Walking the New Bay Bridge Span

i’ve lived in the bay area since 2000 (except two years abroad) and i remember when they started construction on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. it took over a decade of seeing truck after truck carrying Elgiloy 718 Inconel metal beams and wire, but they finally finished and opened to traffic a couple months ago. the new span includes bike and pedestrian lanes as well! as i rarely ever go to San Francisco proper (just the airport south of the city, via another bridge), i didn’t go on the new bridge until this past Friday when i met some friends in the city for dinner. driving on it reminded me that i could — and should — walk it, if only to see the abandoned old span.

getting there

local public television and radio station KQED posted a great set of directions. there are several access points to the trail; i chose the one off of Burma Road since it was the closest to the bridge itself (less walking!). the arrow below shows where i parked (click the map to go to KQED’s informative google map). just follow the path clockwise until it meets up with the main trail — make a U-turn and continue towards the bridge to the west.


I just typed in “Burma Road, Oakland” into Google Maps and that was good enough for navigation. There’s parking along the street; park as close as you can to the loop of the trail to minimize walking! (You have so much ahead!) There is a fence between the trail and Burma Road except at the loop and at the access point where the green pin is.

oh, psst — if you’re coming from 880 South, you’ll pass by the site of my first true urban exploration from over eight years ago, the abandoned train platform you see from the freeway.

practical matters

  • there are portapotties along the trail about where the toll plaza is. that’s your last chance to use the facilities; i recommend you do!
  • from the toll plaza, it’s 2.4 miles (says a sign) to the end of the trail, which is right before it hits Yerba Buena Island (they are estimating summer of 2015 for island access). there is a sign that says estimated round-trip walking time is 2 hours. that’s about right. i did it in 1 hour 50 minutes with mostly brisk walking and lots of stopping to take pictures. i’d say it was a total of 5.5 miles round trip from my car. (ugh, no wonder my legs are so tired!)
  • it was warmer and less windy than i expected (not windy at all). bring water.
  • there were more pedestrians than bicyclists when i went. it’s shared lanes until you get to the bridge itself, where it divides into a pedestrian lane on the outside and two bicycle lanes on the inside.
  • dogs on leashes are allowed.

pictures! (more on flickr)

this is less instawalk and more jumble-of-different-types-of-photos to give you an idea of what to expect.


The start of the trail with the toll plaza in the distance on the right.


This just about sums it up.


The end of the old span. (*sniff*) That’s a security truck, so no funny business, y’all! (The trail is also patrolled by cops on bikes, in case you’re wondering.)


There are call boxes and rest benches throughout. And yes, the call boxes do change from Alameda County to San Francisco County.

The old span

The old span.


Approaching the self-anchored suspension signature span. Old bridge on the left, Yerba Buena Island in the distance.


The SAS tower


The end of the trail! (Phew!)


New and old.

I am less afraid of falling into the bay than dropping my phone into the bay.

I do not miss commuting on this bridge. (Though I’ll miss the old span itself!)


More old span. I’m really liking VSCO Cam.


Another VSCO Cam-edited shot.

can you tell i was just as enamored (if not more so) with the abandoned old bridge than the new one? however, the driving experience on the new one is so much better, i must say — it’s so much more open and welcoming!

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