For years I’ve been looking forward to the day when my son would be big enough and able to conquer the Bay Bridge bike path alongside me. Luckily, with the addition of the new observation pier that runs alongside the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge, my 4-year old and I have found the perfect bike path to hone his cycling skills. The Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline in Oakland has been outfitted with a new path, parking lot, plenty of bathrooms, and an observation pier. Our mile-long bike rides have definitely helped to motivate my son to become a more independent biker, and before long, I am sure we’ll be biking the “bigger” Bay Bridge path together.
Getting to Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline
Address: 210 Burma Road, Oakland (point your GPS to the Interurban Electric Railway Bridge Yard Shop)
Directions: From Grand Ave, just before you enter the Bay Bridge, you’ll make a left onto Maritime Ave. Next, at the light, make a right onto Burma Road. You’ll drive for about a mile until you see signs for the John Sutter Regional Shoreline parking lot. There are plenty of signs to alert you.
Hours: The observation pier is open from 5 am until 10 pm
Parking Lot: There are about 100 parking spots and a brand-new bathroom adjacent to the lot. We’ve never seen more than a quarter of the lot filled with cars.
The Lowdown on Sutter Shoreline with a Little Kid
The Path: There is a flat, paved half-mile-long path (1-mile round trip) that leads to the observation pier from the parking lot. It’s perfect for toddler biking but also makes for a nice walk. It’s stroller-friendly too! There is a gravel path for non-wheeled pedestrians to use. The first third of a mile is part of the San Francisco Bay trail that leads to the Bay Bridge pedestrian path. After this, you’ll veer left through the yellow pylons and across the crosswalk, which will take you to the pier.
The Observation Pier: The pier is a spectacle in itself, 600 feet long and 40 feet wide. It was built upon six existing piles from the old Bay Bridge. The views of the S.F. skyline are breathtaking. The teacher in me really appreciates all of the educational signage along the pier that teaches about the history of the shoreline, port, and bridges. There are picnic tables for larger groups and plenty of additional benches. You can also go fishing if that’s your thing, but you’ll have to clean your catch elsewhere. It’s been relatively empty each time we’ve visited which has made our tag games on the pier extra fun.
Bathrooms: In addition to the bathrooms at the parking lot, there are porta-potties at the base of the Bay Bridge and more new bathrooms near the pier.
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Parents Should Know
No Bike Riding on the Pier! I’m not sure why, but bike riding isn’t allowed on the pier. There are plenty of bike racks just before the pier if you’d like to lock up your bikes.
Share the Road. For the first third of a mile, the bike path is shared with cyclists heading to and from the Bay Bridge bike path. It’s important to stay alert, as your speed is sure to be slower than theirs. However, each time we’ve biked on the path my son has received many friendly waves and shout-outs from the “bigger” bikers as they pass and cheer him on.
Pro Tips for Parents
Always with the Snacks: What better reward for biking half a mile than a bounty of snacks? It’s been our routine to enjoy our snacks on the picnic benches as we catch our breath and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Skating Rocks! One pandemic pastime I’ve picked up is roller skating. The last few times my son has biked the path I’ve skated alongside him. It’s a very skate-friendly path as well, and my skate speed has motivated him to bike a little faster. #winwin
Catch the Sunset. The observation pier is the perfect place to take in one of our beautiful Bay Area sunsets.
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The Bottom Line on Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline
The new path and pier that are a part of the Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline are perfect for toddler strolls and training rides. The mile-long round trip, with its breathtaking views and educational signage, is sure to be enjoyed by family members of all ages. We’ll be back.
[All photos by Nick Williams, all rights reserved]