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Gail Todd

Urban Outings: Bay Farm Island Canal Walk

Bay Farm Island, also called Harbor Bay, is part of the city of Alameda, once separated from it by an estuary. The estuary has been filled, and today Bay Farm Island is connected to the Oakland Airport. Before being developed, the community was mostly farmland for asparagus growers, often called Asparagus Island. Nearby oyster beds were harvested to supply San Francisco restaurants. In his youth, author Jack London gathered oysters from these beds.

Today the asparagus farms are long gone. Instead, a huge canal runs through Bay Farm Island, hugged by a wonderful multiuse path, offering exercise to walkers and bikers. The canal starts near the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal, jogs through Bay Farm Island and eventually returns to the bay.

Sweeping views
From the terminal, look across the bay to see views sweeping from the San Francisco skyline to San Bruno Mountain. To reach the canal walk, head northwest on Adelphian Road (with San Francisco Bay on your left). Just past Sweet Way you’ll come to a red brick crosswalk on Adelphian. Follow the crosswalk and you’ll see the canal.

Alongside the canal is a path with separate sections for walkers and bikers. As you stroll or bike, check out the many birds that make the canal their home: black-crowned night herons, great egrets and snowy egrets, coots, cormorants, and canvasback, bufflehead and mallard ducks. Across the water, many homes have canoes tied up at them. Lining the walk are delicate willow trees and benches. There is even a small sandy beach. You may hear planes overhead: You’re sharing Bay Farm Island with the Oakland Airport.

Lunch break
You will shortly come to Aughinbaugh Way. At the “Ped Xing” sign, look for the red brick crosswalk, which connects to the path on the other side of Aughinbaugh. The path eventually spills into the Harbor Bay Landing shopping center. A short distance to your left are sandwich shops.

After lunch, you can return the way you came. Or if you want to walk an additional couple of miles, pick up the trail behind the Safeway in back of the UPS store. You can continue along the canal back to the bay, crossing over to the other side of the canal at Robert Davey Jr. Drive. After returning to the bay, walk along Shoreline Park (water on your right) back to the Ferry Terminal.

Getting there
During weekday commute hours, you can take the Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry from San Francisco. Board at the Ferry Building and disembark at the Harbor Bay terminal, the start of the walk. As this is a commute service, the ferry does not run midday, weekends or holidays. Check the schedule at www.alamedaharborbayferry.com. By public transportation, take BART to the Fruitvale Station and then take the 50 AC Transit bus to the Harbor Bay ferry terminal.

By car from San Francisco, take the Bay Bridge to Highway 880 south. Take the High Street exit toward Alameda. Turn right onto High Street, then left onto Fernside Boulevard. Turn left onto the Bay Farm Island Bridge. Make a slight right onto Island Drive. Turn right onto Mecartney Road. Continue to Mecartney and Adelphian. The Ferry Terminal will be on your left.

Photo: MagicMediaProduction via Flickr

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