Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Wheelchair accessible
Good for Kids

Overview

Rich in marshland and vegetation, this 376-acre preserve is comprised of two noncontiguous areas located south of the Dumbarton Bridge and adjacent to San Francisco Bay.

The larger southern area, located near Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto was funded by the Coastal Conservancy and made possible through a joint effort between San Mateo County and the District.

Bike Access Limited: Activities may not be designated on all trails within the Preserve-- always refer to the map and trail signage for where the activity is permitted. 

Gallery

Features

The larger southern area, located near Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto, provides public access, funded by the Coastal Conservancy and made possible through a joint effort between San Mateo County and the District.

  • A bicycle and pedestrian trail along the levee surrounding the marsh
  • Two wheelchair-accessible observation decks
  • The marsh attracts a variety of migrating birds including sandpipers, dowitchers, and avocets. Great blue herons, white pelicans, and egrets are also common.
  • Adjacent to breeding grounds for the largest concentration of endangered California clapper rail birds in the world.

Directions

To reach the southern portion of the Preserve:

  • Take the University Avenue exit (toward East Palo Alto) from Highway 101. (From southbound Highway 101, turn right on University Avenue. From northbound Highway 101, turn left on Donohoe Street, then turn right on University Avenue.)
  • Continue on University Avenue (north) for about 3 long blocks.
  • Turn right on Bay Road. Follow Bay Road to the very end, continuing through gate RW01 (about 1 mile total). Note: Bay Road narrows and becomes a dirt road. The Preserve parking area is on the left.

The northern portion of the Preserve lies adjacent to and south of the Dumbarton Bridge approach. Parking is available on the frontage road on the west side of the bridge.

Get driving directions:

 

Trails

There are approximately 1.5 miles of wheelchair accessible trail on levees at this bayfront preserve.

Overlook platforms and benches are destinations at both ends of this trail, offering a place for picnics, bird watching, or just enjoying the San Francisco Bay.

Ravenswood Trail - This out-and-back route will appeal to birders and is designated an "Easy Access Trail." The Trail and observation decks are accessible to visitors with wheelchairs or strollers. 

Trail Conditions

No trail conditions to report.

History

This Preserve takes its name from a town that once thrived on the shore of San Francisco Bay, near present-day East Palo Alto. In 1848, a 1,500-foot wharf was built here to access the relatively deep water. A few years later, a town was laid out with the hope it would become a shipping port for redwood lumber cut and milled in the nearby hills. Hopes that the Central Pacific Railroad would choose Ravenswood as a terminus for its line from Sacramento convinced Lester P. Cooley to buy a parcel of land that included the shipping wharf. Cooley's Landing, as it was then called, handled lumber, grain, and hay for a long while. The railroad ultimately went to San Jose instead, and Ravenswood also lost out to Redwood City, which became San Mateo County's most important port. After other failed attempts to revive the area, the wharf fell into disrepair, and the area was later used as a dump site for San Mateo County. 

Regulations

  • Hours: Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.
  • Dogs: Dogs are NOT allowed in this Preserve. For information on dog-friendly preserves visit the Dog Access page.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are required for all riders at all times. Please observe the 15-mph trail speed limit (5-mph when passing or approaching blind turns). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are NOT allowed in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For information on preserves open to horses visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Weapons: Weapons of any kind are prohibited on preserves. 
     
  • Plants and Animals: Please leave plants and animals undisturbed. This not only preserves the natural environment, but is also a safety precaution. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming wading, or engaging in any water-contact activity in any water areas of the District is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Overview

Rich in marshland and vegetation, this 376-acre preserve is comprised of two noncontiguous areas located south of the Dumbarton Bridge and adjacent to San Francisco Bay.

The larger southern area, located near Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto was funded by the Coastal Conservancy and made possible through a joint effort between San Mateo County and the District.

Bike Access Limited: Activities may not be designated on all trails within the Preserve-- always refer to the map and trail signage for where the activity is permitted. 

Photo Gallery

Features

The larger southern area, located near Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto, provides public access, funded by the Coastal Conservancy and made possible through a joint effort between San Mateo County and the District.

  • A bicycle and pedestrian trail along the levee surrounding the marsh
  • Two wheelchair-accessible observation decks
  • The marsh attracts a variety of migrating birds including sandpipers, dowitchers, and avocets. Great blue herons, white pelicans, and egrets are also common.
  • Adjacent to breeding grounds for the largest concentration of endangered California clapper rail birds in the world.

To reach the southern portion of the Preserve:

  • Take the University Avenue exit (toward East Palo Alto) from Highway 101. (From southbound Highway 101, turn right on University Avenue. From northbound Highway 101, turn left on Donohoe Street, then turn right on University Avenue.)
  • Continue on University Avenue (north) for about 3 long blocks.
  • Turn right on Bay Road. Follow Bay Road to the very end, continuing through gate RW01 (about 1 mile total). Note: Bay Road narrows and becomes a dirt road. The Preserve parking area is on the left.

The northern portion of the Preserve lies adjacent to and south of the Dumbarton Bridge approach. Parking is available on the frontage road on the west side of the bridge.

Get driving directions:

 

Trails

There are approximately 1.5 miles of wheelchair accessible trail on levees at this bayfront preserve.

Overlook platforms and benches are destinations at both ends of this trail, offering a place for picnics, bird watching, or just enjoying the San Francisco Bay.

Ravenswood Trail - This out-and-back route will appeal to birders and is designated an "Easy Access Trail." The Trail and observation decks are accessible to visitors with wheelchairs or strollers. 

Trail Conditions

No trail conditions to report.

This Preserve takes its name from a town that once thrived on the shore of San Francisco Bay, near present-day East Palo Alto. In 1848, a 1,500-foot wharf was built here to access the relatively deep water. A few years later, a town was laid out with the hope it would become a shipping port for redwood lumber cut and milled in the nearby hills. Hopes that the Central Pacific Railroad would choose Ravenswood as a terminus for its line from Sacramento convinced Lester P. Cooley to buy a parcel of land that included the shipping wharf. Cooley's Landing, as it was then called, handled lumber, grain, and hay for a long while. The railroad ultimately went to San Jose instead, and Ravenswood also lost out to Redwood City, which became San Mateo County's most important port. After other failed attempts to revive the area, the wharf fell into disrepair, and the area was later used as a dump site for San Mateo County. 

  • Hours: Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.
  • Dogs: Dogs are NOT allowed in this Preserve. For information on dog-friendly preserves visit the Dog Access page.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are required for all riders at all times. Please observe the 15-mph trail speed limit (5-mph when passing or approaching blind turns). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are NOT allowed in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For information on preserves open to horses visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Weapons: Weapons of any kind are prohibited on preserves. 
     
  • Plants and Animals: Please leave plants and animals undisturbed. This not only preserves the natural environment, but is also a safety precaution. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming wading, or engaging in any water-contact activity in any water areas of the District is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Download Preserve Map

Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Wheelchair accessible
Good for Kids

Hours

Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.

Preserve Activities

July 11, 2015