Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline.

Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it.

Oakland has 19 miles of shoreline, bordering San Francisco Bay and related waterways. The shoreline used to be covered with salt marshes and shallow tidelands, but 20th century dredging and landfill for military, port, and commercial purposes largely decimated the fragile coastline ecosystem.

One of the East Bay’s most significant wetland restoration projects was completed in 1998, just beyond the northern border of Oakland International Airport. Now called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, this 741-acre park includes restored tidal and seasonal wetland that had been filled during the 1980s.

Within the confines of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline is the tidal Airport Channel, the southeastern end of San Leandro Bay, as well as Arrowhead Marsh and New Marsh, a large wetland that is still being restored. From anywhere in the park, you can enjoy broad views over the water to the Oakland Hills, Alameda, and the more distant downtown Oakland and San Francisco skylines.


Willets feeding in Arrowhead Marsh, San Leandro Bay, the southern tip of Alameda, and downtown Oakland, in the distance.

Today, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline is family-friendly. Visitors can hike, jog, walk dogs (leashes are required) or bicycle on the park’s trails. There are several locations where you can launch a canoe or kayak and fishing is permitted. Picnic facilities are provided at numerous locations along the trails, some can even be reserved in advance. An observation tower is available for viewing birds in Arrowhead Marsh. There’s also a boardwalk, but it is currently closed for safety reasons. The park also includes the Shoreline Center, a facility that can be reserved for weddings, parties or corporate events. For further details about the park, including a map and directions, please see:

Many of the area’s native plants have been restored and numerous species of birds have returned, to our mutual benefit.


Oakland California Temple and the Oakland Hills, beyond Arrowhead Marsh.

Now is a good time to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline since the fall bird migration is still in progress. My favorite area is the paved San Leandro Creek Trail West that runs between San Leandro Creek and New Marsh, then turns west, connecting with the paved Arrowhead Marsh Trail. This trail passes the bottom of Arrowhead Marsh, then turns south, along the edge of Airport Channel.

During a recent walk, I saw large flocks of beautiful shorebirds (e.g., willets, black-necked stilts) and small rafts of diving ducks (e.g., scoters, scaups, buffleheads), along with several egrets, herons, pelicans, and other birds. There were also several crew teams and individual rowers plying the calm waters.


Rowing in San Leandro Bay; Parroquia Santa Isabel & the Oakland Hills wreathed in cloud, from Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline.

While there is much more shoreline restoration needed in Oakland, Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline is an exciting and important step in the right direction.

Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

4 Responses to Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline.

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    • Eric Saltmarsh April 1, 2015 at 7:06 am #

      Thanks, Margaret and be careful what you ask for! I’ll be happy to go long on blog topics from time to time. Hopefully, not too long, though. FYI, we try to keep our blog entries to around 500 words since some of our readers prefer more condensed messages. However, there are some topics in which 500 words cannot do them justice, at least the way I write!

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