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San Mateo's busy Bayfront Path.

San Mateo's busy Bayfront Path A lively show of birds swooping and splash-diving into sloughs, a parade of walkers and cyclists, and an occasional water-skier darting along a lagoon are all part of an outing on the Bayfront Path. From Coyote Point in San Mateo, 3 miles south of San Francisco International Airport, the paved pathway runs south along San Francisco Bay to and through Foster City, offering great shoreside walking or biking.

Here we describe an easy and level 8-mile loop, mostly in foster City, made possible by the recent completion of new segments of the Bayfront Path. Except for a 7/10-mile stretch on a wide bike lane marked in the street (there's a sidewalk for those hoofing the trail), the route stays on the paved path (separated from auto traffic).

For nearly the whole way, the path borders water--either the bay or Foster City's tidal lagoons. You can stop to picnic in pocket parks, bird-watch at the Belmont Slugh Wildlife Refuge, or cast for sharks and rays from one of the bay's longer piers. Bring water and a lunch, and go early to avoid midafternoon winds.

Where to joint the route

An easy place to park is at the eastern terminus of Hillsdale Boulevard in Foster City, at the parking lot for the San Mateo Fishing Pier. The route runs right past the lot. The pier, created from the stub end of the old San Mateo bridge, stretches 4,135 feet into the south bay's main ship channel. This month, anglers will find this a good spot for sand and leopard sharks, kingfish, and sting rays (no fishing license is required for pier fishing). You can walk or ride to the end of the pier, though it's often very windy.

From the pier, head southeast on Bay-front Path. You'll pass small, rocky beaches on your left; on your right, parallel to the path, is Beach Park Boulevard, lined with houses and shopping centers. Soon you'll be alongside Belmont Slough; look in this quiet marsh for wading birds such as avocets, willets, and herons (stay on the path; no marsh entry allowed).

The path bends to the right and makes a long run west before meeting Marina Lagoon. It winds along the laggon shore, passing tidy townhouses and small boat docks, a couple of small parks, and a water-ski slalom course. It ducks under elevated Hillsdale Boulevard and State Highway 9i before ending at Shoal Drive. From here, follow risential San Mateo streets until you pick up the path's next segment. Turn right on Shoal and right again on Armada Way to Mariners Island Boulevard. Turn left and ride in the bike lane (or walk on the sidewalk) to street's end at E. Third Avenue, where you rejoin the path. At this point, you have a choice of two bayside routes; turn right to return in 1/2 mile to the pier parking lot, or, for an added 3 miles, turn left to ride to Coyote Point and back.

Take plenty of waterf we found no drinking fountains along the route. To reach the fishing pier parking lot, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Hillsdale Boulevard--Foster City exit and go east to Hillsdale's end. For a free map showing this and other City of San Mateo bikeways, write to the Department of Public Works, 330 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo 94403, or call (415) 377-3315.
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Date:Aug 1, 1990
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