The Old San Pablo Trail parallels the San Pablo Reservoir’s southwest coast, which offers access to water recreation facilities and other trails. The path is mostly unpaved road, but with sections of paving. This path is gravel singletrack south of the junction with the Inspiration Trail.

From the south end of this trail, at Orinda Connector, the trail passes between the left of San Pablo Dam Road and the right of the reservoir. It passes the headquarters of EBMUD Watershed (no visitor services) and proceeds to a marina past the foot of the Inspiration Trail (picnic tables and restrooms; no public boating).

This path continues past the foot of the Eagles Nest Trail (Bay Area Ridge Trail) and into the San Pablo Recreation Area along a dirt road (Old San Pablo Dam Road). For information on visitor facilities here, including boat launch, boat rental, fishing, and picnicking, see the San Pablo Reservoir website. With no swimming. Dogs are allowed, on leash, in parking lots on the west side, in picnic areas and paved roads, but not on the street, in boats or in the water.

The Old San Pablo Trail runs parallel to the Old San Pablo Dam Road, which was once the main road through the Valley of San Pablo until the building of the new San Pablo Dam Road. Sign in at the EBMUD kiosk to begin the hike and then zig-zag down the rocky trail into San Pablo Creek’s wooded riparian habitat.

    This amazing attraction is located near the following must-see parks in Orinda, California:

    • Orinda Oaks Park
    • Orinda Community Center Park & Tennis Courts
    • Briones Overlook Staging Area
    • Siesta Valley Recreation Area
    • Seaview Trailhead
    • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve Labyrinth
    • Bear Creek Staging Area
    • Tilden Regional Park

    All of these landmarks are located just a short distance from our location in downtown Walnut Creek, Spaulding Concrete on Locust Street!

    After around 2/10ths of a mile, you’ll hit the Oursan Trail intersection. Before proceeding, You might like going out on the bridge and checking out the creek. One of the main watersheds in the East Bay with 34 named tributaries, the San Pablo Creek flows for 18.7 miles and drains. The creek was dammed to create the San Pablo Reservoir in 1919. You can enter a meadow with large pine trees and a few scattered picnic tables if you continue on the Oursan Trail, which would be a good place for a picnic with children.

    You’ll enter EBMUD Watershed Headquarters within half a mile. If you do not already have one, this is a convenient place to pick up a trail permit. You’ll start enjoying the breathtaking views of the San Pablo Reservoir before long. The East Bay Water Co., a precursor of EBMUD, built the Reservoir in 1919. During the first ten years, the reservoir refused to fill up until they began piping water out of the Pardee Reservoir in the Sierras. It provides water for 20% of EBMUD’s customers today. Ducks and geese wintering here and herons and egrets raising their young along the shores can be seen.

    A mix of oak, Monterey pine, and California bay trees winds through the trail. Old San Pablo Dam Road is 1.7 miles (and about 45 minutes) away.

    If you cross the road, you’ll hit the Inspiration Trail intersection. You can take the path to the left (which is mostly fire roads) for around 2 miles if you are looking for a more rigorous hike, and you can climb up to Inspiration Point (1040 feet of elevation) or you can go right and continue for almost four more miles on the Old San Pablo Trail, past the marina, all the way to the dam and Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area.