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Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

For over 150 years, Lake Merritt has been the center of recreation and community in the city of Oakland. The 155-acre tidal estuary is proudly known as The Jewel of Oakland. Its 3.5-mile perimeter is laced with iconic strings of lights and a paved path for runners and walkers.   

Canada geese take over the lake seasonally because it is a vital stop on the Pacific Flyway. Several man-made islands provide habitat to a variety of birds that can be discovered by visiting the Rotary Nature Center.   

Lake Merritt was the nation’s first official wildlife refuge, dedicated in 1870. Oakland mayor Samuel Merritt donated land for the lake, and a subsequent partial damming deepened the waters and contributed to Lake Merritt’s current form. 

The Lake Merritt Boating Center rents vessels ranging from pedal boats and kayaks to small sailboats. Rentals are available daily from March through October and on weekends from November through February.  Non-motorized private boats are permitted for a $2 fee.

Adjacent attractions include Snow Park, Children’s Fairyland, and Lakeside Gardens.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Community icon. Running path. Boat rentals.

Cons

Crowded. Animal waste. Odor.

Features

ADA accessible
Historically significant
Boat ramp(s)
Bicycling
Marina
Bird watching

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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