Unlike the shorter Lake Chabot loop, which is mostly on the busy lakeshore, the bicycle loop mostly runs through the quiet, wooded interior of the park, with a bit of lakeshore at the beginning and end. It’s a much different loop but just as enjoyable in its own way.
The bicycle loop is gets kind of hilly once it leaves the lakeshore, but at least it’s on wide, well-maintained dirt and paved roads. It’s mostly used by cyclists, but it also makes a pretty good day hike.
The loop isn’t very well marked and is pretty much impossible to follow without some sort of map.
The loop can be started from any of three parking lots. The description below starts from the Lake Chabot Marina. It costs $5 to park there, but given the frequent car break-ins in this region, it seems worthwhile to pay a little to park in the area with the most people around.
An alternative (by some accounts more popular than the official loop) is to start from the Redwood Canyon Golf Course, then take the Ten Hills Trail along the southern edge of the park to the marina. To return, just stay on the Brandon Trail all the way to the golf course. There are two advantages to this loop: the golf course parking lot is free, and it avoids the steep descent on the Live Oak Trail. But it adds about a mile and is a lot less scenic.
Start from the Marina and take the West Shore Trail past the snack bar. The very popular trail winds alongside the lake with its fishing boats and honking geese.
Shortly after passing over the dam, the paved trail climbs to an intersection with the Bass Cove Trail. Turn right onto this dirt road. The road starts to feel quieter and woodsier and the number of people on the trail drops off a lot as soon as you leave the pavement. There are still some great lake views.
Stay to the left to take the Goldenrod Trail, which climbs away from the lake. After passing through a eucalyptus grove, the trail climbs through open meadows. This trail runs along the edge of the park, near a golf course and a suburban neighborhood. It’s fine but not especially interesting or scenic.
The scenery improves as the route turns onto Jackson Grade and descends into a dense eucalyptus grove. Cross a stone bridge and continue on the Brandon Trail, which climbs gently though eucalyptus woods for several miles. The trail skirts the former site of the Chabot Gun Club; until the club was closed in 2016, the sound of gunfire was really loud in this area. Now it’s remarkably quiet and woodsy.
The trail emerges into a grassy meadow and then crosses Marciel Road. Soon after there’s a nice viewpoint, the only real panoramic view of the entire loop. Turn onto the Towhee Trail, then the Live Oak Trail, which descends steeply through oak groves to the lake.
Take the busy paved Lake Shore Trail back to the marina.
© 2018, 2023 David Baselt