Reporting Julie Watts
Bay Area pet owners have off-leash hikes and routes mastered, but a swimming adventure isn’t easy to come by around here. It seems man’s best friend turns into puppy non grata when water is added to the mix. When the digits on the thermometer begin to rise, splash it up at these water magnets in the East Bay.
Lake Del Valle
7000 Del Valle Rd.
Livermore, CA 94550
(888) 327-2757, Option 3, Ext. 4524
Price: $6 vehicle/$2 dogs
Just 10 miles south of Livermore, Del Valle bills itself as a lakeside resort with year-round swimming possibilities and optimum watercraft play. The lake is five miles long, and dogs are free to swim in all but two designated areas: East and West Swim Beach. Hike along the lake’s west side, exploring Deer Jaw Trail which leads into Bobcat Cove and Badger Cove further up for some serious splashing around. Water shoes are recommended in these parts. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail sits at the eastern entrance of this regional park where family campgrounds, picnic areas and horse camps are concentrated. The fish are always biting at Del Valle, so bring a pole. The lake is regularly stocked with smallmouth bass, trout, catfish and panfish. Be sure to secure a fishing permit in advance. If the plan is to be out all day, remember the sunscreen on both two and four-footed friends. The most sun-sensitive areas include the nose, ears, belly and all thin-skinned surfaces. Check labels for toxic ingredients, especially if your pet is a licker. Pack the day’s necessities, always carry a leash, and be respectful of other park attendees.
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline
2701 Isabel St.
Richmond, CA 94804
(888) 327-2757, Option 3, Ext. 4550
More than half a million dogs visit Point Isabel Regional Park annually and leave a little happier after a dip in Hoffman Channel. A popular spot for pet lovers, the park also attracts hikers, bikers and picnickers swooning over paved trails, 23 acres of scenic landscape and bay fishing (state fishing license required). After hours of muddy play, head to Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub, a dogwashing/pet store located along the San Francisco Bay Trail to get that wet coat smelling clean and fresh. Sit & Stay cafe located next door will satisfy any human’s caffeine or sugar fix. Point Isabel is open daily and easily accessible by car and public transportation. While at the park, all dogs may be off-leash, but must be kept under voice control and within sight at all times. If a situation becomes aggressive or any dog begins to show signs of aggressive behavior, that dog must be leashed immediately. Owners must clean up after their dogs and should try to prevent park damage as well.
Lake Anza Road off of Central Park Drive
Berkeley, CA 94708
(888) 327-2757, Option 3, Ext. 4563
Price: $3.50 ages 16 to 61/$2.50 ages 1 to 15/ free seniors, disabled and children younger than 1/cash and checks only
Lake Anza sits in Tilden Regional Park, one of the oldest parks in the Berkeley hills, and still considered the “jewel” of the system. Swim season runs for five months, depending on the weather, from May through September. Maintaining a delicate balance as a region dedicated to environmental preservation as well as one loyal and devoted to animal lovers, Tilden allows all dogs to roam off-leash on Lake Anza’s sandy beach and dip inside the reservoir. However, no dogs are allowed in the pool area, wetland or marsh. Once at the beach, your needs are met with changing rooms, picnic tables and the Lake Anza Beach Cafe a few feet from the water. The beach is open 99 percent of the time, but closes to all when blue-green algae forms. Its website is updated daily, so check before heading out to see what maintenance, if any, is taking place that may stonewall even the best laid plans. Remember to keep dogs under voice control at all times while in the freshwater swimming hole. Professional dog walkers must first obtain a permit before heading to Tilden Park.
Related: Best North Bay Hikes for Dog Lovers
Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.