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Point Pinole Regional Shoreline

Within this 2,315-acre park, the largest on the northeast bay shore, you'll find a variety of habitats; meadows, marshlands, rocky beaches, while views of Mt.Tamalpais, the Marin shoreline, and San Pablo and San Francisco Bay stretch before you. Wildlife is abundant, over 100 species of bird can be found in two of the bay's remaining original salt marshes, sandy shores and eucalyptus groves. A map available at the entrance shows 12 miles of trails (at least five miles have some access) that crisscross the park. From the 1,250-foot fishing pier at the end of Pinole Point Road you can see remnants of the old pier that stretched for 900 feet into San Pablo Bay, and was once the busy shipping dock of Atlas Powder Company: Four different manufacturers produced two billion pounds of gunpowder and dynamite here from 1880 to 1960 and some trail names bear witness to the park's explosive past (Nitro, Angel Buggy, Packhouse). In summer most of its grassy areas are dry and it can be hot, but in winter and spring, it may be the best hike one can reach by public transit.

Trail/Pathway Details

Pinole Point Road

Trailhead: At parking lot

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

There are two steep stretches; one at the start where the trail climbs to a railroad overpass; the other near the trails end.

Terrain: Hard


Pinole Point Road (closed to automobile traffic) the main route through the center of the park, leads to the end of the point and fishing pier. It's the only paved trail and can be crowded with people walking their dogs, kids on bikes and fisherman heading to the pier. It starts from the parking lot with a climb over a railway overpass that may require assistance for a manual chair user, then runs almost level until it dips and climbs for a few hundred yards as it approaches the pier. Benches are available all along the way as well as pleasant picnic areas with moderately accessible tables and barbecues.

Cook's Point Trail

Trailhead: Start from the Giant Cluster picnic area. Sign says Giant Station trail

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

The unnamed spur that parallels the water may be narrow in places.

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

Only the first stretch, a few hundred feet, is slightly steeper than 1:12

Terrain: Moderately Firm

Surface is mostly hard gravel, but it may be uncomfortably rough, and at the end, some dirt stretches may get muddy after rain.


This nearly level trail is probably the best way to get away from the crowd at Point Pinole. During my mid-winter visit it was evident that it had been a wet winter by the lush emerald green carpet that blanketed the expansive meadow. Frogs could be heard but not seen. After nearly a mile in and out of eucalyptus woods, it reaches a pleasant narrow beach, which may be hard enough for some wheelchairs to cross. Except in wet weather, any wheelchair could travel the quarter mile or so of trail along the water's edge.

Owl Alley

Trailhead: Northern entrance; near picnic area by pier. Southern entrance; follow Giant Station to Cooks Point Trail, then Owl Alley.

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Firm

Gravel surface may be rough in places. Some patches may be impassable in wet weather. The spur trail to the pond has a steep cross slope.


We started at the southern entrance paying close attention to trail signage; it's easier to follow from the north entrance. Owl Alley Trail parallels Pinole Point Trail further inland offering views of San Pablo Bay and the hills beyond. Much of this trail has expansive views of the grasslands until you reach a eucalyptus grove where, from Dec. thru Feb. you might catch a glimpse of Monarch butterflies. A small fresh water pond lies down a spur trail at about the halfway point between the trail's north end and where it connects to Cook's Point Trail. It's a lovely private place to linger and listen to frogs. Just beyond the pond we were treated to an amusing show of goats busily munching the grasslands; they are brought in yearly to mow the grasses.

You can make an easy three to four mile loop when one combines it with Point Pinole Trail and Cook's Point Trail. Benches are provided.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible Parking: Yes

Located at the main entrance and at the foot of Atlas Rd. A park shuttle to the pier leaves daily (except Tues. & Wed.) from the main parking lot. It is not wheelchair lift-equipped; however, with advance notice you can follow the shuttle in your vehicle and park near the pier.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

The most accessible restrooms are by the northern shuttle stop, at the base of the pier, and at the Atlas Rd. parking lot. Portable units are at the Point Pinole trailhead, intersection of Cook's Point Trail and Owl Alley Trail, and at Palms and Giant Cluster picnic areas.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

One quarter mile from the parking area, and at the fishing pier.

Other Things of Interest

No fishing license is required to fish from the pier (1.5 miles from the parking area). Some benches on the pier have windbreaks, and are designed with space for wheelchairs. A wooden rail at 42" high, may obstruct views for wheelchair users.
Cove at the end of Cook\'s Point Trail
Cove at the end of Cook\'s Point Trail (Dan Hill)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: East Bay Regional Parks
Address: 5551 Giant Highway, Richmond
Nearest City: Richmond
Phone: (888) 327-2757
Hours: 5 am-10 pm unless otherwise posted
Fees: Parking
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: AC Transit
Useful Links: Bay Hiker review

Did You Know?

Bay View Trail travels directly above the San Andreas fault just before it heads under San Pablo Bay.

Reviewed by Ann Sieck, August 25, 2009
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing