Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA
This short hike will introduce your pack to the
marsh and hills of
Coyote Hills Regional Park and give you a chance to see a
great Visitor Center.
Head first into the marsh by crossing the park road at
the south end of the Visitor Center parking lot. The kids
will enjoy walking on the boardwalk. Stop at the wildlife
viewing platforms to observe water fowl and possibly
When the boardwalk ends, keep heading straight, gradually
curving to the left, until you reach the D.U.S.T. Trail.
Turn left on this trail, then right on Lizard Rock Trail.
You will then join Bayview Trail, a paved bicycling trail
which encircles the hills. Turn left on the Bayview Trail.
When you reach Nike Trail, follow it up to a saddle. Once on
the saddle, head south on the Hill Trail. After a short
steep climb, you'll reach Red Hill Top, a hill formed of red
chert. Watch out for poison oak among the rocks.
On a clear day, the views are great. You'll want to point
out some of the sights - the salt evaporation ponds to the
west, the marsh and boardwalk below you to the east (can you
see where you were?), and some of the high peaks in the Bay
Area. Some of these peaks are "Rim Rover" peaks which the
boys can climb when they become Boy Scouts - Mission Peak
just a little southeast, Mt. Tamalpais to the northwest
(beyond San Francisco), and Mt. Diablo to the northeast.
Continue south, stopping at Glider Hill to watch people
flying model gliders. Go slowly down the steep hill to
Soaproot Trail and go left, passing above Dairy Glen, the
group campsite. Turn left again, back to the Visitor Center
(you'll be approaching the Visitor Center from behind.)
Longer or shorter loops can easily be made - consult the
park map. The minimum requirement for this patch is to hike
to Red Hill Top.
Historical and Natural
Coyote Hills got its start at the bottom of the ocean.
Silica deposits on the ocean floor hardened into chert, the
hard red rock you'll find on the high peaks in the park.
Chert was highly valued by the Indians because it could be
fashioned into spear points and other tools. The other
common rock found in the park is volcanic greenstone which
also formed under the ocean. The greenstone is hardly
recognizable as a volcanic rock here, however, having become
crumbly and orange-colored due to extensive weathering.
These sea-floor rocks became folded and contorted as the
ocean floor drifted east and smashed into the North American
People often wonder by there is such a flat expanse of
land between Coyote Hills and the surrounding hills. The
block of land lying between the Hayward fault, at the base
of the hills to the east, and the San Andreas Fault to the
west, was at one time the same level as the hills of either
side, but stretched and sunk during the course of millions
of years of earthquakes. This lower-elevation land became
flooded by bay water or filled by stream deposits (Fremont
consists of sediment deposited by Alameda Creek), and only
the high points of this folded, contorted landscape are
still visible - Alcatraz, Angel Island, and Coyote Hills, to
name a few.
Coyote Hills is an important wildlife sanctuary. Its
marshes are part of the Pacific Flyway, an aerial highway
for migrating waterfowl and other birds. Deer are frequently
seen here, as well as raccoons, foxes, muskrats, and skunks.
Look for their tracks in muddy areas.
The Ohlone settled here over 2000 years ago, leaving a
substantial shellmound full of artifacts. More recently
Coyote Hills has seen a variety of uses, including a duck
hunting club and a NIKE missile base (you can get more
details about the history at the Visitor Center).
Salt evaporation ponds between the hills and the open bay
are refilled in August, when the bay waters are saltiest.
Over the course of five years, the water is pumped south
from one pond to the next, on its way to becoming a finished
product at the Cargill salt plant in Newark. The reddish
color is due to algae and bacteria which can survive the
salty conditions. The ponds attract a variety of birds.
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Ct.
P.O. Box 5381
Oakland, CA 94605-5369
(510)-635-0135 (general information)
(510)-636-1684 (group camping reservations)
(510)-795-9385 (Coyote Hills Visitor Center)
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Time: Allow 2-3 hours
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Grade: A few short but quite steep grades
Suggested age: Tigers through Webelos
Suggested season: Anytime, but fall, winter, and spring are
best for bird observation. Winter and spring usually have
the clearest air for views from the hill top. There are only
a few muddy spots in winter because the paths are either
paved or are mostly well-drained gravel.
AAA "Alameda-Contra Costa Counties," "Fremont Newark and
EBRPD folder "Coyote Hills Regional Park", available at the
park (usually), and at most EBRPD Visitor Centers and park
By Car: From Interstate 880 in Fremont, head west on Highway
84. Exit at Paseo Padre Parkway / Thornton Avenue (the last
exit before the Dumbarton Bridge). Drive north on Paseo
Padre about 1 mile; turn left onto Patterson Ranch Road, and
drive to the end. A parking fee of a few dollars is
sometimes collected at the entrance kiosk. Park at the
Picnic Areas (tables, grills, water, restrooms).
Reservable group campsites with picnic shelters and fire
Hiking and bicycling trails (paved and unpaved), boardwalks
through the marsh.
Ohlone Indian shellmound and reconstructed Indian structures
(accessible by reservation only).
Naturalist programs are available to the public, usually
Naturalist programs are available to groups by reservation
Remember money for parking fees.
Poison oak is abundant in the hills and among the willows
near the park entrance.
Bicyclists share the trails - supervise the children
Exercise caution when hiking downhill on the steep gravelly
Activity suggestions and other
No trip to Coyote Hills is complete without taking a little
time to explore the Visitor Center. Excellent exhibits in
the Visitor Center depict the Ohlone Indian culture and the
natural history of the Coyote Hills area. Several videos on
the Coyote Hills march and the Ohlone Indians are available
by request for viewing.
The group camping area, if unoccupied, has a large field
and fire pit which is great for lots of activities. Webelos
might consider camping overnight (be prepared for wind in
Discover Nature and Energy
Achievements: 7a, 8e, 10b, and Electives 13a, 13d, 18a, 18b,
Achievements: 5d, 10a, 12b, 12c, 12e, and Electives 11a,
11b, 12a, 12c, 12f, 23e.
Forester, Naturalist, Traveler, Family Member
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