In an effort to maintain some semblance of an exercise regimen, I try to run several times a week along the San Tomas Aquino Creek trail that starts a few blocks from my home and ends 5 miles or so later at the swamps and marshes of the Baylands. The trail is used at nearly every hour of the day by bicyclists and joggers, by families on weekends and by office workers at lunchtime, by parents pushing strollers and by high school cross-country teams. The creek alongside the trail is filled with tall grasses and ground squirrels, families of brown ducks, and a number of long-necked, white-plumed birds. But elements of the densely suburban and industrial landscape through which the trail winds also define the scenery: you pass beneath a series of busy roadways, including the six lanes of the 101 Freeway and the elevated tracks along which commuter trains periodically shriek; and an inverted shopping cart, backpack, or errant piece of discarded furniture sometimes shows up in the creek among the birds and grasses. All in all, though, the STAC trail is a pretty fabulous public works project: it promotes healthy living and exercise, family and neighborhood engagement, and is accessible to everyone at no cost.
About halfway down, the trail passes alongside what may well be its absolute antithesis: the construction site of the new 49ers stadium.