Water Dog Lake

Water Dog Lake is a bit of nature in Belmont’s backyard, literally. Even though the trail runs behind apartment buildings, there is an abundance of wildlife. On my most recent trek, I saw a rattlesnake and several bunnies. This is also mountain lion territory, and while sightings are extremely rare mountain lions have been spotted on the trail.

There are always a lot of happy hiking dogs on the trail and some even get to take a dip in the pond (although you should watch out for mossy water that can make dogs sick!). This route consists of two loops, but you can easily customize the hike to make the route longer or shorter. Large Oak trees shade the inner loop (Water Dog Lake Loop Trail) as it follows the shoreline of Water Dog Lake in the lower canyon. The outer loop (Lake Loop Trail and John Brooks Trail) gets a fair bit of sun and can get quite hot in the summer months. While portions of the outer loop are shaded, the majority of the trail does not have shade.

While the Lake Loop Trail can be crowded, most people don’t hike the full loop. If you continue the loop to John Brooks Trail and the Berry Trail you will be rewarded with solitude. Adventurers are rewarded and if you search a bit you just might find an old abandoned car on a small, unmarked trail just past the John Brooks Trail and Berry Trail junction.

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The Trailhead

Located at 2400 Lyall Way, just past the intersection of Lake Rd., the trailhead is located between two apartment buildings. The trail is well-signed and easy to spot, just look for the “dirt driveway” with the gate.

The Route

The route consists of two loops. Take the Lake Loop Trail to the Water Dog Lake Loop Trail. After completing the first loop, get back on the Lake Loop Trail and head left to the Hallmark Drive trailhead. To complete the larger loop, instead of heading back the way you came, take the John Brooks Trail to the Berry Trail before meeting up with the Lake Loop Trail again and heading back to the original trailhead.

Link to Map:

Belmont’s city government page has a great map of the canyon, including alternate trailheads.

Other Details

Trail Safety

Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.

Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.

Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!

For more dog-friendly trails near San Francisco check out our list of the

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