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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


Los Vaqueros Reservoir

Los Vaqueros Reservoir

Los Vaqueros reservoir is operated by the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD). Much like nearby Del Valle Lake (maintained by EBRPD), the reservoir supports various recreational activities like boating, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. Being a source of potable water, swimming and pets are not allowed in the area.

Note that there are two entrances within the park that do not connect: in order to drive to the other side, you’ll need to exit and drive ~45mins on Vasco.

The area supports various wildlife including bobcats, raptors, coyotes, and egrets. The hikes here vary in difficulty from gentle, flat strolls along the lakeside to steep rolling hills.

Los Vaqueros Essential Info

September 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
October 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nov. – Feb. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
March 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April-August 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parking Cost: $6, $5 Seniors, $4 CCWD customers.

Getting There

Los Vaqueros Reservoir Map
Los Vaqueros North and South Entrances

There are two entrances separated by about 45 minutes, so make sure to pick the right one!

The northern, Brentwood entrance provides access to the John Muir Interpretive center while the southern, Livermore, entrance provides access to the marina. The link on the map to the right will bring you to the south entrance. For a link to the northern entrance (and through to the interpretive center), click here.

From the Walnut Creek, Concord, and Antioch areas of the easy bay, the fastest way is probably via Highway 4 West to Vasco.

If coming from other parts of the bay area, take 580E and exit Vasco road in Livermore.


Kellogg Creek Trail

Length: ~5 miles (in and out)
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Located on the north side of the lake, this trail follows Kellogg creek to the John Muir Interpretive center. From there, it’s a short but steep climb up a paved road to the the top of the dam with access to several other trails.

Oak Tree
Oak Tree
John Muir Interpretive Center
John Muir Interpretive Center

Black Hills to Cañada Trail loop

Length: ~7 miles
Time: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Shifting to the south side, this trail brings you up in the hills with sweeping views of the reservoir with good opportunities to see raptors.

Los Vaqueros Trail

Length: Variable
Time: Variable
Difficulty: Easy

Also located on the south side, this trail starts from the marina and roughly follows the lake’s shoreline. You’ll hike past peaceful coves and migrating birds resting within.


Nearby Brushy Peak, on the southern end of Vasco Road is home to many raptors due to the abundance of mice, squirrels and rabbits.