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Waterdog

Waterdog Lake Park is in the city of Belmont. This park is different because it is located in the middle of the city. This is a fun ride even though (or because) the park is so small. The trails are tight and twisty and there are quite a few intersections, so you can mix the ordering and direction to get some route variety. The ride mileage here is not usually very high but there is a surprising amount of climbing interspersed to make it a good workout.

Park: Waterdog - Belmont City Park
Date: Multiple Rides
Distance: 7-12 miles
Ride Time: Various
Total Ascent: 1500 to 2400 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 7

To get there, take the Ralston Ave. exit off of either 101 or 280. From either direction, go to Lyall Avenue and find a parking place. The park entrance is near the only intersection in the middle of Lyall.

Our usual route is to ride up the Lake Road Trail fire road to the far end, passing the lake on the way. This is a nice warm-up and gives you a chance to chat with your riding partners. This is an easy, slight grade that everyone can ride. At the end of the road, go left on John Brooks Trail on the wide open downhill. This starts a series of hill climbs and descents before it narrows down to single track trail (stay to the right at the junctions). There are several trails from this point on that split off in various directions and then re-join later. We usually stay on John Brooks to Rambler. Turn right at the end of Rambler (watch the last gully and creek crossings) onto Canyon Creek. Climb up this trail and then turn right onto Upper Creek to get to Hastings Avenue. After a short breather, head back down the way you just came up, but bear left onto Finch. After a short downhill, shift to a low gear at you will start climbing a series of switchbacks up the hill. Bear right on Rambler, but turn left onto Ohlone (this is a small opening). You can go straight down, but I think it is more fun to traverse the switchbacks on this trail. At the end of Ohlone, go left on Chaparral. At the end of this, turn right onto John Brooks and then bear right onto Berry which will take you out past the lake, where you can rejoin Lake Road (to the right) to return to the starting point. You can't get too lost and there are maps and sign posts located around the park.

There are several fun things to look for in Waterdog:

  • There are at least 4 nice switchback sections of trail in the park. This is good practice and the trails can be ridden in either direction for different effect.
  • There is a mostly-buried car on one of the trails (it might be a '57 Pontiac, but it is very hard to tell). The daring can try to go over using a sketchy looking board to get on top. You can do it...really!
  • There is a wood platform through the middle of a tree on one of the trails. It is not too hard to handle if you carry some speed into it, but you can tip over if you stall in the middle of it. There is also a path around it if you aren't up to it.
  • There are a few places where you need to cross a narrow wooden walkway, a board over a culvert, or other minor stunts. These are not too hard.
  • On Berry there is a small wooden bridge with a tight 90 degree turn in it that empties to a downhill over some roots and then a short but steep drop when you return the to lake. The only thing it takes is courage to ride the bike down and point it in the right direction. Lots of people get intimidated the first time, but this is actually harder. For fun, you should see if you can make it up this slope from the lake side.

There are 2 things to look out for in Waterdog:

  • The trails are narrow and twisty, so watch for people coming the other way. Your courtesy is almost always returned, making a better ride for everyone.
  • Poison Oak! It is all over the park. Staying in the center of the trail usually (but not always) keeps you out of harm's way, but a crash or unplanned dab will result in a good scrubbing with Tecnu.

As you can see from the elevation profile, there are lots of ups and downs in this small park. This means you can get a pretty good workout in a very compact area even through you won't have high mileage. Of course, you could connect several trails to make multiple loops. This is a fun ride because of all the challenges in such a small space. The City of Belmont has done a great job in working with the mountain bike community to create and maintain this park.

If you need some extra mileage (Waterdog distance is not that high due to its compact size), you can easily connect to Sawyer Camp to build your distance without doing too much to your total ascent.

There are a few places on Alameda del las Pulgas (Avenue of the Fleas) to grab a bite, but we usually head down to Auziello's Tavern for a but of classic pub food and refreshment.  If you need parts or repairs, the highly recommended Passion Trail Bikes is just across the railroad tracks.

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