San Pablo Reservoir
(Kennedy Grove- Bay Area Ridge Trail- Kennedy Grove)
I soooo wanted this to be a cool run. After the surprise of the Briones Reservoir Loop, I had great hopes for San Pablo Reservoir. I had driven by the turnoff from San Pablo Dam Road, it seemed somewhat unknown, it was near a body of water-- it had all the potential for being a great run.
I started out thinking I would go from Kennedy Grove, as it was closer to my house than the San Pablo Reservoir parking lot, and it looked like you could find a trail from Kennedy Grove to the reservoir. Plus, I had pre-birthday celebration plans to eat here, and I wanted the chance to leisurely get ready beforehand.
First issue: as I drove on San Pablo Dam Rd, there was a sign telling me to take a detour to Kennedy Grove at Castro Ranch Rd. For some reason, I thought that the sign would be wrong, and by some inexplicable stroke of good fortune, *I* would be able to park at Kennedy Grove. Guess what? The sign was right. Given that I was on a two-lane fast-moving road, I could not turn around there, so I decided to go on and park at the San Pablo Reservoir lot and run back toward Kennedy Grove.
Second issue: It was impossible to find a place to get a parking permit. Every car I saw had a parking permit, so it's clear they were charging today, but the location was clearly a threat to national security, because it was well-hidden.
After an annoying drive all around the parking lots of San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area, I decided to go back to Kennedy Grove via the detour.
Third issue: finding the Bay Area Ridge Trail in Kennedy Grove. I knew it existed, but finding it was another question entirely. I wandered around for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out where it was, all the time thinking about how my leisurely shower/getting cute to go out time was being sucked away by the lameness of the East Bay Municipal Utilities' District lack of trail markers. I was truly tempted to throw the towel in and head back to my house, but when you have a brilliant dinner ahead of you, il faut en profiter, if you will. I hate, hate, hate eating really good food when I'm not hungry, and I knew if I didn't run, I wouldn't be as hungry as I wanted to be.
For about 1/2 a mile, the trail is a fire road running up the back of the dam and then beside the reservoir. It was pretty. I was starting to hate San Pablo Reservoir a little less, and I was just beginning to enjoy the crimson of the poison oak lining the sides of the road, when suddenly I found myself ON the very road I had spent 20 minutes driving around on in San Pablo Reservoir. Yes, the "trail" on the map was really just the parking road at San Pablo Reservoir. How truly irritating.
Now, think not that I am a person who refuses to run on road. I'm not a huge fan, but if I have a road to run on, well, then, I'll run on it-- but when I was hoping for trail and found out I was running on a parking lot?
I did manage to find a random trail that led through the oak trees (paralleling the road) for about a mile, but that ended soon enough and I found myself back at the picnic area, forced to get back to the parking lot run.
(Random aside: the only other runner I saw today was a man who looked like he was running in his work clothes-- button-down short sleeve shirt, slacks and leather shoes. I wanted to take off my Sauconys and explain to him how much better running could be-- his poor feet! Like I said, this is not exactly the land o' the trail runners...)
Anyway, eventually I gave up parking lot running and ran back to Kennedy Grove, at least a little hungrier for dinner (which was superb, by the way-- one of the best eating experiences I've had in a while-- and I'm pretty fanatical about eating). While there were pretty moments in this run, and I think that both Kennedy Grove and San Pablo Reservoir would be great for picnicing, as a run this was pretty unsatisfying overall. Meh.
Oh yeah-- I think you can take your leashed dog on this run. If you wanted to run in a parking lot, that is.