For decades in the mid 20th century, construction companies dumped their building debris in the Bay west of Albany. Nobody thinks this was a good idea now, but over the years nature and creative humans took over, and Albany Bulb, the resulting junk pile, became home to a crazy array of vegetation and wildlife, as well as a guerrilla arts scene. The area is now at the intersection of several jurisdictions and its future is the subject of lively debate, so now's the time to check out this one-of-a-kind destination.
Behind Golden Gate Fields racetrack, Albany Beach offers one of the few locations where dogs can romp in the Bay. Consult a tide table when you're planning your trip–at high tide, the beach is quite minimal. On the Neck (the path leading to the Bulb) and the Bulb itself, there are endless paths to explore. Some are wide and well maintained, others, especially trails winding through the underbrush, are quite rough.
Keep a leash handy: currently a large area is fenced off for burrowing owl habitat restoration, and those Dangerous Shoreline signs by the bayside paths mean business, so keep Rover off the rocks.
Tips: Expect a wilder and woollier scene than you might find at some other local dog parks, and be prepared to meet a variety of dogs and people. Just past that tree, you might encounter a hiking family, a party of mountain bikers, a solitary stroller, some homeless folks, or artists at work–all with their canine companions. You may spot an amazing sculpture or a pile of trash–and it'll probably be different on your next visit.
Dress in layers; the wind off the Bay is usually brisk, even on warm days. Sturdy shoes are a must. There are essentially no amenities, so bring everything you think you'll need-water, doggie bags, even a first aid kit. Towels too!