Friday, June 17, 2005

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline

Today a hike at Point Pinole, a small park on the edge of San Pablo Bay with an odd industrial history: from 1881 to 1960 it was the site of explosives manufacturing, in particular dynamite production. Briefly considered as a site for NASA Mission Control—and how very different the East Bay would be with NASA operations here—and subsequently cleaned up as the site of a proposed steel plant, the narrow-gauge railroads sold off to Disneyland, it finally became part of the East Bay Regional Park District in 1971.

There’s still traces of the past: earthen embankments and rows of eucalyptus trees, intended to screen explosive blasts in case of accident (a frequent problem for the Giant Powder Company, who were forced to leave locations in San Francisco and Berkeley after major explosions); and the remains of piers and railway tracks used to transport materials and explosives.

On a hot day, it’s a good choice; lots of shade from the trees, and a cool breeze coming in off the bay. We walked a loop out to the pier and back. Out on Cook’s Point Trail, under the eucalyptus trees, and on Marsh Trail, home to hundreds of huge dragonflies. Out to the end of the pier, and back for a picnic looking out over the bay, watching the ferries go back and forth between Vallejo and San Francisco. And back on the Bay View Trail, which runs along the top of shallow cliffs. About 4½ miles.

Parking $5, but “only when kiosk is attended”, which seems to be only weekends and holidays. And careful with the driving directions: although you turn onto Richmond Parkway from I-80, the exit is signposted for San Rafael / Fitzgerald Drive.

Categories: Hiking