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Alviso Marina County Park

Alviso Marina County Park is the gateway to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. You can picnic and launch your small boat in this 20-acre park along Alviso Slough, at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, but the big draw is the many miles of levee trails that wrap around adjacent salt ponds. It’s an ideal place for spotting migratory birds and numerous resident birds, including northern harrier hawks, killdeer, song sparrows, and great egrets. You can easily spend all day here if you explore trails in the adjacent Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The town of Alviso was once envisioned as the bustling boating and shipping port of San Jose, but that prospect was diminished by a series of events, including the completion of the railroad, the relocation of the state capital from San Jose to Sacramento, and winter flooding and muddy conditions. Sparsely populated today, the town is listed in the Santa Clara County National Register of Historic Places.

Trail/Pathway Details

Alviso Slough Trail

Trailhead: Parking lot

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Level except for a gentle slope at the trailheads

Terrain: Firm


From the parking lot I followed the concrete ramp down to an elevated wooden boardwalk that juts out into the marsh; traveling along it, I felt like a waterbird navigating through the tall, dry marsh plants. Back on the trail, I turned right and in a few hundred feet crossed the wetlands on a longer boardwalk. Both boardwalks have a wooden structure that looks like a doorway beckoning you to enter the wetlands (they can be locked and are used to prevent after-hours entry to the trails).

After crossing the boardwalk, I turned left to begin the loop trail that skirts the slough and surrounding salt ponds. The rustle of grasses and the sweet sound of song sparrows filled the air, interrupted only by occasional jet noise from San Jose Airport. Other resident birds were plentiful, including killdeer, western gull, and northern harrier. Interpretive panels about the wetlands, birds, and Alviso's history are scattered throughout. It was a hot, windless day, and occasionally a bad smell wafted through the air, but it was countered by the abundant fragrant fennel lining the trail.

There is no shade along the trail, and I turned back after less than a mile. Instead of returning via the long boardwalk, I passed it and continued on the loop trail to the next junction, where I turned right and then stopped at an observation deck. This route back to the parking lot has a gentle incline before you reach the picnic area.

Accessibility Details

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

Accessible Parking: Yes

At park entry. The boat launch lot has no designated accessible spaces.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Only restroom is by parking lot; none on the trail

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Located by the park entrance
Alviso Slough Trail
Alviso Slough Trail (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: Santa Clara County Parks
Address: 1195 Hope St.
Phone: (408) 355-2200
Hours: Park: 8 am to sunset. Trail: sunrise to sunset.
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
Allowed on the park's pathways and picnic areas but not on the trails, levees, and boardwalks.
Public Transportation: Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority
Useful Links: Trail map, San Francisco Bay Water Trail
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, May 24, 2014
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
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