You might think that Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont is a typical urban park with green lawns, picnic tables, a sandy beach, and lots of water.
You are right so far. It’s a good place for picnicking, non-power boating, and fishing. As with many small lakes in the Bay Area, it was closed to swimming (hopefully temporarily) due to blue/green algae, but you can still enjoy the beauty of several lakes that cover 350 acres.
Quarry Lakes is also a good place to walk, ride a bike, or push a wheelchair. The trails are flat, relatively smooth asphalt or gravel, and easy to follow. Although the trails are not shaded, you can walk off-trail into shade.
Convenient picnic tables, toilets, and water fountains are located at several locations around Horseshoe Lake. It may be too civilized, but it’s comfortable.
The lakes attract many birds, including Canada geese, egrets, and other waterfowl. (More than forty species have been docu-mented.) Unfortunately, the Canada geese have forgotten how to migrate, which means too many for too long. Also, the roar of BART running by next to the park reminds me less of nature and more of Hunger Games.
While hardly experiencing a wilderness, I was startled by the largest rabbit I’ve ever seen. I thought it might be the mythical jackalope, but I didn’t see any antlers so it probably was a giant jackrabbit. I survived, but I was in for more surprises.
A few steps from the parking area, I found the Rose Garden, a virtual wall of flowers within touching distance of a steel fence. As I walked the trail around Horseshoe Lake I saw wildflowers and other interesting plants. In less than a mile, I detoured out onto a peninsula. It was a good move.
The trail led me to the Rare Fruit Grove, a botanical wonderland of exotic trees and bushes from around the world. An information board at the grove entrance displayed three brochures. One listed every plant in the grove with popular and scientific names, a physical description, harvesting period, and uses.
A second pamphlet lists rare sub-tropical fruit trees in the grove and other areas around the park along with maps and GPS coordinates. A QR code links plant locations in Google Maps.
A third piece supplies GPS coordinates and descriptions for conifer trees.
Whether you are a serious botanist or casual gardener, these little brochures are a big help in identifying individual plants. For example, you could compare the Seuri Asian Pear from China with a nearby Atago Asian Pear from Japan. Although many of the plants are exotic, you’ll find popular fruits such as Pink Lady Apples that originated in Western Australia, or French Prunes brought to California during the Gold Rush. It’s a great learning experience, and as a bonus, if the fruit is in season, you are welcome to pick one to taste.
As you continue around the lake, you take Old Creek Trail along a narrow levee that separates Horseshoe, Lago Los Osos, and Rainbow lakes. On the way, you pass Bald Cypress Grove, the Demonstration Garden, and a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier.
The entire loop of about two miles is an easy walk or bicycle ride.
To extend your trip, park trails connect to the Alameda Creek Regional Trail toward Niles Canyon or Coyote Hills and the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.
For a detailed map and more information, visit the East Bay Regional Park District website, and click on Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area.
To reach Quarry Lakes, take Highway 17 north, continue on I-880 to exit 21, and turn right at Decoto Road. Turn right on Paseo Padre Parkway, left to Isherwood Way, and continue via Quarry Lake Drive to the parking booth where you pay $5. The destination is 2100 Isherwood Way, Fremont, California 94536.