Waterdog Lake in Belmont, CA

Waterdog Lake wasn't quite what I expected.  It's close by (located in Belmont, just off Ralston and Alameda), and somehow that makes you think safe.  Think again...if you choose to, you can get quite a bit of excitement here!  Technical, very steep climbs, twisty singletrack, crazy little descents and quite a bit of poison oak make this much more challenging than Arastradero Preserve.

If you stick to the main trail (called Lake Road) it's not so bad.  But if you want to do some real exploring, I'd strongly recommend riding with someone who knows the place and be prepared to be seriously questioned when you bring your thrashed bike into the shop for repairs and say that you were "just" riding at Waterdog Lake, and any bike ought to be able to take that!

Great things are happening at Waterdog Lake!  This is a rare opportunity...the city of Belmont is actually encouraging the mountain bike community to help plan and build trails.  Not enough thanks can go to Berry Stevens, a long-time crusader for the rights of responsible mountain bikers.  Find out more on our local issues page.

The entrance to Waterdog Lake, at Lyall Way & Lake Road in Belmont. As is the case with most rides on this website, climbing is not an option!
But as is the case with most climbs, there are rewards.  The views stretch all the way from San Francisco to San Jose. Why wear a helmet?  Sergei demonstrated this for us by crashing on a descent, breaking his helmet (but not his head).

I'm not paranoid...these guys were clearly plotting against me!  Left to right are Bruno, Sergei and Pat, all Chain Reaction employees. There is little doubt in my mind that youth is, indeed, wasted on the young.  Bruno and Pat share bike handling skills that demonstrate no fear of failure, while Sergei is just a bit more mortal.  I, on the other hand...let's just say I feel a lot more at home on a road bike!
The first of several extremely steep (and fairly technical) climbs.  Bruno & Pat made it up; I got a ways up and then walked.

Looks pretty, doesn't it?  Sure it does!  Starts as a wide single-track trail, narrows down quickly and then becomes about half-an-inch wide (well, seemed that way to me!) as it meanders past creeks, poison oak (why did that plant seem to wave after I rode past?) and gigantic spider-web canopies.  Low clearance is a definite issue as I just about had my helmet ripped off at one point.
One of the more improved road surfaces, this time a very rocky, and relatively steep descent.
Bruno above, and Pat on the right, demonstrating hill-climbing technique on one of the steepest section of trail we encountered.   It's almost impossible to make it all the way up this; what separates the great from the also-rans is a lack of fear of consequences when you can't go any further.
At the top of the hill you're riding past backyards of homes with true million-dollar views... ...of cyclists having a great time doing jumps and thrashing both bike & limb.  
And in this case, bike thrashing meant Bruno unclipping in the middle of a jump, causing an unexpectedly-difficult landing (OK, crash) which resulted in a blown rear tube!

Last updated 10/02/05