The path is named for the indigenous Ohlone, who originally lived in the area.
The Greenway begins in Berkeley at the east end of Ohlone Park located at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Hearst Avenue. From there, it runs westward to the west end of the park at Sacramento and Delaware. In the segment around the North Berkeley BART Station (one block west on Delaware to Acton, then one block north on Acton to Virginia), the bike path becomes a street-running bike lane.
At Virginia, the path resumes its own dedicated course just northwest of the North Berkeley BART station and runs northwestward through the cities of Albany, and El Cerrito, terminating at San Pablo Avenue at Baxter Creek Gateway Park in Richmond.
For most of its length, the Ohlone Greenway runs along what was formerly a railroad right of way, and alongside the elevated tracks of the BART Richmond line. For most of this stretch, the Greenway is divided into two paths, one for pedestrians, the other for bicyclists. The segment from the North Berkeley BART station to Rose Street in north Berkeley was formerly the right of way of the Key System's "G" Westbrae line. The segment from Rose to just north of the El Cerrito del Norte BART station was formerly the right of way of the Santa Fe Railroad (and originally, of the California and Nevada Railroad). For about six years, from 1973–79, it was possible to see both a BART train and a Santa Fe freight train alongside each other (the BART train above on the overhead elevated tracks) in the right of way which became the Ohlone Greenway. The "linear park" was constructed in conjunction with BART, and received federal funds for landscaping and beautification.
In late 2006, a portion of what will eventually become a branch of the Ohlone Greenway in Berkeley south to University Avenue using another segment of the old Santa Fe right-of-way was opened between University and Delaware. In November 2007, the City of Berkeley approved the use of the old Santa Fe right-of-way south of University, extending the Ohlone Greenway branch about two blocks to Strawberry Creek Park. The last segment between Cedar Rose Park and Delaware remained an undeveloped dirt right-of-way blocked by a fence at Cedar until late 2010 when construction began to close this gap. It was opened in late 2012.
Work is underway to extend the Greenway west from the terminus at Baxter Creek to unite with the new Richmond Greenway running along the abandoned former right of way of the Santa Fe Railroad to the Point Richmond neighborhood in western Richmond.
Portions of the Greenway were closed to the public from 2011 to 2014, due to a seismic retrofit project to strengthen the elevated BART tracks. The project was completed in January 2014.
- "A History of BART: The Project is Rescued". Bay Area Rapid Transit. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Oakland Tribune, Dec. 14, 2007, page 2 Metro Section