This quiet loop starts in downtown Hayward and winds through two canyons near CSU Hayward. The trail runs through a narrow greenbelt interlaced between residential neighborhoods, but it feels surprisingly remote, like a bit of the wilderness in the suburbs.
The main drawback of the loop is that there's only one possible route and no great views or other big payoff, so the hike can feel a bit constrained. On the other hand, the route is almost entirely wooded; in fact, it's the only fully- or even mostly-wooded hike in the Hayward area, making it a good option on hot summer days. Overall, this is a surprisingly enjoyable suburban park.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The trail starts at the Hayward Plunge, a popular indoor swimming pool built in the 1930s and part of Memorial Park. Memorial Park has a parking lot "for patrons only", but as a hiker you are, in fact, using the park, so I assume it's OK to park there.
Follow the wide paved trail past the entrance to the Plunge. The trail immediately enters the wooded canyon. At first the canyon is narrow and the trail is a wide, dusty, overused dirt road. Soon, though, the road turns into a singletrack trail; after the trail climbs over what looks like an old dam, the canyon becomes more attractive. The trail climbs insistently through nice if not spectacular bay laurel woods.
The trail emerges from the woods at Campus Drive, awkwardly squeezing by a church before crossing the road. After Campus Drive, the canyon becomes wider and more isolated. When the road forks, stay to the right.
Near the highest point of the loop, the trail breaks out of the woods, offering some views over the canyon. When the trail ends, turn right onto Durham Way and continue a few yards to Oakes Way, where the trail resumes.
The Ward Creek Road Trail descends steeply into a narrow, lush, and shady canyon. A few ferns grow alongside the trail. At Campus Drive, turn right and pick up the Wally Wickander Trail to return to the Plunge.
© 2014 David Baselt