multi-colored plants around a marsh

Ravenswood Preserve

Cooley Marsh (Erica Freeman)

Overview

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Hours
Open a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset. As a commuter route, the section of the San Francisco Bay Trail between University Ave. and Bay Rd. is open to through traffic from 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
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ravenswood logo illustration of a bridge over a marsh

Located in the wetlands of the San Francisco Bay, the 376-acre Ravenswood Open Space Preserve is a great location for birdwatching and family adventures. A flat, easy-access pedestrian and bicycle trail runs along the levee surrounding the marsh. 

The area attracts a variety of migrating birds including sandpipers, dowitchers, and avocets. Great blue herons, white pelicans, and egrets are also common. Marshland vegetation provides protected habitat for the endangered Ridgway’s rail and salt marsh harvest mouse.

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Hiking: All Trails
Hiking: All Trails
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Bicycling: All Trails
Bicycling: All Trails
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Equestrian: Not Permitted
Equestrian: Not Permitted
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Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
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Easy Access: All Trails
Easy Access: All Trails
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Camping: No Camping
Camping: No Camping
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Restrooms: Available
Restrooms: Available
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Restrooms: Not Available
Restrooms: Not Available
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Kid Friendly
Kid Friendly
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person riding a bike on a trail
Bay Trail at Ravenswood Preserve (Mike Kahn)

The new Ravenswood Bay Trail connection, which created a new trail segment between Ravenswood Open Space Preserve and University Avenue and linked over 80 miles of contiguous San Francisco Bay Trail, has been awarded the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s 2021 Bike Summit Project of the Year.

The award celebrates projects that promote biking and make biking safer. There was a strong field of nominated projects and Midpen is proud to share the award with Redwood City Slow Streets Pilot Program.

Preserve Highlights & Features

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two women birdwatching
Birdwatching at Ravenswood Preserve. Photo: Frances Freyberg

Overlook Platforms

Overlook platforms located at each end of the trail and along the boardwalk provide a great location for birdwatching or watching the tide roll away.

Stories from the Preserves

Midpen worked in conjunction with the City of East Palo Alto to renovate this bayshore property.

Nature

Here are some of the plants and animals that other visitors have observed at Ravenswood Preserve and recorded in iNaturalist. Protected species may be excluded and some species may not yet have been observed. Help improve iNaturalist by adding your observations to the Midpen Biodiversity Index project.

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Know Before You Go

Preserve regulations help provide a safe, enjoyable visit while protecting sensitive areas and wildlife.  

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YIELD. Bicycles yield to hikers and equestrians. HIkers yield to equestrians.

Share the Trail 

  • Use designated trails to avoid damage to natural resources and prevent injury. 

  • Avoid blocking the trail. Step aside to allow others to pass .  

  • Whether you’re walking or biking, always yield to equestrians. 

  • Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. Most preserves do not have trash cans. Littering is prohibited. 

  • Abuses of trail etiquette should be brought to the attention of a ranger or call the Midpen main office at 650-691-1200. 

Activities & Events

There are currently no events scheduled.

History

Ravenswood Preserve takes its name from a gold rush-era town that once thrived on the shore of San Francisco Bay, near present-day East Palo Alto. 

In the 1950s, the Leslie Salt Company turned the marsh into a salt production pond by surrounding it with levees to keep out the tides. Midpen purchased the property from the Leslie Salt Company in 1981 and opened Ravenswood Preserve to public access in 1989. Restoration of the marsh began in 2000, when Midpen broke open the old levees, allowing bay water to bring life back to the area.