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Length 7 miles
Time 2.5 hours
Total Climb 1450 feet
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Water Dog (Suggestion 2)

Water Dog Lake Park in Belmont is one of those rarities: An urban park that provides a surprisingly high amount of surprisingly fun singletrack trails for mountain bikers. On top of that, many trails at Water Dog are actually challenging enough to satisfy intermediate and advanced riders as well. (Another surprise!) How many more places can you name, about which the same can be said? And, while the total trail lengths don't exactly add up to an epic amount, if you don't mind a few repeated loops and traversing the same trails in opposite directions here and there, you can string together rides of very satisfying scale in just this little "neighborhood park".

The trails at Water Dog make up a tight mesh. So, there are infinitely many route variations that are possible. This particular ride simply happens to be one of them, without much that is special enough to set it apart from any other ride you can do at Water Dog.

The ride starts out the way I've become accustomed to riding at Waterdog, by entering the park from the trailhead on Lyall Way. What comes first is a very gradual fire road climb. After a sharp left at the crease of the ravine, a series of steeper fire road drops and climbs come next. Then the route enters the "main" network of singletrack trails of the park, in its southeastern half.

This particular route heads all the way to the trailhead at the end of Carlmont Drive first. From there, it takes Canyon Creek Trail, which is a technical singletrack climb that closely follows a creek bed. This is one of my favorite trails in the park. It's one of those climbs that I like because its steepness and technical difficulty is enough to be a juicy challenge for me without being beyond my ability. It's a very picturesque one, too; you weave around rock gardens and edge along the water's path while, most of the time, you're under a low canopy of small trees and chaparral.

The route then traverses the long series of tight switchbacks on Finch Trail in the uphill direction before heading out back in the direction you came from in order to return to the start. Along the way, though, you take Berry Trail as a shortcut to the other side of the valley. Other than being a sweet but (very) short singletrack, the notable feature of Berry Trail is the very short but extremely steep descent of its last few feet. The last 10 or 15 feet of the trail is essentially a "wall" that's probably something like a 45-degree incline. (That's degrees, not "percent grade"...)

© Ergin Guney


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