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Biking along Alameda Creek ... no cars, no mud.

Biking along Alameda Creek . . . no cars, no mud Simple things make a cyclist happy in early spring. A long bike path separated from traffic and not mucked up by rains can be a rare treat worth traveling to find. The Alameda Creek Regional Trail in Fremont, 20 miles south of Oakland, is a biker's delight this time of year.

The asphalt path, which winds along Alameda Creek, stays in shape even after rain. (The unpaved trail on the creek's north side is used by walkers and horseback riders.) The creek is active in this season, with water high and rushing in spots, and great blue herons further enliven the scene (we counted 10 on our most recent ride).

The 12-mile route runs west from Niles Canyon to San Francisco Bay near Coyote Hills Regional Park. It's easiest if you begin at the higher Niles Canyon end and ride slightly downhill to the bay.

You might wish to set up a car shuttle and leave one car at the bay end of the path, then begin your biking back at the 20-car parking lot off Old Canyon Road just east of State 84. (Or start from parking lots along the path, at Isherwood Way or Decoto Road off Paseo Padre Parkway, or at the end of Beard Road off Fremont Boulevard).

The trail winds and curves along the nowchanneled creek, passing back yards and paralleling city streets. Then you reach the grassy Alameda Creek Quarries recreation area; at Isherwood Way, leave the path to cross over the creek for a drink of water or a rest at the picnic tables.

After passing under Alvarado Boulevard, you ride by open fields, some lying fallow, others being prepared for spring planting. The trail runs level and fairly straight once you hit Coyote Hills park; from here, look for the graceful curve of long-legged Dumbarton Bridge and, on very clear days, the San Francisco skyline in the distance.

You can continue on the paved trail as it swings around to the south past the visitor center and out to the brackish marsh. Here pintails and ruddy ducks paddle among the tall reeds. A boardwalk lets you walk out over the marsh for a better look--bring your binoculars, and park your bike off the boardwalk.

Head out over the levees (unpaved but well graded) if you'd like to see concentrations of sandpipers and long-billed dowitchers picking over the mud flats.

You can picnic at tables near the visitor center (it's open 9 to 5 weekends) or at tables just south of the center, at the day-camp area.

The trail is free, and it's open dawn to dusk daily. Sundays are busiest, with families and groups on weekend outings.

Most riders prefer a morning ride, before westerly head winds pick up. As you cruise along, note the mileage markings for cyclists and runners--and keep to the right to avoid run-ins.
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Date:Mar 1, 1988
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