San Francisco Chronicle

Lake Temescal offers 2 sides of outdoor fun

- By Stephanie Wright Hession Stephanie Wright Hession is an arts, culture and travel writer and photograph­er. Instagram: @stephaniew­righthessi­on Blog: www.bayareaart­

Not far from the rush of traffic on Highways 24 and 13, swimmers take to the cool waters of Lake Temescal and beachgoers lounge on its sandy shore. The lake started as a water source for Oakland after hydraulic engineer Anthony Chabot constructe­d a dam there in 1868. Later it became one of the East Bay Regional Park District’s first parks, opened as the Temescal Regional Recreation Area in 1936.

Today, the 13-acre lake features two entrances leading to distinct landscapes. On the north side, an amble on the paved Dam Trail provides views of the water where great blue herons and snowy egrets wade among the reeds. Anglers stand on wooden docks nearby and cast their lines in hopes of snagging rainbow trout, largemouth bass and other fish.

The Temescal Beach House, perched above the swim area, dates to the 1940s, when Civilian Conservati­on Corps and Works Progress Administra­tion workers used materials from the Caldecott Tunnel project to create a two-story building with three arches. The interior includes the Lakeview and Fireside rooms, a rustic stone fireplace, wood beam ceilings and a bank of windows. Out back, a flagstone patio accented with a verdant garden and an adjacent waterfall creates an enchanting site for couples to exchange their wedding vows. Swimmers can also use the beach house changing rooms and showers.

The forested south side of Lake Temescal features redwood trees, a tunnel, parking area and a series of trails — the Oak Bay, West and East Shore trails. The Oak Bay Trail, a dirt path lined with ferns, climbs up and then descends to connect with the Dam Trail. The West Shore trail, also dirt, runs along the water, and the paved East Shore Trail meanders past the Temescal Beach House, the swim area and beach.

Temescal Regional Recreation Area: North entrance at 6500 Broadway and south entrance at 6502 Broadway Terrace, Oakland. Park hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. unless posted otherwise. Entrance gates open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (parking fees apply when kiosk is attended). Beach access fees: free to $3. Cash or check only. Reserved picnic areas include Big Rock, North Temescal, Park View and Stream Side, with barbecues and drinking fountains. (510) 652-1155.

 ?? Photos by Stephanie Wright Hession / Special to The Chronicle ??
Photos by Stephanie Wright Hession / Special to The Chronicle
 ??  ?? Oakland’s Lake Temescal features two entrances that lead to two distinct landscapes.
Oakland’s Lake Temescal features two entrances that lead to two distinct landscapes.

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