Saturday, November 26, 2011


San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge - hiking the Tolay Creek Tubbs Island Trail

Biking and hiking in Sonoma County, California, USA.

JimH & I got an early start and headed out for some biking, hiking and birding at Tubbs Island in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The local tide chart said that low tide would be at 6:25 AM and high tide would be at 11:56 AM. Along the way we stopped at Skaggs Island Road (Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area) (A) and found lots of ducks and shorebirds feeding on the mud flats and in shallow water. The birds were quite far from the road, so it took binoculars to see anything interesting. There were no birds in sight at the Sonoma Creek vista point (B).

Road map, topographic map and satellite map - San Pablo Bay NWR.

• The tool on the left zooms in and out. Point on the red marker to see the name.
• Click and drag to reposition this interactive map. Map user instructions.
• Map=roads. Satellite=satellite map. Terrain=3D shaded topo map. Topo=topographic map.
Full-Screen Maps - San Pablo Bay NWR.

Coordinates - landmark.
N 38.15504 W 122.38104 - Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area. (A)
N 38.15629 W 122.40641 - Sonoma Creek vista point. (B)
N 38.15328 W 122.43617 - Tolay Ck Tubbs Island trailhead. (C)
N 38.12180 W 122.43370 - San Pablo Bay. (D)

Tolay Ck Tubbs Island trail

We planned to bike the Tolay Ck Tubbs Island trail and stop to observe birds along the way, but that was a total failure. A very small amount of rain the previous day left the trail muddy. The incredibly sticky mud totally clogged up our bikes in less than a mile, so we dragged the bikes back to the trailhead. On a dry day the bikes would be a great way to cruise this trail looking for birds, but don't even think about it if the trail is muddy.

Hiking the trail worked a little better, but we often had globs of mud sticking to our shoes. After a little bit of unintentional wandering off of the trail, we had lunch at the fork in the trail overlooking Tubbs Island Setback. By the time we got there it was high tide and there were not any birds in sight. Then we hiked down to the shore of the bay just for the satisfaction of saying that we made it all the way out there. On our way in we had talked to a guy who was hiking out and he had seen lots of birds earlier in the morning closer to low tide. Apparently the birds come out to feed in the mudflats at low tide, so if you go there wanting to see birds be sure to check the tide tables and plan your biking/hiking accordingly. I was surprised to see the last few foolish flowers still blooming on this cool day in late November. We also saw a few groups of fishermen who were hoping to catch some striped bass in Tolay Creek.

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

• More photos: 2011-11-25 San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

On the Way Home.

We stopped at La Michoacana Paleteria Y Pasteleria (504 Broadway St, Vallejo, CA) to get some pastries and champurrado. Then we had dinner at Betty Lou's Bar & Grill in Vacaville, CA. The daily special was savory chicken, tamales, tomato olive Feta cheese green salad and some really great Tempranillo wine. We had some walnut pie and decaf for dessert.

For more information:
Map to the Trailheads - Solano County hiking and biking.
Biking, Hiking & Camping Photos & Trip Reports - BRT Insights.
Canon PowerShot A490. Photos edited with IrfanView software.

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