed for education, contains two classrooms, an auditorium, and an enclosed observation tower. Trails and a new boardwalk through the seasonal wetland habitat make it easy to see and explore the natural wonders of the South Bay. The Environmental Education Center is open by reservation to school field trip groups Monday - Friday. It is generally open from 10am until 5pm on the weekends. Please call about weekend interpretive programs!! It is closed on all national holidays. Please call 408-262-5513 in advance to verify hours. The trails are open 7 days a week from Sunrise - Sunset. If the gates are locked please park and walk in to enjoy the trails.
Directions: From I-880 or Highway 101, exit on Highway 237 toward Alviso. Turn north onto Zanker Road. Continue on Zanker Road to the Environmental Education Center entrance road (a sharp right turn at Grand Blvd.) The distance from Hwy. 237 to the entrance road is 2.1 miles.
Disabled Access: It is the policy of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you have any questions concerning the refuge's programs, or if you need any accommodation to enable you to participate in the refuge's programs, please contact a public use staff person at the Visitor Center at 510-792-0222 or at the Environmental Education Center at 408-262-5513.
Interpretive Programs: Refuge naturalists and volunteers offer a wide variety of guided programs and walks, and other activities, although programs are on hold because of the pandemic. A collection of films and videos is also available for viewing in the auditorium. Call 510-792-0222 for program information, or pick up a schedule of events at the Visitor Center.
Trails: The Refuge is crisscrossed by miles of hiking trails. Our most popular trails include Tidelands Trail and Newark Slough Trail at the Visitor Center; New Chicago Marsh and Alviso Slough Trail at the Environmental Education Center. The Visitor Center trails connect to trails in Coyote Hills Regional Park. Trails are periodically closed due to levee maintenance. Check at the Visitor Center and Environmental Education Center for the latest trail information. All motor vehicles are prohibited on Refuge trails, to protect ecologically sensitive areas.
Note: The Mallard Slough Trail, closed during habitat enhancement construction, has reopened with altered alignments and distances.
Fishing: A public fishing pier is located at the end of Marshlands Road at the refuge headquarters in Fremont and is open year-round. Birds, particularly the threatened western snowy plover, occasionally nest along Marshlands Road from April 1 - August 31. If birds are found nesting along this road, Marashlands Road will close to protect them. A free shuttle service is offered on weekends during these months. Call the Refuge for closure information. Fish commonly caught are rays, leopards sharks, white sturgeon, striped bass, and shiner surfperch. Check the California State Fishing Regulations for restrictions.
Hunting: The Refuge offers sites for waterfowl hunting mid-October to mid-January. Check the California Waterfowl Regulations each season for opening and closing dates. All hunting areas are boat-access only, except for Ravenswood. Additional information is available in the Visitor Center. A special use permit for hunting is required.
Boating: Canoes and kayaks are recommended, since motorboats disturb wildlife. Many sloughs are empty of water at low tide. Please be aware of the tide schedule before you embark. If your boat becomes stuck in the mud, wait for the next high tide to float it free. Public launching ramps are located at Redwood City and near the Refuge Visitor Center. For more information, see the San Francisco Bay Water Trail's page on the Alviso Marina County Park boat launch, or Santa Clara County Parks' page on Alviso Marina County Park.
Shoreline at Mountain View Park (Trails, Views)
West of Stevens Creek near the Bay is Shoreline at Mountain View. Shoreline at Mountain View Park is a beautiful 700-acre park with a saltwater lake, golf course, rolling grassy hills, and bay trails. It's hard to believe it was built on mountains of trash. For 13 years, starting in 1968, 500 acres of the land near the bay was used here as a landfill for trash from the city of San Francisco. In 1983, Mountain View closed the dump and began turning it into a park. Here is a history of the park. Next to Shoreline Park are the towering tent peaks, the largest in the world, of the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The park's 50-acre lake is popular with wind surfers and small boaters. The strong bay winds make the park a favorite place for stunt kite flying. The park has 10 miles of trails, some paved, some dirt. Paved trails lead past the golf course, around the lake, and along the tidal marshes and salt ponds. Some trails lead northwest to Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve.
Directions: To reach Shoreline at Mountain View directly from the south, take Hwy 101 to the Shoreline Blvd. exit. Shoreline Blvd. leads directly into the main entrance of the park. From the north, take Hwy 101 south, exit at Amphitheatre Parkway, then turn left at Shoreline Blvd. to the park entrance. The start of the Shoreline Trail is near the Crittenden Lane Trailhead. Crittenden Lane is east off Shoreline Blvd. before the entrance to the park. The back side of the park can be reached by taking Hwy 101 to the San Antonio Avenue off-ramp and heading north. San Antonio turns right at Terminal Blvd. There is parking along Terminal Blvd. Trails lead into the west side of the park. The park can also be reached from the Bay Trail along East Bayshore Road from Palo Alto, or back along the Palo Alto Baylands Marsh trail.
Alviso Marina County Park (Trails)
This 18.9-acre bayside park provides opportunities for picnicking and birdwatching, as well as access to other public lands for seasonal hiking and mountain bicycling.
Directions: The Marina is located at the end of Hope Street, which can be reached by taking Lafayette Street north from Santa Clara or 1st Street northwest from San Jose. Lafayette turns into Gold Street. 1st Street turns into Taylor Street, which intersects Gold Street. Turn right onto Gold Street. Continue on Gold Street, which turns left and becomes Elizabeth Street. Elizabeth T's onto Hope Street. Turn right and go over the bridge to the Marina. From the Peninsula, take Hwy 101 to Hwy 237, get off at the Great America Parkway exit, turn left, then follow the road for a short distance until it hits Gold Street. Then turn left. From the East Bay, take 880 to 237 to the 1st Street exit. Turn right and follow 1st Street to Gold Street as above.