Home > BART, East Bay, Hike > Circling the Lafayette Reservoir

Circling the Lafayette Reservoir

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Lafayette Reservoir - by Jen English

After an easy walk alongside a creek on a wide multi-use path (completed in summer 2009), this hike’s route heads up and around the rim of Lafayette Reservoir.  This hike features a side trip on the narrow and shady Moraga Road to Reservoir Rim Trail. Lafayette Reservoir, with its close proximity to BART and its multiple access points from surrounding neighborhoods, is a good example of nature and recreation that is easy to reach without getting in a car. If you live or work in the East Bay, the shorter option of this route would be a good after-work or end-of-the-weekday chance for exercise and nature.

Places visited: Lafayette Reservoir (East Bay Municipal Utilities District – EBMUD), Moraga Road to Reservoir Rim Trail (City of Lafayette trail system)
Approximate Length: 8.5 miles (7.25 mile shorter option)
Hiking Time:
3-4 hours
Lafayette Reservoir (PDF), Moraga Road to Reservoir Rim Trail
Flat and paved to and from the reservoir, continuous rolling ups and downs (some steep) on the  dirt rim trail.
Transit schedule: BART (selection Lafayette as your Arrival station)
Start and end point: Lafayette BART station
Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take BART from any station. Board a Pittsburg/Bay Point train. Exit at Lafayette station.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Millbrae, transfer to BART in the station. Take a Pittsburg/Bay Point train, which travels direct from Millbrae on weekends. Get off at Lafayette station.
  • From the East Bay, take a Pittsburg/Bay Point BART train to Lafayette. If you are travelling south from a station on the Richmond line, transfer to the Pittsburg/Bay Point line at MacArthur; north from Fremont, transfer at 12th St; from Dublin/Pleasanton, transfer at Bay Fair to a Richmond train, and at 12th Street to a Pittsburg/Bay Point train.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit (GGT) Route 42 (from the San Rafael Transit Center) to El Cerrito Del Norte BART. Take a San Francisco or Fremont train to MacArthur station. At MacArthur, transfer to a Pittsburg/Bay Point train to San Francisco.  Alternately, if you live in the Marin City/Sausalito area, take GGT Route 10 to San Francisco. Get off at the Civic Center stop and walk two blocks to Market Street to Civic Center BART. Take a Pittsburg/Bay Point train to Lafayette. (During weekday commutes, several other GGT lines run to Civic Center.)


  • If you do this hike in the summer, be aware that it can get very hot in Lafayette. Particularly if you are coming from San Francisco or a location near the Bay (and accustomed to much cooler hiking temperatures), I recommend an early morning or late afternoon start.
  • This route offers a number of options for food before and after your hike. Heading out on the hike, at the intersection of Happy Valley Road and Mount Diablo Blvd., you will see (just off to your left) the Diablo Foods grocery store. Shortly after you turn on Mount Diablo, there is a Trader Joe’s on your left. Also to and from the reservoir are shops with sandwiches. When you return from the hike, continue on Mount Diablo Blvd. past your turn at Happy Valley to shortly come across several other casual restaurants.
  • There is a parking fee at Lafayette Reservoir, but no fee if you walk into the park.
  • In addition to the Rim Trail, a shorter paved path circles the lake. I did not include a walk along this path as part of this hike, but you could add this on to your hike if you wish. Be aware, though, that this path can be extremely crowded on the weekends. If you have been hiking along the Rim Trail in relative quiet and at a good pace, you may find it frustrating to then walk on the paved trail. I would recommend the paved path for a different trip, when you want a more leisurely or social outing or as a good option for children in strollers.
  • Along the route, and as noted in the directions, are a few trails heading down to the lake. If you would like to shorten or vary this route, cut down on any of these trails to continue the route on the flat lakeside path. And if you really like hills, you could try zig-zagging back and forth from the rim to the lakeside trail around the reservoir.
  • Additional activities at the reservoir include fishing, boating (boats are available for rental), picnicking and barbecuing.
  • Before heading back on BART, you may be interested in going behind the station and through the parking lot to look at the “Lafayette crosses.” This is a large collection of crosses on a hillside, put up as a memorial to U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq War.


  • After arriving at Lafayette and exiting the train, head out of the station through the City Center exit. Turn right at the sidewalk to walk through the parking lot.
  • Turn left at the street, Happy Valley Road.
  • Happy Valley ends shortly at Mount Diablo Blvd. Cross the street and turn right onto Mt. Diablo.
  • When you cross Risa Road, you will be walking on a wide, paved multi-use pathway. To your left is a creekbed.
  • At the entrance to Lafayette Reservoir, turn in and (watching carefully for cars) continue on the multi-use pathway (now a slightly narrower divided path). The path heads up, with the road on your right, and then crossed the road to continue on the other side of the road.
  • Just past a restroom and fish cleaning station, look for stairs and a sign on your right for the West Rim Trail. Head up the stairs and through a picnic area.
  • Continue straight up on the trail, passing a service area, to start on the ups and downs of the Rim Trail.
  • Pass the signed West View Trail on your left.
  • Pass an unmarked trail on your left.
  • Pass a trail on your right that heads into the neighborhood.
  • Pass an unmarked trail on your left.
  • When you reach the small Rheem Reservoir area, head around it on either side. If you go around on the right, pass a road heading out into the neighborhood.  Once you are around the reservoir, continue straight onto a paved road that quickly becomes dirt.
  • Shortly you will come to a view spot on your left. Stop to admire the view, noting (but not taking) a trail that heads down to the lakeside. Continue on the wide Rim Trail.
  • Pass the signed Campolindo trail on your left.
  • Pass a trail/stairs on your right that head into the neighborhood.
  • Pass the signed Big Oak Trail on your left.
  • At the signed Lafayette Reservoir to Moraga Road trail, turn right.
  • Shortly the trail narrows. Watch your footing if there are lots of leaves on the ground, and especially if the ground is wet. You will go down a few steps, over two bridges, passing alongside property lines.
  • The trail ends at Moraga Road. Just to your right is Via Granada, a road that leads into a neighborhood. You could get back to the Rim trail by going through the neighborhood, but you would be backtracking to a portion of the Rim Trail you already covered. Moraga Road itself is a busy thoroughfare with no sidewalks and very little shoulder in this section, so do not walk along the street. Instead, turn around and head back on the trail, back to its intersection with the Rim trial.
  • Turn right and continue hiking on the Rim Trail.
  • At a sign for the Sunset Trail (which heads straight), turn left to go down to the lakeside.
  • When your trail meets with the paved lakeside trail, turn right. Continue past play areas, restrooms, and parking, and head out on the path you came in on.
  • Turn right onto Mount Diablo Blvd.
  • Turn left at Happy Valley Road.
  • Turn right at the sidewalk and through the BART parking lot to the station entrance. Congratulations, you made it!

Shorter (approx. 7.25 miles) option:

  • Follow the directions above, but skip the side trip to the Lafayette Reservoir to Moraga Road trail.
Categories: BART, East Bay, Hike
  1. September 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Jen, you are so inspiring.

    I have a mini-walking NYC goal: to visit all the public parks/ gardens in the greater Village.

    As for Lafayette, I underscore your comment about the temperature in that part of the Bay. It can get very hot – bring lots of water and/ or watery fruit (citrus, melons).

  2. September 22, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    This sounds great…I love that it starts and ends at BART–the most convenient way to get to the great outdoors!

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