On March 1 the Trail Trekkers, along with Citizens for East Shore Parks, led a walk around Point Isabel, El Cerrito’s little bit of coastline that isn’t actually in El Cerrito. About 20 people attended the event which was led by Patricia Jones of CESP and Tom Gehling of the Trekkers. Things got off to an informative start when Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia
addressed the group on the subject of wetlands and the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. This agency, for which Supervisor Gioia is part of the governing board, is “charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.” We would like to thank John for stopping by, even though he couldn’t stay for the whole walk.
We proceeded from the Isabel Street parking area east to the main course of the Bay Trail. There we made our first stop, in order to meet Tom and Jane Kelly who are leading a group of dedicated volunteers restoring natural vegetation along the edge of Hoffman Marsh. They meet on the 1st Saturday of each month and are always looking for new workers. Their events are listed on the TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee) website calendar of events.
This was billed as a high tide walk and nature didn’t disappoint. If you look at the photo of the two Toms, you can’t help but notice that Hoffman Marsh looks a whole lot more like Hoffman Bay. Ordinarily you would expect to see marshland filled with pickleweed, cord grass and other salt tolerant vegetation, with deep muddy channels for branches of the creek that drains into Hoffman channel. But instead we saw open water from the Bay Trail to Highway 580. This wasn’t a King tide, but was very high just the same.
Moving on north and west, our next stop was at Baxter Creek. Many of you probably know Baxter Creek as it is at the Northern Gateway Park where the Ohlone Greenway meets San Pablo Ave.. but down by the bay it is much bigger and wider, especially at high tide. The wetlands here are not contiguous with Hoffman Marsh and go by the name Stege Marsh, but for this hike they were underwater too. Two bridges cross the creek here, one as the beginning of a branch trail heading north towards Richmond’s Bayview overpass and the other on the Bay Trail itself. We stopped at the former, which in addition to its other charms offers beautiful views of the El Cerrito hills, and especially the Madera Open Space. Here Dave Weinstein, the President of the Trail Trekkers, gave a short pitch for The El Cerrito Open Space Campaign’s fundraising efforts. If you haven’t donated yet, please consider doing so soon.
Our final destination for that day was Meeker Slough Creek, which runs between the University of California Richmond Field Station and the Mission Bay neighborhood around the Richmond Marina. Here Patricia Jones of CESP filled us in on the current state of the proposed development of this area by the university and by the city of Richmond. More information can be found on the CESP website.
These are just highlights from the walk. To really get to know the area you need to see it at different times of day and at different water levels. The El Cerrito Trail Trekkers hope to do more hikes here, and are planning to visit it again on a bike ride in April. Whether your interest is exercise, panoramic views, wildlife and nature, or some combination of it all, the Bay Trail in southern Richmond, part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, has it all, and right on our doorstep.