Explore California: McLaughlin Eastshore State Park

Throughout much of the mid-1900s, the San Francisco Bay Area saw a rapid growth in population and industry. Specifically, the East Bay became a hub of manufacturing and commercial space as soldiers began returning from World War II and seeking new lines of work. Although this population boom brought further prosperity to the region, it also brought urban blight and waste that quickly accumulated faster than could be dealt with.

Locals began to take notice and organize around conservation of the eastern shore of the bay, where much of the waste was concentrated and being released into the water. Most notably, Sylvia McLaughlin founded Save the San Francisco Bay in 1961 after reading an article in the Oakland Tribune which predicted a dire fate for the Bay if reckless development continued. Save The San Francisco Bay focused on stopping the dumping of waste and targeted Santa Fe Railway, who owned the land in question at that point. This nonprofit eventually became Save The Bay, which we proudly partner with today.

For years, Santa Fe attempted several commercial construction projects on the stretch of land that is now McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, all of which were met with legal challenges and halted. Throughout much of the early 1990s, East Bay Regional Parks District was involved in purchasing pieces of the land from Santa Fe, and in 1998, East Bay Regional Park District finalized the acquisition of the land on which this unique park now stands. California State Parks and EBRPD co-managed the park until 2013, with EBRPD taking over in a 30 year agreement.

The park continues to be improved today. Although operated by the City of Albany, the Albany Bulb is connected to the state park and features artwork and a labyrinth. The park was one of many threatened with closure in 2009 when California State Parks Foundation stepped in, with the help of parks supporters around the state, to keep them open. McLaughlin Eastshore State Park has also been an Earth Day site for California State Parks Foundation since 2003 and we remain involved with work there, awarding the park with an Enrichment Grant in 2015 and 2016.

Things to do

  • The San Francisco Bay Trail winds its way across the entire length of the park as it traverses over 350 miles around the San Francisco Bay. It includes pedestrian and bicycle trails that provide a panoramic view of the Bay.

  • Take some time to visit one of the beaches along McLaughlin Eastshore and see why it’s a favorite spot among the many residents of the East Bay. The shoreline reflects the influences of both natural systems and human intervention, with natural features such as tidal marshes and beaches intermingled with man-made elements such as former municipal landfills.

  • You can also check out all of the native plants that grow throughout the park. Click here to find an helpful wild plan guide to help you on your adventure.