Splash into Summer and Swim at the Parks

by Beverly Lane

East Bay Regional Park District is splashing into summer, with lifeguard service available at lots of district lakes and pools.

Altogether the park district operates 10 guarded swim facilities, plus two beaches on San Francisco Bay where no lifeguard service is provided.

Three good places for swimming and other activities are Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area in Walnut Creek, Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch, and Lake Anza at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley.

Castle Rock, located at the end of Castle Rock Road past Northgate High School, has a 30 by 70 foot swimming pool in a grove next to picnic areas and ball fields. Lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays through Sept. 18, and Thursdays and Fridays from June 16 to Aug. 19. The changing rooms and pool are disabled accessible.

There’s a pool access fee of $3.50 for ages 16 through 61; $2.50 for ages 1 through 15, seniors and disabled; and free for infants under a year old. Cash or check only, no bills over $20.

As with all park district swim areas, lifeguard service depends on staff availability, weather, water quality and level of patronage.

Before or after your swim, you can picnic, play ball, and hike or bike on the shady Stage Road Trail, which follows Pine Creek up the canyon towards Mt. Diablo, with spectacular views of the Castle Rocks. It all makes for a very pleasant day’s outing.

Contra Loma Regional Park is located at the end of Frederickson Lane off Golf Course Road in Antioch. The park has a swim lagoon and concession stand located next to Contra Loma Reservoir; there’s no swimming in the reservoir itself. The lagoon includes a sandy beach and wading area for smaller children. There’s a disabled accessible lift into the swim lagoon.

Lifeguard service is on weekends and holidays through Sept. 18, weekdays as well through Aug. 19.

There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Swim lagoon fees are $3 for ages 16 through 61, $2 for ages 1 through 15, seniors and disabled; and free for infants under one year old. Cash or check only, no credit cards accepted.

Besides the swim lagoon, Contra Loma has picnic areas, fishing in the reservoir – which is stocked with trout and catfish, and a boat launch ramp for electric motor boats.

There’s a mostly flat, scenic walking trail around the reservoir. And Contra Loma is adjacent to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, which has miles of hiking trails. It gets hot at Contra Loma in the summer, so you might want to plan your hike in the morning before your swim.

Lake Anza is located on Lake Anza Road off Tilden’s Central Park Drive, near the merry-go-round. Swim fees and hours are the same as at Castle Rock. Lifeguard service is daily through Sept. 9, then on weekends and holidays through Sept. 18.

Tilden offers a myriad of other attractions besides swimming: the Environmental Education Center, a botanic garden, a steam train, picnic areas, and miles of trails for hiking and riding.

Another district swim area is Little Hills Picnic Ranch on Bollinger Canyon Road in San Ramon. This park is available for group picnics by advance reservation only.

For more complete information on swimming opportunities in the East Bay Regional Parks, visit the district web site at www.ebparks.org. Click on “Activities” on the left side of the home page, then click on “Swimming” and again on “Swim Facilities.”

Here are some safety tips to remember when you go swimming:

  • Know your level of swimming ability and stay within it.
  • No alcoholic beverages, dogs, glass containers, fishing or barbecues are allowed in the swim areas. Swimming and alcoholic beverage consumption are a bad mix anyway.
  • Children must be supervised by a responsible adult, which means under your watchful eye at all times. If lifeguards see a young child who appears to be unaccompanied, they will remove the child from the water and look for the parents.
  • Be sure to have adequate sun protection. Sunburn can ruin an otherwise enjoyable day.
  • Please follow any instructions from lifeguards, rangers, police or firefighters, especially in an emergency.

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