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    Lake Merritt Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    Very Easy
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    5.1 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    15 m
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    Directions to Trailhead
    Lake Merritt Hike

    The Lake Merritt Hike is a wonderful urban walk in Oakland, CA. Wander around the perimeter of the shimmering tidal lagoon and enjoy the encompassing gardens at your leisure. This revered route is family-friendly and accessible, attracting adventurers of all skill levels and ages year-round.

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    Route Description for Lake Merritt Hike

    Indulge yourself in the beauty of the natural sanctuary situated between the busy city of Oakland. The Lake Merritt Hike is an epic trail that can be enjoyed by adventurers of all sorts, including hikers and bikers, and is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Due to its location in the city center, this trail is highly trafficked year-round, so expect to share the route. Those driving to Lake Merritt Lake will have to park along the street as there is no designated parking lot for the hike—note that most of these spots are paid.

    Yielding an abundance of adventure opportunities, Merritt Lake is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The wonderful nature trail traces the shoreline of the tidal lagoon, boasting wonderful scenes of the cityscape in the backdrop. Exhibiting a diversity of flora and fauna, this route offers the opportunity to hike amongst Canadian geese, herons, and pelicans, as well as an abundance of vegetation in the themed gardens on the Northshore. Revel in the beauty of the landscape, and be sure to take the time to read the interpretive signs that detail the area’s history, ecology, and wildlife.

    Embark on your adventure along the Lake Merritt Trail from Lakeshore Avenue. Though this route can be explored from either direction, we chose to venture counterclockwise. Setting out from the trailhead, veer right and wander the shoreline path northeast. Admire the scene of the shimmering lake in the foreground of the city, and you will eventually reach the Pergola. Enjoy the beauty of the historic structure before exiting into the bird sanctuary.

    Here, you will notice several small artificial islands intended for wildlife refuge in the lagoon. Keep your eyes peeled for ducks, geese, herons, eagles, and egrets. This section of the route will likely be the busiest as you pass the Lakeside Garden Center and Fairyland. If time permits, explore the attractions and make your way down to the sandy beach before continuing your lakeside walk. Follow the trail as it reroutes you south, meandering along the western shoreline. Signaling the near end of your adventure, you will reach the impressively beautiful Cameron Stanford House. Appreciate the charm of the Victorian Mansion, then cross the bridge over the Channel, back to the trailhead.

    Trail Highlights

    Lake Merritt

    Lake Merritt is a tidal lagoon in Oakland, California—boasting a natural oasis in an urban setting. This wonderful sanctuary was the United States’ first official wildlife refuge, designated in 1870. Lake Merritt was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Encompassing 140 acres, the shimmering lake is adorned with artificial islands intended for wildlife refuge, and the grassy lakeshore is surrounded by a multitude of themed gardens beckoning exploration.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long is the trail around the perimeter of Lake Merritt?

    The Lake Merritt Trail is a 5.1 km circuit hike in Oakland, CA.

    Where do you park when hiking the Lake Merritt Trail?

    There is no designated parking for the Lake Merritt Hike, explorers are encouraged to park streetside.

    Are dogs allowed at Lake Merritt?

    Yes, dogs are welcome on leash along the Lake Merritt Trail.

    Insider Hints for Lake Merritt Hike

    • Head out to Lake Merritt for a perfect lunch-time breath of fresh air
    • Explore at night to enjoy the scene of the city lights
    • Keep your distance from geese and ducks
    • If you have a valid license, fish along the shoreline
    • If time permits, explore the Lakeside Gardens and Fairyland
    • Grab a coffee at MoJoe Cafe after your walk

    Getting to the Lake Merritt Hike Trailhead

    Though you can access this trail in a multitude of different ways, we accessed the Lake Merritt Hike via Lakeshore Avenue.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


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    Lake Merritt Hike Elevation Graph

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