Gateways To Joy
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Bay Area Hikes
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Bay Area Hikes around Lakes
Bay Area Hikes around Lakes
1 Jan 2012
Hiking around blue serene lakes is a calming experience. There are over two dozen lakes in the bay area with hiking trails meandering close to their banks.
Bass Lake in Point Reyes

Bass Lake is off the same trail that leads to Alamere Falls. Swimming is allowed in the lake. Many people make a side trip to Bass Lake on their way to Alamere Falls.

Alamere Falls in Point Reyes is one of the two waterfalls in CA that pour directly into the Pacific Ocean. The waterfall is 40 ft tall. The final descent to the beach requires a scramble. In 2012, there was a rope to make the descent safer. During low tide, one may walk half a mile to the south of the beach and several miles to the north to reach Wildcat Camp. The beach walk adds character to the hike.

9.5 miles
1000 ft
Alamere Falls from Palomarin Trailhead
The most popular route to Alamere Falls is from Palomarin Trailhead. Not much change in elevation until the last half mile when the trail drops about 400 ft.
Del Valle Lake

Del Valle Lake is a large serene lake in Livermore. There are hiking trails all along the eastern side of the lake.

9.3 miles
800 ft
East Shore Trail in Del Valle
Great hike meandering along the east shore of Del Valle Lake. Best visited in spring when hills are lush green. Some trails go next the lake. In the south, East Shore Trail goes right next to the lake. In the north, it climbs up hills and Del Valle Lake is seen from various angles along this hike. These views are awesome.
Lake Chabot
9.0 miles
800 ft
Lake Chabot Loop
Nice loop through varied terrain including forests and trails adjoining Lake Chabot. Most of the route stays next to the lake. A quarter of the hike is through a forest in the north. Another quarter of the hike is along a paved road in the east.
Mississippi Lake in Henry Coe

Henry Coe is a gigantic park with over 250 miles of hiking trails. Mississippi Lake is deep inside the park. For one weekend in an year, a road going into the deeper sections of Henry Coe is opened to visitors. On that weekend, Mississippi Lake is reachable by an 11-mile hike.

11.2 miles
1900 ft
Mississippi Lake from Orestimba Corral
A pleasant hike through Orestimba Wilderness through green rolling hills and a walk around Mississippi Lake. Many sections of Hartman Trail were particularly steep.
Kent Lake in Mt Tamalpais Watershed

Kent Lake is the largest lake in Mt Tamalpais Watershed area. The hikes below provide lake access. The routes go along the lake for only a few hundred yards, unlike other lakes in the bay area which can be circumnavigated. The route to Kent Lake goes via Carson Falls, a seasonal waterfall that is best seen after rains in spring. Optionally, one may make the hike longer with a side trip to Pine Mountain for great valley views.

9.1 miles
1700 ft
Carson Falls - Kent Lake - Pine Mountain - Route I
Pretty hike to a seasonal waterfall, a serene lake and a mountain with excellent views in Marin County. Best visited after recent rains.
6.7 miles
1500 ft
Carson Falls - Kent Lake - Route I
Pretty hike to a seasonal waterfall and a serene lake in Marin County. Best visited after recent rains.
Stevens Creek Reservoir

A medium sized lake in Stevens Creek County Park. Stevens Creek / Tony Look Trail meanders along the banks of the lake for about a mile. This lake cannot be circumnavigated because there are no hiking trails on the western side of the lake.

7.0 miles
1000 ft
Tony Look - Coyote Ridge
Nice hike adjoining a lake, through a forest and green rolling hills with panoramic valley views. A side trip along Loop Trail provides access to the reservoir for an additional half mile.
Lakes in Pacheco State Park

Pacheco State Park has several small sized lakes. From spring to early summer, hills are lush green, with wildflowers along some trails.

10.5 miles
1800 ft
Three Lakes via Spikes Peak
A pleasant hike over green rolling hills. Plenty of wildflowers in spring. This route goes through three lakes: Diamond Lake, Bear Hide Lake and Dinosaur Lake. Along the eastern segments of the overall route, there are good views of San Luis Reservoir in the distance.
Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo

Crystal Springs Reservoir and San Andreas Lake are two long lakes in San Mateo with hiking trails along the eastern banks of the lake. Trails are paved and popular among hikers, joggers and cyclists.

12.0 miles
300 ft
Sawyer Camp Trail
A popular jogging, hiking and biking trail in San Mateo adjoining a large lake. One may shorten the hike by returning at any point along the lake. Restrooms are located at regular intervals.
Lafayette Reservoir

Lafayette Reservoir in Lafayette is a popular lake with picnic areas and trails around the lake. There are two loops. The shorter loop is paved and stays next to the lake at all times. The longer loop is rugged with some exceptionally steep sections. It is also in the open, so avoid summers. Views from the longer loop are pretty good.

5.1 miles
900 ft
Long Loop around Lafayette Reservoir
Long hike along rugged fire roads encircling Lafayette Reservoir. Great panoramic views of the lake and valleys nearby.
2.9 miles
500 ft
Short Loop around Lafayette Reservoir
Short hike along a paved road encircling Lafayette Reservoir.
Don Castro Reservoir

Don Castro Reservoir is a small lake in Hayward with picnic areas and a swimming lagoon adjacent to the lake. The lake can be circumnavigated by hiking trails. Some junctions are unmarked. For those seeking a longer route startingat Don Castro Lake or going via the lake, there is the Chabot Garin Trail in the eastern end of the lake.

2.1 miles
0 ft
Don Castro Loop
A short walk around the calm blue Don Castro Lake.
Loch Lomond in Santa Cruz

Loch Lomond is a large lake in Santa Cruz. Half of the eastern bank has a hiking trail adjoining the lake. This trail is almost always shaded and pretty awesome. Access to Loch Lomond is via twisty roads through residential areas.

5.0 miles
800 ft
Loch Trail - Highlands Trail
Great hike that first goes all along the lake, then climbs up a ridge and returns to the trailhead. Most of the route is shaded. The best section consists of hiking trails adjoining the lake. An extensive picnic area near the trailhead.
Shadow Cliffs Lake

Shadow Cliffs Lake is a large lake in Pleasanton is quite popular with a large picnic area. Trails in the north and the south of the lake gain elevation and provide excellent views of the lake from various angles.

5.0 miles
100 ft
Long Loop near Shadow Cliffs Lake
A pleasant walk along all major trails in the park. Trails meander next to two lakes: Lake Boris and Shadow Cliffs Lake.
2.7 miles
100 ft
Short Loop near Shadow Cliffs Lake
A short walk along Shadow Cliffs Lake.
Contra Loma Lake

Contra Loma Lake in Antioch is a calm serene lake with a well developed picnic area in the south. A loop trail going all around the lake offers ever changing views of the lake. On the western side, there are trails going through hills. Even better views of the lake are available from these hills.

5.7 miles
600 ft
Long Loop in Contra Loma Park
Relaxed hike around Contra Loma lake and the hills nearby. Trais in the eastern section of the park, far away from the lake, were unmaintained in March 2011. These trails may be avoided.
Lake Merritt in Oakland

Lake Merritt in Oakland has a paved path encircling the lake. It is surrounded by roads and buildings, so there is constant noise of city traffic everywhere. The three mile loop around Lake Merritt a good urban walk, available to local residents without having to drive afar.

3.3 miles
100 ft
Lake Merritt Loop
A pleasant urban walk around Lake Merritt.
Lake Temescal in Oakland

Lake Temescal in Oakland is a small sized lake with a well developed picnic area and a 'beach area' with plenty of sand. It can be circumavigated with a short one mile loop. The trail in the west of the lake has a wilderness feel to it.

1.1 miles
50 ft
Lake Temescal Loop
A short walk around Lake Temescal.
Lake Merced in San Francisco

Lake Merced is a large lake in San Francisco that may be circumnavigated by walking along paved trails next to city roads. Traffic noise is quite prominent.

1.7 miles
50 ft
North Lake Loop
A short walk around Lake Merced.
San Pablo Reservoir

San Pablo Reservoir has hiking trails all along the western side. In the south, the trail is along a paved road and is quite far away from the banks of the lake. In the north, Whopper Trail goes very near the lake. The trails which go near the lake and are quite pleasant, were unmarked in September 2010.

12.5 miles
700 ft
Orinda Connector to Kennedy Grove
A walk adjoining San Pablo Reservoir with a few miles on paved road.
Coyote Lake in Gilroy

Coyote Lake is a very large lake in Gilroy. There is a network of trails all along the western side of the lake. However, lake access is possible only at the northern end of this trail network. Lake views are occasional even from atop the ridges in the west.

12.3 miles
1200 ft
Mummy Mountain - Coyote Ridge - Calaveras - Valley Oak
A long relaxed walk over green rolling hills, with a stopover at the northern end of Coyote Lake.
Alpine Lake in Mt Tamalpais Watershed

Alpine Lake is a large serene lake in Mt Tamalpais Watershed. The hike below is fairly secluded and provides access to one of the arms of Alpine Lake.

0.7 miles
100 ft
Alpine Lake
A rarely traversed route along an unmaintained trail in Mount Tamalpais Watershed.
Bear Gulch Reservoir in Pinnacles

Bear Gulch Reservoir is a small sized lake near Bear Gulch Caves. The views of the lake surrounded by rocky hills are pretty good. The lake cannot be circumnavigated. Trails skirt around the lake in the east. Bear Gulch Reservoir could be a good destination for those doing a short hike to Bear Gulch Caves.

6.2 miles
1500 ft
Bear Gulch Cave, High Peaks from Bear Gulch Day Use Area - Route I
Fantastic short hike going through Bear Gulch Cave and High Peaks which offer panoramic valley views of rock formations in Pinnacles.
Lake Boronda in Foothills Park

Lake Boronda is a small lake in Foothills Park with hiking trails in the south.

11.4 miles
2000 ft
Los Trancos Trail - Long Loop
Long loop covering all major trails in Foothills Park, going through various micro climates. Los Trancos Trail is the prettiest section of this route.
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