Mare Island Walking Trails South


The Mare Island Preserve Scenic Vista Trail is located in the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve, 1595 Railroad Ave. on Mare Island in Vallejo, CA.  The Trail is the main access route on a paved road within the Preserve, located on the former Naval Ammunition Depot, the oldest in the Pacific, founded in 1857. It currently is accessible for hiking/walking, bicycling and electric wheelchairs, as well as vehicles displaying handicapped placards.

Features and Difficulty: The main trail has 14 interpretive panels along the 1-mile route to the hilltop vista point with an additional third of a mile walk to the western bluff of the Preserve through oak woodlands and along a protected and warmer “bench” overlooking San Pablo Bay and Mt. Tamalpais in the distance with the Western Magazine directly below. There are two bunkers to explore. The trail has a stop at the Navy’s oldest cemetery in the Pacific, founded in 1858, passes by bomb shelters, the former Ordnance Worker’s Housing, a historic garden at the ruins of the groundskeeper’s home, past a reservoir used for fire suppression at the ammo depot and to the hilltop with an art tribute to shipyard workers, geological marker placed in 1852 and a Coast Guard rescue communication tower.

A short non-paved out and back trail with great views of the East Bay Hills and the Carquinez Strait along the old road to the former lighthouse is to the southwest between interpretive posts number 5 and 6.

The trail is fairly flat as far as the cemetery. From that point a series of switchbacks leads to the 284 foot hilltop with panoramic vistas of San Pablo Bay, Mt. Diablo, the Carquinez Strait, the East Bay hills, Mt. Tamalpais and the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. It also offers a great perspective on the Mare Island Naval Shipyard to the north.

Wild neighbors: We often describe the Preserve as a place where “150 years of naval history has gone wild” and we also are fond of noting the “second nature” of the place. In other words, no matter how much the U.S. Navy worked to dominate and domesticate the wildness of the southern “original” island, wildness remains and is restoring on its own. That means we are home to various types of ticks, a healthy rattlesnake population and gopher snakes, too. There are tree frogs in the winter and blue-belly lizards in the summer. Bluffs are steep and drop off suddenly, so stay back and leaves are slippery. The road is crumbly in places. All part of an aging and intriguing place.

Poison oak abounds off the trail in some places and you will see the “scat” of coyote. Careful about meeting up with a skunk in the evening time. We are so new here, we don’t even know what we have inherited, so for all these reasons, we encourage you and your dogs to stay on the trail. The dog catcher has been out and ticketed for off-leash dogs, so let this be a reminder. We hope you will join us as good stewards of the wildlife habitat and the  trail.

amenities: The trail starts at Bob Palmer’s Hut near the only restroom on the property. Our Visitors Center is in a former bomb storage magazine in the field to the west of of the main trailhead. We welcome you to learn some about the Preserve’s history and natural and scenic features and grab a snack or cold or hot drink. On the 2nd Saturday of each month we have special programs here and in August come to our annual Mare Faire with exhibits, presentations and guided outings.

Directions: To reach the trailhead, drive to the south end of Railroad Ave. through the gates that are normally closed when the Preserve is and park on the left side of the road along the fence.

Facilities: We have a group picnic site next to the cemetery on the old tennis court. There is just one handicapped accessible restroom, so come prepared! Be ready to pack your garbage out, too.

For more information: call 707-249-9633

For emergencies on the trail: call 911

Photo albums coming soon

Coming soon

July 2006


May 2006


March 2006

Our favorite Island walks

  1.   San Pablo Bay Walking Trail

  2.   Mare Island Preserve Historic Southshore

  3.   more soon

  4. tell us about yours

Our favorite nearby trails


Shoreline Preserve Scenic Vista Trail