Ann Sieck wants to make sure people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, can find parks and trails they can enjoy.
A glossy 30-inch rattlesnake sliding irritably into dry grasses surprised us just as noise from a pump at the "chlorinated swimming lagoon" a quarter mile away made the lakeshore path feel less than natural. This park's 80-acre reservoir amid oak-dotted hills south of Antioch is a busy place in summer, where a rattlesnake might have trouble getting a nap, but we met few people on a warm Monday in May as we walked around the lake. Two cormorants stretched in the sun on a float in the lake, while meadowlarks fluted in the hills. Grebes, ducks, and a great blue heron foraged in the reedy shallows where a few determined humans were also fishing.
The lake holds reserve drinking water, so swimming is restricted to the artificial lagoon, open daily in summer, in the ample poplar-shaded picnic grounds that form a startling green island on the south shore. The reservoir is open to boats up to 20 feet long (no gasoline engines), and sailboards may be rented (stiff winds off the Delta rake the water). At 776 acres, Contra Loma has little to offer hikers beyond the easy 2 mile stroll around the lake or quick climbs to adjacent ridges, but the Lakeview and Old Homestead trails cross into the much larger Black Diamond Mines Preserve to the southeast. When you get back from a long hike and history lesson there, an afternoon swim will be very welcome!
Details: there’s a parking fee and additional fees for dogs, boating, windsurfing, swimming, and fishing. The swimming lagoon has a lift for ADA access.
Description partly first published in the July 2007 issue of Bay Nature magazine