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Month: August 2018

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area – Levee and North Arroyo Trails

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area – Levee and North Arroyo Trails

Total distance: 3.2 mi
Total climbing: 597 ft


Shadow Cliffs sits in the the “Chain of Lakes” area of Pleasanton, created by gravel mining operations run by the Kaiser Sand and Gravel Company started in 1938. Donated by Kaiser Industries in 1971, the Shadow Cliffs regional recreation area provides swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking activities as part of the East Bay Regional Park District.

Shadow Cliffs Levee-Arroyo Trail Essential Info

Length: 3mi
Time: 1.5 hr
Difficulty: Easy
Alltrails link:

Fees: $6 per vehicle, $2 per dog
Trail Map:

Nov – Feb
7am – 5pm
Mar – Apr
6am – 7pm
May – Labor Day (Sep)
6am – 9pm
After Labor Day (Sep) – Oct
6am – 7

Getting There

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area
Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area lies situated in Pleasanton near the border with Livermore.

To get there, Take 580E towards Tracy and exit Santa Rita Road, going South. Turn left at Valley and then make another left at Stanley. The park entrance will be on your right hand side.

The Trail

Levee and Arroyo Trails
Levee and Arroyo Trails

Checkpoint: Parking Lot

Relative to most of the EBRPD parks, Shadow Cliffs has a huge parking lot. For this guide, we start out in the parking lot furthest away from the entrance located in the boat launch area. All of the parking lots have easy access to the Levee trail. The 2nd parking lot features solar panels providing shady spots and are probably the most ideal choice.

Checkpoint: Levee Trail Start

Depending on the parking lot, look for signs directing you towards the Levee trail. The Levee trail runs along the back side (the direction opposite of the main lake) of all three parking lots. There will be a short climb up to the top of the levee where it then flattens out.

Make a left when you reach the top of the levee. The main recreational lake and parking lots should be on your left hand side and the Arroyo Del Valle on the right hand side.

This long flat trail is popular with trail runners and provides decent views of Mt Diablo over the main lake (our featured picture at the top of this page). On the right hand side runs the Arroyo Del Valle which sources from the hills of Santa Clara County, through Del Valle Lake, and eventually flows out to the San Francisco Bay via Alameda Creek.

Island Pond, on the Arroyo Del Valle
Turkey Vultures roost at Island Pond, on the Arroyo Del Valle

Continue along the Levee Trail until you dead end at the park boundary.

Checkpoint:  Boundary

Shadowcliffs Boundary
Shadowcliffs Boundary, CEMEX still operates

From the boundary, turn back towards the direction you came while looking out for the North Arroyo Trail turn off on the left hand side.

Checkpoint: Arroyo Trail

When you find the turn off, descend down the levee onto the North Arroyo Trail. It should take you close to the bottom edge of Island Pond then turn away to follow the Arroyo Del Valle which runs parallel to the Levee Trail.

Follow the Arroyo Trail where you can get close to the water’s edge. Fishermen kick back from the shoreline or float on un-powered inner tubes in Boris Lake to catch the catfish, trout, largemouth bass, and bluegills that are regularly stocked.

Checkpoint: Lake View

Boris Lake, along the Arroyo Del Valle, is a popular place for fishermen and dog walkers during the summer where their furry friends can take a quick dip in the shallow lake waters.

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass in the Boris Lake

Checkpoint: Crossroads

Proceeding down the Arroyo Trail you’ll come to a crossroads in sight of the entry kiosk and the first parking lot. Here you can choose to continue on the Levee Trail to circle around the Rimillard Marsh (as shown in this guide), cross the Arroyo Del Valle to the South Arroyo trail (note this is not a loop), or head towards the parking lot and finish your hike.

If you choose to circle around the Rimillard Marsh, continue on the Levee trail and then be on the lookout for the signs to  return back to the parking lot. The trail otherwise continues towards a BMX bike park at the outskirts of Shadow Cliffs.


Shadowcliffs Alternates


Lake Del Valle East Shore/Heron Bay Loop

Lake Del Valle East Shore/Heron Bay Loop

Nestled in the Livermore valley, Lake Del Valle is an East Bay Regional Park District recreational facility supporting activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, biking, and hiking.

Total distance: 4.47 mi
Total climbing: 1611 ft

Lake Del Valle – East Shore to Heron Bay Essential Info

Length: 4 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (some steep areas)
Dogs: OK, off-leash OK
Cost: Free (At the arroyo staging area, main entrance costs $6/vehicle).
Alltrails Link:–2


Lake Del Valle is the result of the damming of the Arroyo del Valle. Currently, the earthen dam trickles a stream that flows to the Shadow Cliffs recreation area that empties into the Arroyo Valle. The Arroyo Valle joins the Arroyo de la laguna and then merges into the Alameda Creek (which sources from the Sunol Regional Wilderness) and eventually flows into the San Francisco Bay just outside of the Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Built in 1968 as part of the South Bay Aqueduct project which serves Alameda and Santa Clara counties, the East Bay Regional Park District has maintained the recreational facilities since 1970. Water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta is pumped into Bethany Reservoir located in Tracy where it then flows to Patterson Reservoir just east of Livermore. From there, water flows to Lake Del Valle and down to San Jose.

Getting There

The East Shore trail begins at the Arroyo staging area which is not the main entrance. 

From I580 E, exit North Livermore. Take North Livermore south till it becomes South Livermore and turn Right onto Concannon Blvd.

At Arroyo Rd, make a right. Follow the road. You’ll pass by a golf course, the Wente Winery restaurant and the VA Palo Alto Hospital areas.

Make a left into the Arroyo Staging area.

The Trail

The Heron Bay Trail has two distinct loops sections which branch and return from the East Shore trail. This hike only does the northern loop. Adding the southern loop would tack on about 3.5 miles to the overall distance and about another 2 hours.

Del Valle Heron Bay Trail
Del Valle Heron Bay Trail

Checkpoint: Start

Earthen Dam creating Lake Del Valle
Earthen Dam creating Lake Del Valle

From the parking lot, find the trailhead and proceed through the grassland below the earthen dam that makes Lake Del Valle possible.

You’ll quickly cross a small bridge over the Arroyo Del Valle.

Checkpoint: Arroyo Del Valle Bridge

From the bridge, get your glutes ready as the trail begins its primary ascent to the top of the dam.

Great Blue Heron in the Arroyo Del Valle
Great Blue Heron in the Arroyo Del Valle

Checkpoint: Overlook

After the ascent, a small bench about 100ft further down the trail provides shade underneath an oak tree to take a rest and admire the views: the lake to the south or the livermore valley to the north.


Once your legs have recovered, remain on the East shore trail and proceed along the ridge.

Checkpoint: Loop Return and Bald Eagle Viewing

The East shore trail will intersect the Heron bay trail twice. At the second intersection, take the Heron bay trail and loop back to the beginning.

Throughout the hike, be on the lookout for the distinctive white head of bald eagles which are reportedly nesting in this section of the lake.

Since 1996, bald eagles have been sighted at Lake Del Valle. They’ve also been sighted at Los Vaqueros (Livermore) and Chabot Lake (Castro Valley) in the east bay.

Bald Eagle at Lake Del Valle
Bald Eagle at Lake Del Valle

Checkpoint: Lake View

The Heron bay trail returns slightly above lake level offering a closer perspective of the water. In the early morning, you’ll often hear and see fish leaping or lazily drifting in the shallows.

Lake view from the Heron bay trail
Lake view from the Heron bay trail

One final ascent along the trail will bring you back to a familiar bench and tree at the overlook. From here, return to the staging area by retracing the East shore trail downhill.

Lake Del Valle Alternates

Within Lake Del Valle, there are many other spectacular hikes such as the East ridge and Ohlone trails (reports coming soon!).

Near Livermore there’s also: