June 10th, 2010

Water Dog Lake Park, Belmont

Water Dog Lake Park, Belmont

On Sunday D. and I visited Water Dog Lake Park in Belmont. A waterdog, in this case, is not a canine but a type of aquatic salamander (also called a mud puppy), that is said to make a barking sound (myth). Banker William Ralston dammed Belmont Creek to create this lake in the 1860s to provide water for his nearby mansion (now a part of Notre Dame de Namur University). Eventually the city of Belmont created a park around the lake, encompassing a steep, wooded canyon full of live oaks, California buckeye, eucalyptus, sagebrush, toyon, sticky monkeyflower, coyote bush, poison oak and honeysuckle. Once inside the park on the woodsy trails it is easy to forget that there are multi-million-dollar homes just yards away on all sides.

Here's some pics I took.

The view from the Lake Road Trail.

Now a fire road, this trail used to be the main road to Half Moon Bay on the coast.  It was once paved and has sewer manholes surprisingly frequently along its length.

View from the trail.  The East Bay Hills are barely visible on the hazy horizon.

Sticky monkeyflower was blossoming all along the trail.

Blackberry blossom in the dappled shade.

Some of the half-hidden steps leading up from the trail to the back yards of many of the homes perched on the canyon's rim.

Never mind that this gate is unlocked and not even latched shut; the rampant ivy keeps the area behind it all but impassable.

The fantastical shapes of the lichen-festooned live oaks lining most of the trail.

Another view from farther along the trail.

More overgrown, half-hidden steps.

We are making our way down the canyon, getting closer to the lake with every step.

A few more feet and a glimpse of the lake can be seen.

We see a golden retriever swimming in the lake.

We never did see any amphibian waterdogs (the salamander).

The lake and dam.

The Water Dog Lake Loop Trail follows the shoreline through thick woods.

The far end of the lake is choked with cattails.

The existing loop trail is being realigned 15 feet above the high waterline.  Construction is still in progress.

Another green world: Belmont Creek, where it trickles into the lake behind the bed of cattails.

The loop trail peters out at this point, becoming impassable in thick poison oak.

Doubling back along the Water Dog Lake Loop Trail.

Looking east, standing atop the earthen dam, the lake behind me.

Looking down the left spillway channel of the dam into the conduit.

The right channel of the spillway is shared by a large drain conduit coming down the side of the canyon from the residential neighborhood above.

Standing inside the spillway, looking north along the dam.

Looking out along the pier.

Water Dog Lake.

Algae and shimmers.

One of several wood duck nest boxes around the shallow end of the lake.

Lovely Water Dog Lake.