San Leandro Creek

San Leandro Creek

San Leandro Creek
Arroyo de San Leandro, Rio San Leandro[1]
Name origin: Spanish
Country United States
State California
Regions Alameda County, Contra Costa County
 - left Indian Creek, Moraga Creek, Buckhorn Creek, Kaiser Creek, Miller Creek
 - right Redwood Creek, Grass Valley Creek
City San Leandro, California
 - location east of Oakland, California
 - elevation 1,140 ft (347 m)
 - coordinates  [2]
Mouth San Francisco Bay
 - location near Oakland International Airport
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates  [2]

San Leandro Creek, formerly Arroyo de San Leandro is a 21.7-mile-long (34.9 km)[3] year-round natural stream in Northern California. It flows along the east side of the hills east of Oakland and San Leandro. In the hills, it runs into Upper San Leandro Reservoir and then Lake Chabot, both man-made lakes lying north of the unincorporated town of Castro Valley, California. It then runs through the city of San Leandro and on into San Leandro Bay after crossing Hegenberger Road just north of Oakland International Airport.


  • Watershed 1
  • History 2
  • Ecology 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Although it is channeled and culverted in places, it is remarkable among East Bay streams for being mostly uncovered throughout most of its course. It is joined by Indian Creek then at Upper San Leandro Reservoir it is joined by Moraga Creek, Redwood Creek, Buckhorn Creek and Kaiser Creek, then just below the spillway by Miller Creek. At Lake Chabot in Anthony Chabot Regional Park it is joined by Grass Valley Creek, then descends to San Leandro Bay.[4]

The Redwood Creek tributary is protected by Redwood Regional Park, which contains the largest remaining natural stand of Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) found in the East Bay.[5]

The creek terminates in Arrowhead Marsh, one of the few marshlands left in the East Bay. The marsh formed in San Leandro Bay between 1855 and 1895 from sediments washed down San Leandro Creek during construction of the Lake Chabot dam and also from the logging of the San Antonio Forest.[6]


Rainbow trout species identified
Location 50 yards past Redwood Gate entrance kiosk,
Redwood Regional Park
Designated 1986[7]
Reference no. 970[7]

San Leandro Creek was formerly named Arroyo de San Leandro, likely named by the Spanish for St. Leander, 6th-century archbishop of Seville, "Apostle of the Goths".[1] It was crossed by El Camino Viejo now, State Route 185.

The creek is known for having been the site of the first rainbow trout hatchery in the world, drawing on the locally native variety of the species. The fish raised in this hatchery were sent as far away as New York.[8] Although Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), the landlocked form of steelhead trout, was initially identified in 1792 in Kamchatka, Siberia by Johann Julius Walbaum, William P. Gibbons, founder of the California Academy of Sciences, believed in 1855 that he had discovered a new species of trout in San Leandro Creek, which he named Salmo iridea (now the Coastal rainbow trout subspecies Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus).[5][9] The site was then declared a California Historical Landmark.[7]

In 1874 work began on Lake Chabot Dam and it was completed in 1875, forming a 315-acre lake. Lake Chabot serves as a standby emergency water supply but was opened to limited recreation in the 1960s.[10] Four miles upstream, a second dam built in 1926 formed San Leandro Reservoir.


It sustains the redwood groves in the unincorporated town of Canyon, California and was formerly lined with numerous oaks and willows in its lower course.

Historical records indicate that Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in San Leandro Creek “…in the early days” and “…that after the completion of the Upper San Leandro Reservoir a run still persisted to the base of the dam for many years”. Leidy considered this single historical account of Coho in the creek "reliable...since we believe that suitable habitat was present in the watershed."[13] As mentioned above, Gibbons discovered rainbow trout in San Leandro Creek in 1855. Thus, all three species of Oncorhynchus once inhabited San Leandro Creek.

Today, Lake Chabot's rainbow trout are hatchery fish, but the rainbow trout in San Leandro Reservoir are descended from native steelhead which were trapped when San Leandro Dam was constructed on Redwood Creek in 1926. The San Leandro trout have maintained genetic integrity with native coastal California steelhead since they have not been mixed with hatchery trout, and were used in a 1983 reintroduction of steelhead to Wildcat Creek in Tilden Regional Park.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright (2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 339. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: San Leandro Creek
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 15, 2011
  4. ^ "San Leandro Area Historical Creek Map". Oakland Museum. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  5. ^ a b Redwood Regional Park, East Bay Regional Parks District
  6. ^ Christopher Richard. "Arrowhead Marsh & Lake Chabot". Oakland Museum. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  7. ^ a b c "Rainbow trout species identified". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  8. ^ About Trout: The Best of Robert J. Behnke from Trout Magazine By Robert J. Behnke, Ted Williams
  9. ^ Trey Coombs (1999). Steelhead Fly Fishing. Globe Pequot. p. 5.  
  10. ^ "Lake Chabot Regional Park". East Bay Regional Park District. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  11. ^ Robert A. Leidy (2007-04). Ecology, Assemblage Structure, Distribution, and Status of Fishes in Streams Tributary to the San Francisco Estuary, California (Report). San Francisco Estuary Institute. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  12. ^ Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries of the State of California for the years 1878 and 1879 (Report). San Francisco, California: California Commissioners of Fisheries. 1880.
  13. ^ Robert A. Leidy, Gordon Becker, Brett N. Harvey (2005). "Historical Status of Coho Salmon in the San Francisco Estuary". California Fish and Game: 241. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  14. ^ 2009-06-02. "Lake Chabot Offers Monster Rainbows In The East Bay Hills". The Fish Sniffer. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 

External links

  • Friends of San Leandro Creek
  • Historical watershed map