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Miramar Lake, perched halfway up the dry hills overlooking Scripps Ranch, Mira Mesa, and the distant coast, was completed in 1960 as part of the second San Diego Aqueduct project. Water flowing south to the reservoir originates from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. As a key component in San Diego's emergency water storage system, the lake is kept nearly full during the warmer and drier months of the year. As a result, there's a palpable cooling effect when the summer breeze blows across the water.

The lake and the city-owned lands around it have long been popular for water-based activities such as boating and fishing, and for more strenuous pursuits such as walking, jogging, biking, and in-line skating. Fishing and boating are permitted only on Saturdays through Tuesdays, from sunrise to sunset. The narrow, paved road following the shoreline of the lake is open to self-propelled travelers seven days a week year-round. Much to the dismay of exercise buffs, a strict closure (for security reasons) of a segment of that road over the top of the Miramar dam was in effect following the events of September 11, 2001. Last month, the closure was lifted, and once again "traffic" was flowing across the dam. The San Diego City Lakes Department describes the rescinding of the closure policy as "tentative."

The reopening of the perimeter road makes the five-mile full-loop journey around the lake much more palatable and less-repetitive than the seven-mile, out-and-back trip travelers have had to put up with for the last several years. Wednesday through Friday you're practically guaranteed a more peaceful exercise experience, since there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the perimeter road on those days.

Condominiums and boxy minimansions have risen like battlements all around Lake Miramar in recent years. The mood has changed from one of remoteness to one of quiet refuge within a spreading suburban milieu. Yet even today there's a reminder of former wildness in the pungent-scented sage-scrub and chaparral vegetation down alongside the perimeter road. Pets are welcome to enjoy the "call of the wild" too, but only if on leash and kept 50 feet or more from the water's edge.

You may call 619-465-3474 for recorded information about Lake Miramar and several other San Diego city lakes.

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