Located on Highway 24 and just one mile from Lafayette BART station, The Lafayette Reservoir is a human-made terminal water storage reservoir owned and operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The construction of the Lafayette reservoir began in 1928 as an earth-filled dam structure. The filling was installed very quickly. This was apparently too fast for the foundation of clay, because as the concrete apron was poured, the foundation began to move downhill. The dam reportedly settled, displacing 200 yards (180 m) from the toe of the dam 26 feet (7.9 m) between September 17 and 21.
The EBMUD engineers had to quickly redesign the project, first by reducing the reservoir capacity to one third of its original design. Then the further construction was delayed by three years, to see whether more settlement would take place. Apparently, the design change was satisfactory, and the dam was completed in 1933.
This year-round, day-use area is ideal for hiking, jogging, fishing, boating and picnicking. Boats can be rented for rowing boats and pedal boats. If you are carrying on your car on top, private rowboats, canoes, kayaks and small sailboats are permitted (no gasoline). Added conveniences are launched docks and a small bait shop. There is a daily fishing fee ($3.00). (Fees cover the expense of stocking angler fish here and at other reservoirs of EBMUD.)
Families, groups and companies can reserve picnic areas for 50 or 200 people. There are many individual tables and barbecues for smaller groups. Two playgrounds provide children with lively fun. The park has toilets and a disabled-access fishing dock with adjacent parking.
The main trail around the reservoir is a 2.7-mile paved trail called the Lakeside Trail; the 4.5-mile Rim Trail is a more challenging dirt hiking trail through the surrounding hills.
The California Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Office (OEHHA) has developed a Lafayette Reservoir advisory for mercury and PCBs found in fish caught here. The advisory provides safe food advice for black bass, rainbow trout, catfish and goldfish.
The daily entrance fee to the park is $6.00 and the hours of operation are from 6:00 a.m. At 9:00 p.m., depending on the season. Discounts for seniors and persons with disabilities are also available.