Point Isabel Dog Park is the largest off-leash dog park in the country. It is part of the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline Park and completes the trio of our standard, go-to, East Bay doggie romp spots which also include Oyster Point in San Leandro and the Albany Bulb near Berkeley.
The beauty of such a close proximity is that we have two great options depending on our mood on any particular day. Also, if we choose one and find it too crowded we then have another option close at hand. If need be we could even walk between the two if we were so inclined as it is under two miles, on foot, between the two spots.
The dog park can be accessed at either of two entrances. Both the Rydin St. and the Isabel St. entrances are both accessed after you take the Central Avenue exit off of Hwy 80 and head West. Pro Tip #1: Trust me, you really do not want to be anywhere near Hwy 80 or the MacArthur Maze during commute hours. Officially, those hours are from 6-10am and from 3-7pm and that is when the HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane is off-limits to all but those who are in a carpool (3+ people in the car) or drive the right kind of high(er) mileage vehicle and possess the correct State Issued sticker on that car. Traffic sucks so bad in the area though that my unofficial “Stay-the-hell-away-at-all-costs” hours are from before 11am and between 2-8pm. What this means is that the best time to go on a weekday is to get there at 11am and leave no later than 2pm at the latest. Don’t ask us how we know. The weekends are not much better and our happy time frames are still your best bet.
The Dog Park area itself is around 22 acres and features a wide-open dog park, trails, numerous water access points (there are signs up asking you to please don’t let your dog harass the wildlife during low tide) and sweeping views of the Bay. If you would rather take a walk, ride your bike or rollerblade or the like without your pooch there is a path in the area for those dog-free pursuits as well. Just so we’re clear – bikes are not allowed in the dog park area and dogs should not be allowed on the bike/rollerblade path.
There are no specific areas set aside for large or small dogs and everyone usually mixes and gets along fine. The only fences are there to keep dogs and people out of the USPS Bulk Mail Sorting Facility right next door, keep cyclists on the bike path separated from wandering, nose-to-the-ground dogs and to keep dogs and their humans out of the Avian Sanctuary at the East end of the park. Pt. Isabel has a few pluses over the Albany Bulb such as multiple restrooms and drinking water at two areas in the park. At the Isabel St. entrance there is also the aptly-named Sit & Stay cafe with an outdoor seating area and the Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub grooming business right next door. Bowls are provided for your dog to drink out of at both watering locations as well.
There are numerous poop bag dispensers at many points along the main paved trail to help make it easy for you to clean up after your pet and be a responsible dog caretaker. If you are so inclined there are also dozens of picnic tables throughout the area if you want to stop and rest or have a meal break. There are even a couple of picnic table areas with a small barbecue for your convenience.
Depending on if the tide is high or low you many find the channel between to two halves of the dog park either nice and full of water or mostly a deep, stinky mud pit. Pro Tip #2: If you arrive during a low tide I would recommend either not allowing your pooch to go down into that area and get covered in mud or, if it happens, make use of the hose-off area near the restrooms at the Rydin Avenue entrance. The area is also wide open to the San Francisco Bay so, depending on the weather, you may have to deal with some pretty gusty conditions. You, of course though, as a reader of this Adventure Log, know that famous saying and to always have your windbreaker handy. Repeat after me – “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
As an extra, added, bonus, there is a Costco wholesale warehouse right before the Isabel Street entrance to the park so if you happen to be a Costco member you can fill up on inexpensive gasoline (no diesel available) or get some bulk shopping done as well.
If you ever find yourself on Highway 80 in the Richmond, California area we cannot recommend highly enough that you take the Central Avenue exit and make your way to the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline and Dog Park. In fact, if you are anywhere in the East Bay area it is well worth the drive. It will be a romp to remember.