From the Arrowhead Marsh parking lot, you have several options. You can make a loop around the fenced-in “New Marsh,” or you can walk down one bank of San Leandro Creek to a staging area at Hegenberger Road, then back along the other bank. The third option is to cross San Leandro Creek and head north, along the edge of San Leandro Bay.
As you turn north, the view opens up. Across the wide expanse of the bay, you see the city of Alameda, and, through the gap between it and the airport, Sutro Tower in San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpais in Marin. The paved trail that runs between some big-box office buildings and the shoreline is perfectly flat with gentle curves, and several children are using it to practice their bicycling skills. A 20-minute walk brings you to Garretson Point, named for an Oakland Tribune reporter who was one of the first to write about the need for wetlands restoration. Next to it are Damon Marsh, the Edgewater Wetland and the Zhone Wetland; if you keep following the trail past the Oakland Sports Complex, you will eventually hook up with the Bay Trail near the foot of High Street.
A half-dozen seagulls squabble with a turkey vulture for the same draft of air. Although a stand of ceanothus covered with blue blossoms promises an early spring, sharp winds and scudding clouds make the day too cold to walk all the way to Alameda, or to stand for long watching shorebirds. Back at Arrowhead Marsh, the trail is more protected, and a couple of birders stake out their position at the end of the viewing pier.
Getting There: Take Hegenberger Road east from Interstate 880; turn right on Doolittle Drive and right on Swan Way. The entrance to the park is immediately on your left. Go past the first two parking lots to the end of the access road; you’ll see the wooden view platform on the left.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: When you leave the park, turn left on Swan Way and right on Pardee Drive. On your right, at the corner of Hegenberger Road, is the ILWU Hall, a mid-century building topped with a soaring, space-age arch. The corner of the building is covered with a colorful mosaic that looks like the work of local artist Bennie Bufano.
More information: East Bay Regional Parks website.