Benicia: Southampton Bay Wetland-Dillon Point-Glen Cove Trail Hike

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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Benicia State Recreation Area covers marsh, grassy hillsides and rocky beaches along the narrowest portion of the Carquinez Strait. The tidal marsh where the rivers meet the bay, forms a unique habitat, home to rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The combined waters of fourteen tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers surge through the Carquinez Strait, past Benicia State Recreation Area, and west into San Pablo Bay on their way to the Pacific Ocean

Begin this hike at the end of W K St near the Military West entrance.

Head north on the Hike and Bike Trail. The park has 2.25 miles of paved road and bike paths. The Hike and Bike Trail, a dual-direction, paved, accessible trail—begins near the Military West entrance and runs 0.75 miles to the main park entrance, joining Dillon Point Road for 1.5 miles.*1

Turn left at the second information panel onto the Nature Trail. The flat trail winds through the wetland at the SE side of Benicia State Park.

Over the past 150 years, these waters have carried silt and clay from historic hydraulic gold mines and timber logging sites of the Sierra and deposited the particles where freshwater meets saltwater at Southampton Bay. The mudflat and marsh make up most of the recreation area, providing habitat for
some unusual and endangered species. The climate may be windy and cool year-round, with frequent fog. Summer temperatures may reach 101 degrees; in winter, average rainfall is 3 inches with temperatures dipping to 40 degrees *1 

Enjoy the beautiful expansive marshland at Southampton Bay Wetland Natural Preserve! Geology and Habitat: Nearly 70 percent of the parkland is tidal marsh wetland, ringed by grassy hills and open water. The Southampton mudflat formed by upriver silt and clay deposits is more than 1,000 feet thick. The principal habitats here are a brackish marsh, saltwater marsh, and freshwater marsh.*1

The Nature Trail turns eastward towards the paved Hike & Bike Trail.

Continue north on the paved trail towards the main park entrance.

The road name changes to Dillon Point Rd at the park pay station. Stay on Dillon Point Rd, it cuts across the marshland along the north edge of the park.

Dillon Point Rd turns southward as it continues along the west side of the Southampton Bay Wetland Preserve.

Enjoy the views!

Arrive at Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden for a quick walk-around.

Continue south on Dillon Point Rd to Dillon Point. The marshland area on Dillon’s Point is a particularly favorite place for fishing. 

The sandstone point at Benicia SRA has been known as Rocky Point, Quarry Point and now Dillon Point. Stonecutter Patrick Dillon came to California from Tipperary, Ireland, during the 1849 gold rush. He settled in Benicia in 1851. General Vallejo leased Dillon the tidal flat at Southampton Bay and Rocky Point
peninsula for a sandstone quarry.

Dillon eventually purchased the property; he built a brick kiln and began making red clay bricks. Sandstone and raw materials for the bricks were eventually exhausted. The Dillon family and subsequent owners tried sheep ranching and raising grapes until the State acquired the property for the Benicia State Recreation Area in 1967.*1

Enjoy the wonderful bay views!

Exit Dillon Point and make your way up the stairs to the parking lot area for the return onto Dillon Point Rd.

Continue on the Benicia Bay Trail for a scenic hike around the top of Dillon Point.

Enjoy the gorgeous views of Carquinez Strait, Franklin Ridge, Crockett and the Carquinez Bridge!

The trail winds around the point with beautiful panoramic views!

At the unsigned trail split, turn left onto the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It takes you westward into Vallejo towards Glen Cove.

Enjoy the grand views around Glen Cove!

The trail exits onto the paved SF Bay Trail to Glen Cove Waterfront Park.

The SF Bay Trail meanders through the park with scenic views of the surrounding parkland.

Follow the trail to the picnic area at the far west end of the park.

Continue on the unmarked trail along the fence, it leads you down along the rocky shoreline of Glen Cove.

Enjoy the glorious views!

The trail takes you to Glen Cove Marina.

Enjoy the views!

Turn around and retrace your steps along the shoreline to Glen Cove Waterfront Park.

Exit the park onto the Bay Area Ridge Trail, at the trail split, turn right followed by an immediate left to stay on the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

The trail drops you back down onto Dillon Point Rd.

Return on Dillon Point Rd to the Hike & Bike Trail and exit the park to W K St.

This is a fabulous easy hike around the beautiful mud flat and salt marsh wetland at Southampton Bay to the rocky shoreline at Dillon Point and Glen Cove. You’ll enjoy the spectacular panoramic views around Carquinez Strait and beyond!


9.44 Miles with 487′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 147′
Time:  4 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Easy
Parking: Military West entrance pay station parking lot or street parking on W K St. Water & Porta-potties available
Dog-friendly must be on a leash. *not allowed on marsh nature trails

Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the high 60’s to the high 70’s with SW winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Print Trail Map 


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