We were intrigued with an invitation to paddle on the “Jewel of the East Bay,” also known as Lake Chabot, earlier in February. Lake Chabot is an artificial lake in the Oakland Hills. The dam was built in 1874-1875 to create a reservoir that was the primary source for water in the East Bay. In 1976, the dam was designated as a California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. I grew up not far from Lake Chabot; over the years, I’ve hiked the trails around the lake, but this was my first venture on the lake in a kayak.
So on February 9 we strapped the kayaks on the top of the car and drove to Lake Chabot. It’s a bit of a walk from the parking area to the boat ramp, so we took our wheels with us to trundle the boats down to the ramp. Getting a permit to paddle requires a boat inspection. It took me three rounds of inspection to get enough sand out of the boat to satisfy the inspector. At issue is the risk of introducing invasive species that might hitch a ride from a previous waterway. A dry PFD is required as well. Fortunately our PFDs passed inspection. I’m not sure if we would have been allowed on the water with wet PDFs. There is a $4 fee per boat for the inspection. This is on top of the $5 parking fee and a $2 per kayak launching fee. Getting the boats to the water and permitted took a bit of time. We were on the water at 10:40 a.m. Our route took us around the lake in a counterclockwise direction.
We paddled in and around several wetlands. I was intrigued by the composition of my fellow kayakers paddling along the reeds. After circumnavigating the better part of the lake we stopped for lunch.
Along the way we observed a number of birds including a few hawks, egrets, and white pelicans. At the north end of the lake, we watched a turtle scurry through the water plants under our boats. We were off the water around 1:45 p.m. having logged 5.7 miles. I’ve posted a gallery of some 38 photos online.