Fall is a fantastic time for family hiking and enjoying the outdoors in the Bay Area. There are great hikes for kids that provide plenty of opportunities to see the splendors of the season and spectacular trees in full array of autumn colors.
The Lafayette Reservoir can be a beautiful spot for walks and hikes for the whole family! As of September 2020, the trials and parking lot are open with some COVID-19 restrictions – see more park info here. There are a few different trails available at the Reservoir:
Lower Lake Trail: (about 1 hr – takes K Group about 2- 2.5 hr with lots of breaks along the way)
A 2.75-mile loop along the lake with lots of trees, scenic views, wildlife, and resting spots. On the way, you can take a short detour and go on a nature hike down to the docks along the waterfront. You can try a little fishing down at the docks on the east side or just enjoy being on the water. — Great for beginners!
Rim Trail: (2.5 – 3 hrs; go early in am and bring plenty of water/snack and wear hat/sunscreen)
If you’re up for more of an adventure, try the upper Rim Trail! It is a 6.78-mile hike with lots of steep hills to climb, and awesome views of Mt. Diablo and the reservoir. Trek through the fields and explore all the great fall wildlife!
Sunset Trail: (~30 minutes)
The sunset trail is a short hike that makes a little loop up towards the Rim Trail on the East side of the reservoir. Once it connects to the Rim trail it circles back down to give you a nice shaded hike! Start from where Roughing It Day Camp has it’s opening/closing circle area and head up the hill. At the top, the road will fork and going right will lead to the rim trail but going left will lead you around the Sunset Trail! If you stop at the fork, you can look back to see a full view of Roughing Its areas and landmarks such as the Crafts Tree and Capt’n Rough’s Cove! Taking the road left from the fork you’ll head uphill then soon begin a shaded downhill trail. Take it all the way to the bottom and you’ll end up in a wooded grove where camper groups love to make lizard huts. Follow the trail as it turns and goes above the parking lot to the wooden stairs. Go down the stairs and go west towards the entry gate and you will make your way back to the beginning of the path and the parking lot.
You can also try a little fishing down at the docks around the reservoir or just enjoy being down near the water. Before fishing, you will need to get a fishing permit and daily permit for Moms and or Dads to fish with your campers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Ranger station may be closed or have reduced hours so double-check before going to get your permits and bait. Learn more at: Lafayette Reservoir Website. Ask your camper for the Roughing It rules on Fishing and be sure to use your “fishy voices” on the dock.
Visit Your Favorite Camp Spots: ( 20 min—45 min depending on which spots you visit) You can take your family to all our favorite Camp Spots. Start at the entrance Gate next to bathrooms at the parking lot (south side of parking lot where camp buses park). Visit Opening Circle, the Crafts Tree, Your Group’s Meeting spot on lawn, go down to Dock 2, the fishing dock; and back up and around the bend to Dock 3, the boating dock. Be sure to use your fishy voices so as not to disturb any fishermen. If you did kayak, go around the lake past the Ranger Station to show your parents the kayaking cage, where the kayaks are stored in the summer. Or go past the spot where the RI canoes are stored. Or take your parents to your secret fort. Head home knowing how great it was to relive your Camp Days!
Getting outside and being active can be more impactful than ever these days with virtual school and social distancing. Take advantage of the beautiful areas nearby such as the Lafayette Reservoir and go on some beautiful and relaxing hikes with your kids and family!
Resources and Tips for Visiting the Lafayette Reservoir:
Tips for Successful Hiking at the Lafayette Reservoir:
Go hiking early in the morning especially when the temperature is going to be in the 90’s or above.
Locate one of the few opened bathrooms closest to you and use one before you start the hike.
Wear a hat, sturdy hiking shoes, and sunscreen all exposed areas of your body.
Bring a small day pack with a cell phone and any extra items you may want, including an extra water bottle.
Have every hiker carry a day pack with their own water bottle, extra drink, and small trail snack(s) to keep spirits high.
Bring water for your dog and dog snack ( suggestion from Gus). All dogs must stay on a leash the whole hike!
Keep your hands at your side to avoid touching vegetation especially poison oak.
Take plenty of water breaks. (There is currently no picnicking at Res)
There is little shade on most sections of the trails, so check with everyone to see how they are doing, especially your dog!
Be sure to do a tick check when you get home or before you shower or bath at end of the day.
Bring a Nature Book to help identify the trees and critters you see on the trail.
Enjoy the simple beauty of the Res & Have Fun!