CA, Bodega Bay: Bird Walk Trail

Bird Walk is a mile-long loop trail through a revitalized 14-acre saltwater marsh at the mouth of Cheney Creek, where it empties into Bodega Harbor. This is one of Sonoma County’s prime spots for birdwatching; here and in the neighboring dune ponds, mudflats, freshwater marshes, and grasslands, you may see snowy egrets, northern harriers, northern pintails, and marbled godwits, to name just a few. The trail runs atop a levee circling two dredge disposal ponds that were built in 1980 to hold silt from the dredging of Bodega Bay. The vegetation along the levee has been restored to improve bird and wildlife habitat. Bird Walk connects to Doran Marsh Trail in Doran Beach Regional Park for an additional .8-mile hike.

Bird Walk
see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: Parking lot off Highway One
Length: 1-2 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Level
There are two gentle slopes: one from the parking lot to the trailhead and the other from the trail to Cheney Creek bridge.
Terrain: Firm


On a summer day mid-week, we mostly had this trail to ourselves. The coast was blanketed in a thick fog that muted the colors of the marsh and enhanced the colors of the birds, making them easier to spot. The brilliant white of the snowy egrets announced their presence amidst the orange pickleweed, and through an opening in some cypress trees we spotted a stately blue heron standing completely still, ready to pounce on any tasty bite that might appear within reach of its beak. 

Two paths lead from the parking lot to the loop trail, which sits some 25 feet above the lot on top of a levee: the first is very steep; the second, a switchbacked asphalt ramp a few feet beyond, is the easier option. Arriving atop the levee, you are greeted by a massive, grass-covered rock rising from the marsh. If you choose to circle clockwise around the loop, you’ll first pass a pumping station on your left—down a hill and set back from the trail, it’s unobtrusive, and you’ll likely be more focused on the vistas of Doran Park Marsh and Bodega Bay to the west. Within a few hundred feet you come to two spur trails; one travels down a gentle slope to a bridge that crosses Cheney Creek, where you can connect to the Doran Marsh Trail and extend your trip another .4 miles each way. The other, a hard-packed dirt trail that bisects the loop, is overgrown with grasses and quite bumpy, and doesn’t have the best views. Continue along the loop, stopping at strategically placed benches to enjoy the views and birdsong. For me, what started as a serene stroll quickly turned into a challenge to see how many different birds I could identify. 

Accessibility Details
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible ParkingYes
Off Highway One
Accessible RestroomYes
At parking lot 
Accessible Picnic TablesYes
Next to the parking lot on a grassy area; can hear traffic from nearby Highway One.

Additional Information
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Map: See here.
Fees: None
Dogs: On a leash, no longer than 6 feet

Avatar photo Bonnie Lewkowicz (59 Posts)

I has worked for more than 30 years advocating for, and educating about access to outdoor recreation and tourism for people with disabilities. I hold a degree in Recreation Therapy and was a travel agent specializing in accessible travel for many years. In this capacity, and now as Associate Director at Wheelchair Traveling, I consult with the travel industry about accessibility, conducts disability awareness trainings and writes about travel and outdoor recreation. I also authored a book titled, A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, about accessible trails and has produced several access guides to San Francisco. My most current project is a website of accessible trails along the entire California Coast ( My extensive experience as a wheelchair rider combined with her professional experience has provided me with in-depth knowledge about inclusive tourism and outdoor recreation.

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