Have you ever been to Drawbridge, California? I had no idea it existed until my husband suggested we take the kids there, and explore the area. Apparently his Mom took him there when we was a child!
Drawbridge is a ghost town. The only abandoned town within the boundaries of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was originally a little vacation spot where people enjoyed duck hunting. It also had a train station, which made it fairly easy to get to in the late 1800’s through the late 1970’s. As the salt industry changed the landscape of the Bay, the landscape of the town began to erode, causing the town to begin sinking into the Bay. This was the main reason the town was abandoned.
Drawbridge sits at the bottom of the Bay, adjacent to Milpitas, San Jose, and Fremont. It’s slightly hidden from view, until you hop on an Amtrak train which speeds by the town. Although there used to be tours of the town, which is how my husband visited it several decades ago, it is now fenced off; with plenty of “no trespassing” signs around the area.
We parked at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Jose. This area offered a flat hiking trail filled with wildlife, which has returned to the area after massive restoration efforts over the past few years to bring the Bay back to life when many of the salt flats were removed. It’s incredible to be able to see so many different types of birds, and plants, in the area; which used to be desolate when I was a child. It makes the long hike into Drawbridge both pretty and educational.
Initially I was excited about this hike. Since it was flat, I assumed it would be fairly relaxing and easy. Apparently I was wrong! While wearing a mask helps cut down on the bottom-of-the-bay smell, it did nothing to shorten the length of the hike. The trail looks easy, but the surface is hard, and it’s roughly an hour and a half down the trail to get to Drawbridge.
Our kids were fine for the first two hours of the hike, the last hour was a little tough on them, and on me. Keep in mind, if it’s ninety minutes to get from the parking lot to Drawbridge, it’s ninety minutes to get back. The three hour, round trip trek was tough on a hot summer day. Thankfully I packed snacks and water, so we were at least fueled and hydrated-just really tired!
I don’t recommend bringing small children on this hike. My kids are teenagers, so they could handle it with a little grumbling. I did see people biking, and one person on a scooter. Those are great alternatives to navigating the trail and making it easier. I highly recommend being prepared, and going out to see Drawbridge at least once in your lifetime if you live here in the Bay Area. If you don’t live around here, and you love ghost towns, check it out!
Drawbridge can be viewed from a lookout which has a bench and signs detailing the ghost town’s history. It’s a fun little part of our local history, and it’s interesting to see a ghost town!
Have you visited Drawbridge before? What did you think? Do you enjoy visiting ghost towns?
Thanks for stopping by!