It was during one of those sweltering September heat waves that the Clog discovered the magic of Lake Anza. You know, those scorching weeks that make you doubt everything you’ve learned about Berkeley? Like, if the specific heat of water is so high, why isn’t the bay cooling you down? And if every undergrad pays at least $14,000 per year to study here, why doesn’t the air conditioning ever seem to work in 155 Dwinelle? Walking, thinking, exercising and sleeping in this heat for prolonged periods of time can make the sanest person crazy.
Luckily, Tilden Park surprised us with a tantalizing, brain-restoring escape from Berkeley’s fever. Only a 10-minute drive from campus, Lake Anza’s quiet beach and cool waters can be restorative and invigorating for any Cal student. Nestled within tree-covered hillsides, this serene oasis equally welcomes badass lap swimmers and frolicking enthusiasts. Even if you’re afraid of cold water, you can circumnavigate your friends’ teasing by taking the scenic Lake Anza Trail; after all, you could argue, splashing around with the ducks is much less aerobically challenging than hiking.
It’s not every day that you get to feel sand between your toes at Berkeley. Or the cool embrace of nonchlorinated water. Floating in the middle of Lake Anza, we hope that you enjoy the immersive natural beauty of this aquatic gem; who knows, maybe you’ll even recover your sanity after a broiling week in Berkeley.
Whether you charge unrelentingly into the water or just dip your toes in, Lake Anza offers something for all of us. Under a mile in length, the Lake Anza Trail tours the water’s perimeter and provides nonswimmers with extensive views of the lake. The sandy beach and grass lawn at the lake’s entrance are coveted picnic territories, and if you manage to dodge weekend crowds, the shores of Lake Anza are perfect for studying or sunbathing. There’s a designated lap-swim area for anyone who is tired of staring at the bottom of Spieker Pool, and if you’re reckless enough to venture out of the buoyed recreational area, there’s a 15-foot outcrop of boulders suitable for jumping (although a park ranger may yell at you).
Driving to Lake Anza and parking in the adjacent lot is the easiest way to reach this natural gem. Ascend Shasta Road, and turn left onto Wildcat Canyon Road. After driving a little under a mile, take a slight right onto Central Park Drive and take the hairpin turn onto Lake Anza Road in a quarter-mile. Park in the lot (one of the few free ones in Berkeley) and walk through the gate if it’s open. You can also get pretty close to Lake Anza without a car by riding AC Transit and getting off at Tilden’s Brazilian Building, and there’s always the option of running or biking here (but only for the brave!).
Enjoy your adventures; we dare you to take this plunge!