Lake Chabot - Kayaking

A self-supported trip created by pierreEJ316

Trip Overview

Lake Chabot is a convenient location for some leisurely kayaking, depending on your gear or if you're renting. I have a foldable touring kayak that fits into an inlet pack, so I usually hike in from Lake Chabot road (the parking lot is $6, street parking is free). It can be a bit of a walk, especially if you have less portable gear. The nice thing for me is that there's not a whole lot of people who launch their own stuff (because of the hassle of carrying it all in). There's a lot of beginners who are renting kayaks, and they usually don't go out too far from the boat launch area, so I find that I have a lot of areas all to myself.

My favorite spot to go is the northern-most part of the lake where Grass Valley Creek joins. Very peaceful in the morning. It's about a 2 mile paddle from the launch area.

One tougher aspect here is there are not a whole lot of reliable shores to beach on. A lot of it is restricted, and most of it is incredibly rocky (which is a deterrent for my gear). However, there is one point about a mile north of the boat launch called Alder's Point that is not at all rocky and a great spot to pull up and take a break. It has a dock that is totally out of the water (one of several throughout the lake) with a couple of benches that offer great vista views of the lake. There are also a few locations that have small bathrooms reachable from the shore ... but again, these places can be a bit rocky, so use your best judgment.

The perimeter of the Lake is around 5.25 miles, and there's a lot to explore. Since it's so close to the bay area, you usually have good reception no matter where you are, and there are paths all along the western and southern shores, so you're not really isolated.

All in all, its a great place to explore, for beginners, intermediate kayakers, and experts who want a leisurely and local morning adventure.

Safety Notes

Warnings for some harmful levels of algae blooms, and with low water level conditions, there's definitely some solid green areas. Don't swim or drink and clean your fish well.

Gear Notes

Suitable for pretty much anything. If you want to do a thorough exploration of the lake, you might benefit from some longer-distance gear, but anything should be fine. I go here often for some practice and exercise between longer coastal trips and I'll usually have my touring kayak.

Side benefit is a convenient outdoor sink on the way to a parking lot. It's for gutting fish, but it's large enough to fit an inlet kayak. Great to be able to rinse it down on-site.


Calm waters, mild weather. I find that the mornings are frequently overcast and foggy, which I like. The east part of the lake where San Leandro Creek joins gets very shallow at points, so watch out ... but it's also where you can find a good concentration of pelicans, ducks, etc.

Portage Notes

The boat launch is tough to reach. I have a foldable kayak that fits into a backpack for inlets, but if you're carrying a standard kayak I'd consider a boat dolly. From Lake Chabot street parking, it's about a >1.25 mile walk. Maybe 0.5 - 0.75 mile from the parking lot, depending on your spot.

It's $4 for a boat inspection fee that you only have to pay for every 30 days, but they need to inspect your boat each time. Once you're set up at the launch area just go to the office. Can be a wait, as this is a frequent location for first-time boaters who are renting, and they often don't have enough front desk personnel. Getting there early in the AM is your best bet. Save that paper they give you too ... if you want to come again in the next 30 days.

The boat launch itself is in poor shape, to say the least. The dock doesn't reach the water anymore, and it is pretty rocky. The cement ramp terminates before the waterline, so be extra careful with inflatable kayaks.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 8/7/2021
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Number of Portages: 1

Trip Location