Palo Alto

Baylands Sailing Station

TRAILHEAD INFORMATION

Highlights

The Palo Alto Baylands Sailing Station is located within the 1,940‐acre Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. From the Preserve, boaters can explore the winding sloughs around the South Bay. In the afternoon the winds often pick up and the site becomes popular with windsurfers heading out into the open Bay.

Paddling in the Preserve offers opportunities to see a wide variety of shorebirds and terns. There are endangered species that live in and around the Preserve, so please keep a respectful distance from wildlife and do not enter narrow slough channels.

Boat Facilities

There is a boarding pier that leads via a gangway to a high-freeboard dock. Although the dock provides access to water at all tides, during low tides the main channel surrounded by mud or very shallow water. During extreme low tides, the dock is no longer level, and persons with disabilities may have difficulty reaching (or returning from) the dock due to the steep slope of the gangway.  It is advisable to return at least three hours before low tide.

 

Directions

From Highway 101 take the Embarcadero Road/Oregon Expressway exit. Turn east onto Embarcadero Road and follow the road into the Preserve until it ends at the boat launch.

The Palo Alto “E” shuttle bus comes to the very edge of the Preserve (the closest stop is a flat 1.25 ‐ mile walk away, at the intersection of Embarcadero Road and Geng Road). From this intersection there is easy to access trains and buses serving the entire Bay Area.

Parking

There is ample parking in a gravel lot with two accessible parking spaces located near the pier and two accessible parking spaces located near the accessible portable restroom. Parking is free with no limits during park hours. Park hours are from 8am to sunset daily.

Restrooms

One portable, unisex ADA-accessible restroom is located in the parking lot. Other restrooms are located throughout the Preserve.

Amenities

A boat washing facility and public phone are located near the pier. The Preserve within which the Sailing Station is located offers 15 miles of trails, picnic tables, BBQs, benches, an interpretive center (Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center), an Ecocenter, public art and wildlife viewing platforms.

Accessibility

The parking lot is a gravel lot. During extreme low tides, the dock is no longer level, and persons with disabilities may have difficulty reaching (or returning from) the dock due to the steep slope of the gangway.

Nearby Trails

Fifteen miles of multi‐use trails run through the Preserve, including portions of the Bay Trail.

Safety Tips

This area gets shallow during low tides. Check tide charts and plan to return to the dock at least three hours before low tide to avoid getting stuck in mud. The site can be very windy in the afternoon. Use a map if planning to explore the sloughs around the South Bay to avoid getting lost.

Seasonal hunting is allowed on nearby lands in Mountain View and Alviso. Check the websites listed on our Navigational Safety page for current hunting information.

Wildlife Tips

The site is an important stop‐over or destination for the Pacific Flyway and for resident birds. Please observe buffer distances, do not disturb wildlife, and do not land in unauthorized areas (it is not authorized to land in the Preserve or nearby lands owned by the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge – see map). Help protect the endangered Ridgway’s rail by not entering narrow channels during high tides.

Please maintain a buffer distance of 50 feet from Ridgway’s rail habitat, 820 feet from large groups of birds, 330 feet from a harbor seal haul-out August – February, and 500 feet from a harbor seal haul-out March – July (pupping season).

Other Tips

The City of Palo Alto provides seasonal Ranger-led canoeing programs – please check their website for more details. The Ecocenter also offers canoeing programs. Check their website for more details.

Trailhead Photos