Hiking Lake Del Valle
It was a weekend in June, and Jeremy and I had a desire to take Zero for a hike. If the weather is too hot to hike where we are, we’ll venture south or east for a coastal walk. We often find ourselves at Mt. Tamalpais or in Pacifica, but today was special. Today the weather forecasted to only get to 70 degrees, which meant it was the perfect conditions to go for a hike in our own backyard. We decided to take a drive out past Livermore to Lake Del Valle. Jeremy knew the area well, having hiked it a lot with his boy scout troop when he was younger. But this would be mine and Zero’s first time. According to All-trails, it’s a moderate hike of about 5 miles, with less than 1,000 feet of elevation climb. I was game for the opportunity to get out into the sunshine.
We parked in the parking lot and quickly realized not only did we forget Zero’s water bowl, but we forgot his leash too! Jeremy’s quick thinking and perpetual boy scout preparedness meant we had some rope in the back of the car. He fastened a makeshift leash for Zero’s harness, and off we went. The hike starts with a slow ascent into the hills surrounding the long skinny lake. We found ourselves on a wide dirt path, covered in horseshoe imprints and cow pies varying in freshness. It was at this time that I realized the hike was on a live cow pasture.
Even though it was summer, the surrounding hills hadn’t yet turned golden. As we walked, the warm breeze carried the acrid scent of cows. There’s always that moment when you first smell the cow pies when you scrunch up your nose. You might even cover your nose in hopes of muffling the smell. Eventually, you give in, and your olfactory senses get used to it, and you finally forget about it. I kind of enjoy those first few minutes when I’m presently aware that I’m outside near livestock. I feel somehow more connected to my environment.
We eventually happened upon a bench overlooking the lake. We sat and enjoyed the scene for a few moments before pressing on. The path meanders through the hills with very little shade. My sweatshirt soon came off and remained around my waist for the entirety of the hike. Zero hiked on, happy to be outside, pulling and eager to gulp up as many cow pies as he could sneak as we walked.
Toward the end of the hike, we happened upon a herd of cows. We did our best to walk slowly and quietly so as not to spook them. Zero huffed at them suspiciously from afar, unsure of what he was looking at. I like to think his primal instincts to herd were just coming out.
We eventually make it back to the car, tired and satisfied. We lifted a pooped Zero into the back of the car and drove toward home, stopping to get some much deserved smoothies first. If you’re ever in the eastbay and looking for a dog friendly hike, Lake Del Valle is definitely a fun one. I wouldn’t recommend it right after a rain, as the trail could get really muddy. Come prepared to get up and close with cows and to have to hopscotch over cow pies. It’s all part of the experience, so just relax and enjoy!