Although Tiburon was once a bustling San Francisco area railroad town, it’s been well over 40 years since locomotives rolled through the area. Today the tracks have been replaced by asphalt, and the former rail bed is now the site of the mostly accessible Tiburon Peninsula Historic Trail. This 2.5-mile rail trail runs from the Ferry Building in downtown Tiburon to the rural reaches of Blackie’s Pasture. Along the way it skirts Richardson Bay, and offers some scenic ocean snippets. And although the entire length of the trail is not wheelchair-accessible, there are a number of doable segments for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
From the Waterfront
From the Ferry Building it’s a straight shot through downtown to the end of the accessible section of the trail – a 1.8-mile trek one way. Just take a left and follow the sidewalk through the downtown area for about a half-mile. After the trail passes the Belvedere Tiburon Library, it moves away from the street and morphs into a wide asphalt trail, with interpretive plaques dotted along its length. The scenic trail winds through residential Belvedere, and later opens up and offers some intermittent ocean views.
The accessible section of the trail ends just past McKegney Field, where a steep downhill section blocks access for most wheelchair-users. Still it’s a nice out-and-back hike, with several places to stop and admire the view along the way.
It’s also easy to access the trail from The Lodge at Tiburon. There’s a crosswalk right in front of the lodge that connects with the downtown section of the trail. Just turn right after you cross the street and you’re good to go. This alternative cuts about .2 mile off the route, and you can always turn around if you can’t manage the whole distance.
Park and Walk
There are also several park and hike accessible options, located along Tiburon Boulevard. One option is to park at the Belvedere Tiburon Library on the corner of Tiburon Boulevard and Mar West Street. From there, just cross the street to connect to the trail. It’s a half-mile to the Ferry Building (left turn), and 1.3 miles to the end of the accessible section of the trail (right turn).
Just up the road near Lyford Drive, there’s also a small parking lot on the west side of Tiburon Boulevard. From the accessible parking space follow the short paved path to the trail. It’s about a .9 roll in either direction — to the Ferry Building or to the end of the accessible segment.
And finally, there’s a small street parking area up the road near Gilmartin Drive. This parking area is signed for accessible parking only, however there aren’t any stripes on the pavement. There is however ample room to parallel park an accessible vehicle and to deploy the ramp. From this access point it’s just a .3-mile stroll to end of the accessible trail, and 1.5 miles to the Ferry Building.
Blackie’s Pasture Trail
Alternatively, wheelchair-users and slow walkers can access part of the far end of the rail trail, as well as a short oceanside detour, at Blackie’s Pasture, just a few miles north of downtown. The well-marked parking lot, which is located off Tiburon Boulevard, features an accessible parking space with level access over to the wide asphalt trail.
The trail travels past the pasture, which was once home to a swayback horse named Blackie, and now includes a statue of the favorite equine who spent 28 years grazing there. And in the background you can see the white picket fence that surrounds Blackie’s final resting place. There’s also an accessible picnic table and a nearby accessible restroom located about .1-mile up the trail. The table offers an nice view of the pasture and Richardson Bay, and it’s the perfect spot for a pre- or post-hike repast.
The rail trail branches off the the left shortly past the restrooms; however that paved section is not doable for most wheelchair-users and slow walkers because of the steep uphill grade and uneven surface near the top. That said, a level section of a hard-packed dirt trail leads along the ocean and offers a very pleasant diversion.
This side trail also connects to the asphalt rail trail further along the way, but again it’s too steep for most wheelchair-users. On the other hand, the accessible section makes for a nice 1.4-mile round-trip hike; and if you’d like to sit back and take it the view, there are also a few benches along the route. It’s a pleasant little jaunt, but it can get muddy after a heavy rain, so plan accordingly. In the end, you just can’t beat the panoramic ocean views.