New section of San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail approved

Those of us living in the Bay Area who love the outdoors have it made. Hikers, cyclists, equestrians and boaters enjoy a network of trails and routes just for us. Here in Benicia, they all converge.

The San Francisco Bay Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail, and now the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail run through Benicia, a city known for its 10 miles of scenic waterfront. The 500-mile Bay Trail loops around the bay through all nine Bay Area counties and 47 cities.

Cycle the local section, and you’ll cross the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to the east and wind your way through town along the Carquinez Strait – exploring East Fifth Street, First Street, Alvarez Ninth Street Park, and the Benicia State Recreation Area. Those continuing the loop will cross the Carquinez Bridge to the west.

Benicia, Ninth Street Playground_0The Bay Area Ridge Trail is currently 367 miles of trails open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians along ridgelines overlooking the bay. The plan is to create a continuous 550-mile loop.

Benicia’s latest “trail”

New to Benicia is the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail. The Water Trail board of directors approved the Benicia section during its September 16, 2016 meeting. A dedication at Benicia’s Alvarez Ninth Street Park Water Trail site (West Ninth and K streets) is scheduled for October 1 at 9 a.m. Representatives from Benicia and the Water Trail will unveil signage and provide details about this newest addition to the area’s recreational offerings.

October 1 is also the inaugural Bay Day, a time to gather and celebrate the bay. So after the dedication, Benicia Kite & Paddle Sports will provide free stand-up paddleboard sessions, and Benicia Outrigger Canoe Club will give free canoe rides (waiver required).

For cyclists, a ride on the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop, part of both the Bay and Ridge trails, will also follow the dedication ceremony (waiver required). The ride is open to the public, but will include roads with traffic, so it’s not appropriate for children.

WT Logo FinalThe Water Trail is an ongoing effort to link nine Bay Area counties with a network of launch and landing sites, or “trailheads.” It’s designed for human-powered boats and beach-able sail craft, which dovetails nicely with Benicia’s network of trails. Alvarez Ninth Street Park includes a public boat launch, three kayak/canoe put-ins, floating docks, a paved ramp, fishing pier, beach, playground and public restrooms.

Maureen Gaffney is a Bay Trail planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments who has been heavily involved in developing the Bay Trail in Benicia. ABAG is also working on the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail. “Benicia is one of only two cities that has the same alignment for the Ridge Trail and the Bay Trail,” she said. “And the Water Trail is a great addition that will make the shoreline even more accessible to people throughout the Bay Area.”

Gaffney said the San Francisco Bay Trail was founded in 1989, about the same time as the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail began in 2005.

We hope to see you Saturday morning, October 1 for the Water Trail dedication at Alvarez Ninth Street Park, and the fun events that follow!