Want to teach your kids to fish this summer? Or just take a picnic next to a peaceful body of water? The San Pablo Reservoir’s Recreation Area provides opportunities for Bay Area fishing and hiking, just on the other side of the East Bay hills. The rec area is surrounded by the rolling hills that line the five-mile long reservoir between El Sobrante and Orinda.
When to go: Any time during the year, except November through January when the park is closed to hikers, picnickers, and fisher-people.
How to get there: Just 3 miles south of the turnoff from I-80. Take the San Pablo Dam Road exit.
What to do: There’s no swimming or wading allowed, though motorboats, canoes, and kayaks are. This just might be the place to get your squirmy tots acclimated to sitting still in a canoe before tackling a two-plus hour river ride.
Anyone over 16 must have a valid fishing license in order to drop a line (the waters are stocked with trout), so if you pick up one for yourself, you and your kid are set (there are day and season passes available). Bring your poles and nets!
Where to have lunch: There are two picnic areas, Pines and the less-crowded Oak. Kids can run off their lemonade buzz afterwards on the play structure, or take them on the hiking trail that lines the western end of the reservoir (Old San Pablo Dam Rd.) This 5.5 mile-trail is also a perfect for a stroller walk for those with smaller kids.
How to dress: The bay area is known for it’s fussy weather, so dress for warm weather, but bring a sweater or light jacket just in case.
Cost of trip: Fees vary, but they start at just $2 entry fee per car after 4 p.m. (off-peak sun hour picnics are the best!). All-day entry is $6.50. The reservoir also offers birthday party packages. For more info on fishing on the reservoir and fees, go here.
Bonus: Free fishing days (no license required) for the season fall on July 2 and Sept. 3 this year (2011). Happy fishing!