Closer to the water, Bicknell says, pickleweed and gum plants thrive in the salt water. Other plants mixed in with these are California sagebrush, coyote bushes and wild oats. Along the sides of the trail, Russian thistle grows, which when it dries up will uproot and turn into tumbleweeds.
Inside the marshes, northern and snowy egrets stomp around looking for food by dipping their orange or black beaks into the mud. Bicknell says animals, like rabbits, raccoons, opossums and foxes, create pathways through the brush to the marsh. Up in the sky, flocks of little brown sparrows dart in zigzags across the sky in search of food, while dragonflies hover around them.
The trail runs atop a levee that was created in the 1950s to contain the Palo Alto landfill, according to Bicknell. Originally, the path was for tractors and other vehicles that needed access to the landfill. However, with the landfill closed, the path opened to the public almost five months ago. Cutting through the middle of the Baylands area, the route connects to Byxbee Park trails and the Adobe Creek Trail. It is a great way to get from one side of the Baylands to the other and is frequently used by dog walkers and runners, Bicknell says.
During the Moonlight 5K Run & Walk, participants will enter this path, made up of compacted concrete rocks and gravel, from a paved road at the end of Embarcadero Way by the Regional Water Quality Control Plant, an entrance that is usually closed to the public.
Near the start of the gravel path is a hill known to be a popular hangout for a family of grey foxes, according to Bicknell. On the other side of the path is a saltwater marsh. This marsh has pipes connecting to the old Yacht Club dock in the bay. At high tide the salt water flows into the marsh and raises the water level slightly, though not enough to cover the different plants that call the marsh home.
Stretching out across the marsh is the ITT property, formerly owned by The International Telephone and Telegraph Company, which is currently eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places.
"The city recently took over the lease for this building," Bicknell said, "and we are waiting to see if it becomes a historic site and gets renovated; otherwise, it will most likely be torn down." This site has a long history, being built around 1920 by the Federal Telegraph Company, and playing a key role for decades in ship-to-shore communications along the West Coast.
Continuing down the Moonlight Run 5K path, the route connects with the Adobe Creek Trail. On this road, runners will zip past the Emily Renzel Wetlands, a manmade freshwater marsh that sits in the middle of the saltwater marshes.
The new Moonlight Run 5K path is filled with interesting sites to see and explore during the day. However, Bicknell warns, "This path will be extremely dark during the Moonlight run; runners should make sure to bring headlamps."
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