DIY Hike: Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area, Fremont
Named for the quarries that once supplied gravel for the transcontinental railroad, Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont today is an oasis for people and birds. The 462-acre park offers hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking as well as boating and swimming in the lakes that now fill the old quarry pits. For fishing enthusiasts, Horseshoe Lake is stocked with trout and catfish.
Parking at the main entrance for a $5 fee puts you close to the swimming and picnic areas, volleyball courts and restrooms. Alternatively, you can park at the Isherwood staging area for free, stroll about a half mile along the Alameda Creek Trail and enter Quarry Lakes through a gate.
With many clearly marked trails encircling the lakes, you can make up your own walk. If you go through the main entrance, obtain a map there. BART trains will be visible from many of the trails, reminding you of the urban setting of this recreation area.
This walk lets you see many of the sites of Quarry Lakes – both the tamer and the wilder. Pick up Old Creek Trail near the boat launch. You will see plenty of picnic tables and Canada geese with, perhaps, an occasional jackrabbit hopping by. The trail soon threads a narrow path with Rainbow Lake on one side and Horseshoe Lake on the other. Fishing is permitted in both lakes. The triangular top of Mission Peak provides a backdrop.
Turn right to walk around Willow Slough on the Wood Duck Trail. The slough and Lago Los Osos are the wilder areas of Quarry Lakes, with no fishing or swimming permitted. You may see raptors overhead and colorful wood ducks, herons and egrets in the ponds with swallows and red-winged blackbirds flitting by. Rest at a scenic bench at the water’s edge. At the end of Willow Slough, a gate leads out of Quarry Lakes to the Alameda Creek Trail, which extends eastward all the way to Niles Canyon and westward to Coyote Hills and the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.
Completing your circuit of the slough, turn right to rejoin Old Creek Trail. Now you pass along Lago Los Osos. Notice the wood duck nesting boxes placed around the lake. A large island in the middle is home to many bird species.
Turn left at Western Pacific Trail, parallel to the BART tracks. You will shortly come to a narrow peninsula jutting into Horseshoe Lake, home to the rare fruit grove. Right now, the fruit trees are quite small, but with a little imagination, you can picture the mature grove laden with guavas, figs, loquats and star fruit. Return to Western Pacific Trail to complete your circuit.
Good to know
Parking is $5 per car at the main gate. Additional charges are $2 per dog, $1 per windsurf board, $2 per child or senior for beach access, and $3 per adult for beach access. A fishing license is required for those 16 and older plus a $5 fishing access permit. You can obtain the permit at the main entry area or from a dispenser at the entry gate off the Alameda Creek Trail. Dogs must be on leash at all times and are not permitted in the water.
By BART and bike or foot, take BART to the Union City Station. From the station, go straight ahead to Union Square and turn left. Cross Alvarado Niles Boulevard and turn left again. Once you pass Osprey Drive, make the first right through a gate onto a paved trail. (This is called Fox Avenue, but it is unsigned and is not an avenue.) Continue on Fox until it ends at a locked gate (prohibiting vehicles). Go through the opening and into Quarry Lakes. The distance is roughly a mile and a quarter.
By car, from Interstate 880, take the Decoto Road exit (exit 21) and go east on Decoto. Turn right onto Paseo Padre Parkway and then left onto Isherwood Way. To park in the Isherwood staging area, make an immediate right into the staging area parking lot. To park at the main entrance, continue for about half a mile and turn right into the park.
Photos: Don Debold via Flickr