For those of us lucky enough to live and play in the rich Delta community, the options for us to go out and explore the wetlands are numerous. Yet, chances are good that as we get wrapped up in the day-to-day responsibilities of life, we do not always take advantage of nature’s beauty surrounding us. And located right in our own backyards is Big Break Regional Shoreline, which is part of the East Bay Parks District. And while you explore your local backroads, Big Break is a park that shouldn’t be overlooked.
What is Big Break
Big Break Regional Shoreline is a piece of the 1150 square-mile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers are the two greatest rivers in California and all drain into the largest estuarine environment on the Pacific coast. Big Break was once an asparagus farm, proving acres of the delicacy to communities. In 1928, a major break in the levee that separated the farm from the San Joaquin river broke, flooded the farm and completely submerged the territory, hence creating the current waterways of the Big Break regional park area.
Today, it is a small bay, also known as an estuary, that lies exactly where salty seawater meets with snowmelt and runoff from the Sierra Nevada. This mix of sweet and salty water creates what is known as the ‘edge effect’ and provides a habitat for animals and species that are designed for either fresh or saltwater environments.
The park is home to 70 species of birds and several species of mammals. There are 27 varieties of special status wildlife species:
- wading birds
- nesting birds
- river otters
This rich and easily accessible park is the perfect place to spend the day for any local resident.
In 2012 an interpretive center was completed and certified 3 Green Globes by the Green Building Initiative for green building design, construction, engineering, and facility design. At the park, there are picnic areas, set up for families or individuals exploring the shoreline. There are also meadows for plays and exploring, and miles of paved and unpaved trails perfect for hiking, biking, or just spending a lazy Sunday walk. However you prefer to enjoy the park, you will enjoy the fresh Delta breezes, the beautiful songs of birds, and hours of outdoor enjoyment.
A visit to the interpretive center begins with a 1200 square foot interactive map of the Delta, including the various ecosystems and wildlife. The map allows you to see how the water flows through the region and can be both interesting and fun, especially for younger visitors.
Once you go inside the Interpretive center, you will be met with Park District Naturalists who will give your information about the center, the park and different park activities going on. Inside there is a major display of Interpretive Panels that are interactive, engaging and paint a vivid picture of the parklands. The panels talk about the history of the area, the diverse plant and animal population in the area, and also ecological efforts that are being made to preserve the area.
Shoreline and Delta Discovery Experience
Outside, as you explore the shoreline, you will find a multitude of things to do. First, there is a 100-foot fishing pier, where fishermen can find the very popular anglers. You can also take to a boat out into the Delta waters, where you can enjoy a day of fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, white catfish, bluegill, sunfish and sturgeon – or just enjoy the beautiful Delta waterways without any sort of agenda. Keep in mind that fishing licenses are required! There are also opportunities for kayaking! Rental services are available for a small fee. Although there is no swimming available, hiking and biking trails run along the southern edge of Big Break and connect to the Marsh Creek Regional Trail and the Delta de Anza Regional Trail. Outside, Park Naturalists conduct a wide variety of programs for groups and the public, including delta history, current issues, birding, wetland ecology, and general nature exploration. There are programs available for both schools and home school groups.
When to Visit
Quite frankly, any day is a good day to visit Big Break. With the beautiful weather we experience throughout the year, every day is a beautiful day at the park. Plus, as the seasons change, the animal habitats, available species, and plant life change…making this a great, local destination to visit throughout the year. The park is wheelchair accessible, with paved trails and accessible water fountains and picnic tables. Parking is free and the activities are also free. Plan your trip by clicking here or PM us for help!