A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.
- Directions: From Interstate 15 southbound: take Mira Mesa Boulevard east, turn right on Scripps Ranch Boulevard, then left on Scripps Lake Drive. The reservoir entrance will be on your left. From Interstate 15 northbound: take Carroll Canyon Road east, turn left on Scripps Ranch Boulevard, then right on Scripps Lake Drive. The reservoir entrance will be on your left.
- Free Hours: 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM and beginning March 10th 5:30 AM to 8:00 PM
- Best For: Bicycling, walking, running, chatting with a friend, enjoying a cool breeze.
Nestled comfortably below hillsides topped with the suburban dream, Lake Miramar (officially Miramar Reservoir) is a great place for getting some fresh air and exercise. The lake is ringed by a 5 mile paved two-lane road that is great for bicycles, roller skates, shoes, feet, or other methods of non-combustion modes of travel. The portion of the trail atop the dam, on the west side of the lake, was closed for security reasons after September 11, 2001 but reopened in 2007. The ability to complete a full loop of the lake is far more enjoyable than an out-and-back journey. This remains the case at similar sized Lake Murray in Santee which also had a portion of the lakeside path closed after September 11, 2001 and remains closed to the public. Lake Murray does have a better selection of ducks to watch, but will be considered a second-class recreation option in my book until the full loop is restored.
The day I headed to the lake to explore was a sunny Super Bowl Sunday and there were many people of all ages enjoying the beautiful weather. A number of children on bicycles were accompanied by parents or grandparents and groups of joggers ran together talking along the way. The west and south-west portions of the lake descend to valleys below, with the remaining sides rising up steep hillsides. The result is a cool breeze coming in from the west and combining with the cool lake air to produce an unexpected crispness.
On the east end of the lake, atop the hillside, there is a playground and park that offers views of the entire lake and farther to the west. There are rough, rocky trails leading down to the paved path so you can use the small parking lot next to the playground in addition to the large primary parking lot on the south side of the lake.
My visit to Lake Miramar was greatly enjoyable and even had me reconsidering my aversion to moving to the suburbs. Living next to a lake, with a path? Having a larger house resplendent in stucco and tile roof? Of course, after my next visit to Ocean Beach these thoughts were banished from my mind. For me, even brief consideration of such a move is a strong indicator of the peace and relaxation available at this great public resource.
Bonus Beer: Located two short miles from Lake Miramar is the main brewery of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. The tasting room has a wide assortment of taps and pints are offered, as well as smaller tasters and growler fills. There are also brewery tours available at Ballast Point which I wrote about in a previous article. The outdoor patio and seating is perfect for enjoying a pint after a workout and Ballast Point always has some interesting beers on tap including varieties flavored with peppermint, serrano chiles, coffee, and many other ingredients. Ballast Point is located at 10051 Old Grove Road, San Diego, CA 92131.
Bonus Books: The Scripps Miramar Ranch branch of the San Diego library system is within spitting distance of Lake Miramar so if you need a good read for your visit you can stop there first and then enjoy some shaded or sunny reading during your visit. Library address is 10301 Scripps Lake Drive, San Diego, CA 92131.