- Location: Sunnyvale Baylands County Park
- Date: Aug. 26, 2018
- Distance: Less than three miles
- Info: Santa Clara County Parks, City of Sunnyvale
- Fee: $6, but also $0
- RC aircraft: Four. Maybe five.
People don’t often associate California with “marshland.” But much of the south end of the South Bay is dedicated to preserving its wetlands.
For more than a week, smoke from forest fires have obscured my view of the Santa Cruz Mountains, so I decided to explore one of the parks that span the indeterminate reach between the water and area-appropriate ads on the 101. Sunnyvale Baylands Park is small — about 70 acres — though it connects to a larger network of area jogging tracks. The park is also flat and mostly paved; I didn’t bother wearing my boots. On this particular morning, it was also cool and overcast. 57°F when I arrived. 64°F when I left.
The entry fee is $6 per car, but I found the entrance booth empty. A sign on the window said they’d open “8am tomorrow.” No one stopped me as I drove in and parked.
There was no map. I didn’t need one. The park was small and open enough to let me see almost every highlight at a glance. There was an open green lawn where people were flying remote controlled airplanes. The Baylands Grove was off to the left. To the north was a raised walkway. I shrugged on my fleece jacked and headed that way.
Years ago, pickleweed was added to the seasonal wetlands as a habitat for the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. On this day I saw more squirrels than nocturnal mice, which were probably sleeping among the scrubby expanses of knee-high succulents.
The wooden walkway ended at an overlook of the (currently dry) wetlands, but I saw more than I expected. Buildings of glass and steel — bits of Silicon Valley — dotted the skyline. As I looked to the south, I spotted my day-job office, a stone’s throw from Levi’s Stadium. A drone buzzed overhead. Wild country, this was not.
Retracing my steps, I found a manicured grove that was dedicated in 1993. Soon after, I found a fenced-off area belonging to Animal Assisted Happiness, whose 1999-era HTML (yes, I’m that kind of geek) doesn’t stop children from getting a few bright moments in otherwise troubled lives. Or so the fliers posted on their fence say.
Also, I found a feather.
Some of the paths were paved. Others were not. Either way, it was all level.
Saltlands of the area are seasonally covered in water. But not this season.
Fun-looking area behind the fences of Animal Assisted Happiness.
For next time
Maybe come back at sunset on a less hazy day. Might make a pleasant stroll.