BARTable by bike: Lake Chabot

An oasis in the wilderness exists near Bay Fair Station in San Leandro. Photo courtesy of BARTable staff.

Editor's note: BART is currently running reduced service for essential travel. We are dispatching long trains even though ridership has been significantly reduced. We are doing this to ensure our riders can properly socially distance from one another. If you plan to ride BART, see our feature, Tips for riding BART during COVID-19.

Before heading out, make sure you understand local requirements on social distancing and wearing a mask. Alameda County and San Francisco city health officials require residents to wear face coverings any time they leave home and get within 30 feet of anyone not living in their household. If you need a mask, check out our feature, Bay Area businesses selling masks during COVID-19

Difficulty

• Short route: intermediate
• Long route: advanced

Terrain

• Short route: hilly pavement, about 10 miles total
• Long route: hilly pavement and gravel, about 17 miles total

Cautions

• Both routes include a 1.5-mile long hill between Bay Fair Station and Lake Chabot Regional Park. Make sure your gears are in good working order for the ascent and that your brakes are tuned up for the descent.
The long route includes gravel trails and some steep descents. Ensure you are comfortable riding this type of terrain before attempting the long version of the route.
 
The climb up Fairmont Dr may seem daunting, but the reward of reaching the park is worth it. Photo courtesy of BARTable staff.

Introduction

In 1866, Anthony Chabot observed the waters of San Leandro Creek colliding with Grass Valley Creek and the idea for a reservoir in the area was born. A dam was constructed, and the 315-acre Lake Chabot reservoir was built. The reservoir provided Oakland and San Leandro’s main water supply from 1876-1926. Today, the East Bay gets most of its water from the Sierra Foothills and Lake Chabot is reserved for an emergency drinking supply only. However, the lake opened to recreation in the 1960s and families have been coming to enjoy the beautiful surroundings ever since.

What to bring

Comfortable riding shoes, helmet, water bottles, sun protection (hat, sunscreen), extra layers or rain gear (just in case). A smartphone is handy for maps and looking up information or taking photos. And, of course, your Clipper card. Make sure to download the Ride with GPS app so you can easily reference the route.

How to get there

From Bay Fair Station, Lake Chabot is reached through a 1.5-mile climb up Fairmont Dr. Exiting the station, head east and pass in front of the movie theater. Cross E 14th St at the traffic light and turn left on Plaza Dr. Ride a few blocks until you reach Fairmont Dr. Turn right and follow Fairmont Dr for about two miles until you reach the Lake Chabot Marina.

Alternatively, the park can be accessed from Castro Valley Station by riding on Castro Valley Blvd to Lake Chabot Rd. This avoids the hill climb up Fairmont Dr from the western approach.

Short route

The short route is an out-and-back that brings you from the station into Lake Chabot Regional Park. From there, you'll ride along the west shore of the lake to the end of the paved trail at the junction with Bass Cove Trail.

The wide, paved trail follows the contours of the lake.
 
The short route ends at this junction. To continue on the long route, follow the trail to the right.

Long route

The long route includes the official 12-mile Lake Chabot bicycle loop via Live Oak Trail. The loop gets you away from the crowds along the lakeshore and into the quiet, wooded interior of the park, but it comes at the expense of having more than twice the amount of climbing than the short route.

The trails of the long route are made up of well-maintained dirt.

Highlights of the ride

San Leandro Farmers' Market at Bayfair Center

Plan your ride on a Saturday morning and on your way to the park pick up everything you'll need for a picnic. This farmers' market features over 45 vendors and includes fresh fruits, veggies, breads, cheeses, meats, flowers, and honey products.

This market is on your way to the park, located in the parking lot of the Bayfair Center and makes up a network of many Bay Area markets through the California Farmers' Markets Association, operating since 1994.  

Veggies for sale at the San Leandro Farmers' Market at Bayfair Center. Photo courtesy of Raquel Crites. 

Lake Chabot Regional Park

The park has many features including fishing for trout and catfish, boating, kayaking, and sailing with guided tours available, volleyball and horseshoe pits, and picnicking areas. Plus, you can grab a bite at the Marina Café, which serves burgers, nachos, salads, sandwiches, and coffee.

Rent a boat at the marina or get something to eat at the café.
 
There are many spots to fish along the lake.
 

When you're ready to head back into the urban world, enjoy the long descent down Fairmont Dr back to Bay Fair Station.

Visit bart.gov/bikes to check BART’s bike rules, then strap on your helmet and get out there!

Subscribe. Follow. Share