The Science of Sustainability

Science on the SPOT: Journey of the San Francisco Bay Trail

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A dedicated group of outdoor lovers and trail planners is working to build a 500-mile biking and hiking trail along the entire shoreline of San Francisco and San Pablo bays. 

The San Francisco Bay Trail project was started in the 1980s to build a "ring around the Bay." The project has been compared to the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in that it connects the communities along the way.  But the Bay Trail is unique because it circles a body of water and does so in a major metropolitan area.

Some 310 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail have been completed as of this summer, and it turns out that Richmond is the city with the most miles of trail so far: 30. It makes sense if you think that Richmond is the city with the longest shoreline in the Bay Area. The city has also been lucky enough to have a group of volunteers who in the late 1990s created the Trails for Richmond Action Committee with the goal to finish the Bay Trail in that city.  They have 11 miles left to go.

Our video takes you on a journey along several sections of the Bay Trail in Richmond. We start out bird-watching at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline, then ride to the wetlands north of Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline, and end up at the newest section of the Bay Trail, which circles a former landfill off the Richmond Parkway.

In our video, we wanted to somehow recreate the experience of watching the scenery change as you move along the Bay Trail.  So we asked Bay Trail project manager Laura Thompson to ride her bicycle as we interviewed her, and we came up with our own low-tech "dolly" so that we could film her as we rode alongside.  Check out the photos:

Want to recreate our journey? Find the locations on this map:

View Journey of the San Francisco Bay Trail in a larger map

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Category: Environment, Health

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About the Author ()

Gabriela Quirós is a TV Producer for KQED Science & Environment. She started her journalism career in 1993 as a newspaper reporter in Costa Rica, where she grew up. She won two national reporting awards there for series on C-sections and organic agriculture, and developed a life-long interest in health reporting. She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to study documentary filmmaking at the University of California-Berkeley, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies. She joined KQED as a TV producer when QUEST started in 2006 and has covered everything from Alzheimer’s to bee die-offs to dark energy. She has shared two regional Emmys, and four of her stories have been nominated for the award as well. Independent from her work on QUEST, she produced and directed the hour-long documentary Beautiful Sin for PBS, about the surprising story of how Costa Rica became the only country in the world to outlaw in-vitro fertilization.
  • Susan Gee Rumsey

    Thank you for this wonderful story! As a long-time Richmond resident and SF Bay Trail lover, I found it doubly thrilling. A couple of years ago, I walked the entire Bay Trail with my brother, both of us in our fifties then. Now that I am recently retired, I've set out to reprise our feat on my bike. So good to know I can do a good 10 percent of the completed trail without even having to leave my home town.

  • Michael J.

    I have a recumbent trike, and ride the BT often, with the segment out to Shipyard #3 and back my favorite. Thanks to the hardworking TRAC members. Love the Bay Trail!!

  • Elizabeth Marske

    How Fabulous, Laura Thompson! Thank you for sharing your project with all of us. While I can't use the trail everyday, I can share your story with my family and maybe they will be motivated to accomplish great community work in their careers.

    I wonder if your love of the outdoors started with a view across a pond?

  • Andre Trancoso

    Congratulations Laura! I try to use the trail every sunday, even when it rains! The story you shared is amazing and i like the low-tech "dolly" approach, talk about being creative!

  • Johnson81508

    Has the trail made it down into the Fremont area?

  • lisa

    Great job on the trail! And after doing 4 "pieces" Richmond still takes the cake!