I’m not sure whether to categorize this trip as a Sunday Drive or Off the Beaten Path because it was actually both.
It WAS a Sunday drive and it WAS off the beaten path so I guess I will call this one “A Sunday Drive off the Beaten Path.”
We heard about this lake when our staff activity arranger JoJo, fished there as part of a special nighttime fishing derby. At night you couldn’t see how big this lake really was so it was time for a day trip!
Far off of the beaten path and by that I mean the 215 Freeway, the drive takes you quite a few miles until you finally reach the entrance to the lake near the city of Hemet.
The lake is actually a reservoir and no swimming is allowed. I used to think they didn’t want our yucky bodies in the water, but in fact reservoirs have various safety reasons not to allow swimming.
However, to cool you off, The Diamond Valley Aquatic Center sits right below the hill that takes you up to the lake and is equipped with a water slide, water fountain sprayers, and plenty to do for the whole family to cool off on those warm valley days.
Nearby, the Western Science Center was built and features exhibits or artifacts found during the construction of the lake.
Diamond Valley Lake (also known as The Diamond), is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in Southern California. It has a capacity of 800,000 acre feet, 260 ft deep, and with over 4,500 surface acres. It holds enough water to meet the area’s emergency drought needs for at least six months. The lake features three earth filled dams located on either side of the valley and one on the north side.
A Big Lake with a Big View
On this bright and sunny Sunday, the air temperature was a perfect 82 degrees with mild winds skimming across the water surface.
So what is this lake/reservoir all about, what is there to do? That is exactly what we wanted to find out.
We drove up to a sizable parking lot and then headed to the only building in sight which turned out to be home to a store and where you can sign in to rent boats.
We didn’t expect that they would have anything to rent but they did in fact have two pontoon boats available. This was too much boat for the two of us so we decided to just walk around and view the lake.
The rental prices aren’t bad and you can check out a few different fishing boats or the eight passenger pontoons. I suggest getting reservations, though, as they are scooped up pretty fast.
Parking for the day is $9.00 and a fishing access permit is $6.00.
There is Nothing like a Lake
The actual lake/reservoir took me aback as I was surprised on how large it was! It spanned as far as you could see and had a beautiful blue tint.
During my short hike on the trail, all you could hear was the rhythmic sound of water lapping against the shore while the majestic blue of the lake provided eye candy for the soul. I tried to capture the water splashing sound on my video camera, but all you could hear was the wind.
As it was the sunniest part of the day, the lake shone bright with the wind causing a thousand small white caps on the surface which made them look like shimmering diamonds. For a brief moment I thought that this might be why they call it Diamond Valley Lake, but that is not why. It is actually a coincidence though, as the lake is named after where it is located, in the Domenigoni/Diamond Valleys, not because if its appearance.
You can’t drive around this lake so, no motor vehicles are allowed on the trails. The marina and the store are the only places to park your car. They have seating and tables under a cool tarp where you can kick back and get a full view of the water below and beyond.
The view from the shaded tables
The wide and well-maintained trails are the only way to see more of the lake by walking, hiking, or bicycles and the north trail allows horseback riding. Or hike down to a few small beaches or rocky areas for shore fishing.
In the spring I am told that the wildflowers are a spectacular sight around the surrounding hills so I think I will be coming back.
After I got home, I researched the place and discovered that it is one of the best spots to fish in California. On Google images, I saw some photos of fisherman pulling in enormous fish that were the size of small children, and they were no joke! The lake is home to Striper, Pan fish, Catfish, Large Mouth Bass, and Trout among others.
Now that I finally was able to see Diamond Valley Lake, I was most impressed with the overall beauty of the reservoir itself. It isn’t a touristy place with restaurants and shops, it’s for boating, fishing, hiking, walking, bicycling, and picnicking. So if you like any of these things, this is the place for you.
Three lakes in a row I have visited in the past two weeks and I have loved them all. but now… it is time for the coast! Stay tuned for the Pacific Ocean.