By Donna Polizzi
The central coast is filled with natural treasures, and Santa Margarita Lake is one of them. It’s one of the best things to do on the central coast if you’re a nature lover at heart. Tucked away in the pristine hills of San Luis Obispo County is a little town called Santa Margarita. The quaint little cities along the central coast all have a special characteristic of their own, and Santa Margarita Lake happens to be this small community’s pride and joy.
When you visit the Santa Margarita Lake Natural Area you will see exactly why. With a multitude of permitted activities at this lake, you will not get bored. In the mood for a hike? Santa Margarita Lake has over 20 miles of hiking trails, all leading to breath-taking views of the lake and Santa Lucia Mountain Range that lies east of the Central Coast. Looking for something more challenging? Part of these trails is for backpacking as well. Santa Margarita Lake also invites equestrians to explore its trails and educational field trips for students who want to learn about the ecology and habitats that are in this special area. Water sports like boating or kayaking is perfect during the summertime where the weather gets very warm. But let’s be honest, if you come to this lake unprepared to do any activities, you will still enjoy the views and simply being in its presence.
Bring the family, out and have some lunch on the shore or on the picnic tables. People can bring their mountain bike, and explore parts of the Santa Margarita Lake area on wheels. Santa Margarita Lake is part of the longest river on California’s central coast, the Salinas River. The lake was created in 1941 after the Salinas Dam was built upstream by the Army Corps of Engineers. This allowed the lake to play a huge role during World War II. The dam was built to provide a source of water for the infantry division camp, Camp San Luis Obispo, CA during World War II. Now the lake serves as a drinking water reservoir for the city of San Luis Obispo. This is why you will find that there is no swimming allowed in the lake. The only swimmers allowed are the catfish, rainbow trout, and small and largemouth bass. Yes, there is fishing allowed at this lake, too! Come see what’s buzzing in this lovely little valley located in the San Luis Obispo hills.