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 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: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/del-valle-heron-bay–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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Los Vaqueros Reservoir
- Similar to Lake Del Valle but less crowded. Operated by the Contra Costa County Water District.
- Sunol Regional Wilderness
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