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Bike Camping Lake Del Valle

20 miles from  Dublin /Pleasanton BART
(direction
s - official site - campground map)

 

An oasis in the East Bay, if there ever was one, Lake Del Valle makes for ideally pleasant and pictureque riding and camping.   After getting off of BART at Dublin/Pleasanton you follow suburban bike paths that yield to open road through wine country and finally along some charming oak and farm lined miles up and over a gradual climb that delivers expansive views of the surrounding countryside and a spirited descent into the park.   Lake Del Valle is expansive (how many miles long?) with probably a hundred campsites scattered around the park, near the lake.  A quick tale: We got separated from our friends on our first trip there, arriving at nightfall and without service (you're in the woods out there), and ended up befriending a boyscout troupe who let us pitch our tent on the edge of their claim.  No joke and definitely a tame experience, especially apart from our raucous bike camping lot.   But they welcomed us with a full breakfast spread the next day and with a fascination of our adventure that was second to none.   

So be sure you've got a copy of the camp map printed or saved to your phone so you know where the sweet bike camping spots are.    Venados camp and Hetcy Hetchy camp are both hike in/bike in group spots that are sweetly situated right on northeast side of the lake, quite removed from the rest of the camping areas of the park.  You'll need reservations, but they are generally not difficult to come by.  Venados is a bit farther from the road and therefore our first choice.     As soon as you enter the park you take the first right to the beach, down a paved road which leads to a large parking lot and boat launch.  Keep following the road until you see signs for the Shore Trail.  The dirt trail makes for some spirited riding: small rolling hills lined with views of the large pale blue lake, golden brush and oaks for the mile or so to the campsite.  It's a treasure being a stone's throw from the water and when you arrive there is everything you need: picnic tables, fire pits lined with benches, and grills.  Plus, some ideal tree covered real estate for tents-- enough space for 15-20 people, if you can rally that many.   The lake is a relaxing spot, well protected from wind and far from coastal fog, so it's gets hot (a welcome rarity for San Franciscans), which means it's perfect for swimming.  A short hike up the trail gives way to a nice little beach that is perfect for sippin' and dippin'. 

When you are ready to head home, you can either double back the way you came or take the more adventurous dirt route out right from camp.  It's hilly and more suitable for bikes with wider rubber but it's exciting and shaves a few miles off the return journey.