Looking to cool down? Head to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park

Looking to cool down? Head to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park
Bay Trail at the Albany Beach area of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. (Photos courtesy EBRPD)

SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY — If you are looking for a cool place on a hot summer day, one of the best is McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, which is operated on behalf of the state by the East Bay Regional Park District.

The park is a linear combination of parkland and trails that gives public access to San Francisco Bay’s eastern shoreline for 8.5 miles between the Bay Bridge and Richmond. It is named in honor of longtime environmental activist Sylvia McLaughlin, co-founder of Save the Bay, whose decades of efforts led to preservation of the shoreline in open space.

A good access is Albany Beach at the bay end of Buchanan Street in Albany. Amenities include a parking lot (though parking can be limited on weekends), a toilet, and a sand beach where you can swim. Swim at your own risk; there’s no lifeguard service.

Albany Bulb

You can also walk or bicycle out to the adjacent Albany Bulb, owned by the city of Albany. A former dumpsite, the Albany Bulb is notable for its ever-changing collection of artwork fashioned from old construction rubble and other refuse.

If you go to the bulb, watch your step. Off the wide dirt roads, the paths through the brush and rocks can be hazardous underfoot.

From Albany Beach, the paved multi-use San Francisco Bay Trail leads north towards Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond.

Heading south, the trail leads to Berkeley Meadow at the foot of University Avenue and on to the Emeryville Crescent just north of the Bay Bridge toll plaza.

Other attractions along the way are the Berkeley Yacht Harbor, Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park, the Emeryville Marina and Emeryville’s Shorebird Park.

The Brickyard site across University Avenue from the Meadow is currently closed for site stabilization and a vegetation management project.

Acting as agent for the state, East Bay Regional Park District used funds from the district’s 1988 Measure AA and state park bonds to acquire the Eastshore State Park property and clean up contaminated areas at a cost of more than $33 million. There are more improvements planned for the future.

For more information about McLaughlin Eastshore State Park and a downloadable map, visit www.ebparks.org. Click on “Parks & Trails” at the top of the home page.

Check before you go

Covid-19 update: generally speaking, regional park district campgrounds, picnic sites, swimming and some programs are open and available. But check first before you go. Go to the website, www.ebparks.org, and visit “Register and Reserve” for more information.

Remember, too, that regional parks can reach capacity quickly on summer weekends, especially parks that have swim beaches or pools. Some parks have to stop entries as soon as 11 a.m. So arrive early and avoid disappointment. Please be patient if entrance kiosks are extra busy.

And please keep an eye on your children at the swim areas. The lifeguards, while well trained, always appreciate your vigilance.

The district still encourages visitors to observe social distancing and have masks available to wear when you can’t distance, such as on narrow trails and at indoor or crowded venues.

REMINDER: Fireworks of any kind remain illegal in the East Bay Regional Parks. Moreover, the parks do not allow smoking, including vaping. Compliance is especially urgent this season, given the extreme fire danger due to months of hot, dry weather. With everyone’s cooperation, we can have a safe and fire-free summer season.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.

Ned MacKay