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Miramar Reservoir

California adolphia found at Lake Miramar is an endangered species.
California adolphia found at Lake Miramar is an endangered species.

The 4.92 mile paved service road has a variety of walkers, joggers, and bicyclists circling the reservoir seven days a week with cars allowed on the road Saturday through Tuesday. The dam and reservoir were finished in 1960 and are owned and operated by the City of San Diego. It is part of the second San Diego Aqueduct project, with water from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. The reservoir’s water-storage capacity is 6682 acre feet. Dogs on leashes are permitted but must remain 50 feet or more from the water at all times.

Bring your binoculars to view cormorants or pelicans competing with anglers for bass, bluegill, or sunfish. Mallards, lesser scaups, redhead, gadwall, northern shovelers, and ruddy ducks are found on the lake, depending on the season. Turkey vultures or hawks can be seen catching the wind currents with the sound of European starlings, California towhee, California quail, and wrentits in the chaparral plants.

Chaparral plants include chamise, black sage, manzanita, monkey flower and California sagebrush, plus species that are hard to spot and rare. These include Zeltnera venusta or canchalagua, which is an annual with pink petals and white centers with yellow anthers. Look closely after pollen is harvested and note that the anthers are shaped like corkscrews. Another species called Adolphia california, spineshrub, or California adolphia is found in San Diego County and listed by the California Native Plant Society as rare, threatened, or endangered in California but is considered common elsewhere. The flower has five triangular petals with small folded petals between each triangular-shaped one.

The name of the reservoir has an interesting history. In 1890, newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps and his philanthropist wife, Ellen Browning Scripps, purchased land in the area now called Scripps Ranch. With no buildings to obstruct the view of Mount Soledad and the Pacific Ocean, the property was given the name Miramar, Spanish for “sea view.” Ellen Browning Scripps supported a multitude of institutions in Southern California, including schools, parks, and hospitals.

Miramar Reservoir is open to fishing and private boats and kayaks from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

  • Distance from downtown San Diego: 17 miles. Allow 25 minutes driving time. (Scripps Ranch) From I-15, exit east on Carroll Canyon Rd. and keep left (north) as the name changes to Scripps Ranch Blvd. Turn right (east) on Scripps Lake Dr. and then left into the parking lot. Restrooms, chemical toilets, water, and picnic areas. Wheelchair accessible. Gates open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Hiking length: 4.92 miles around the lake.
  • Difficulty: Easy and level on either paved road or dirt trail near the shore for a portion of the walk.
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Tennis with François Truffaut and Donal Logue

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California adolphia found at Lake Miramar is an endangered species.
California adolphia found at Lake Miramar is an endangered species.

The 4.92 mile paved service road has a variety of walkers, joggers, and bicyclists circling the reservoir seven days a week with cars allowed on the road Saturday through Tuesday. The dam and reservoir were finished in 1960 and are owned and operated by the City of San Diego. It is part of the second San Diego Aqueduct project, with water from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. The reservoir’s water-storage capacity is 6682 acre feet. Dogs on leashes are permitted but must remain 50 feet or more from the water at all times.

Bring your binoculars to view cormorants or pelicans competing with anglers for bass, bluegill, or sunfish. Mallards, lesser scaups, redhead, gadwall, northern shovelers, and ruddy ducks are found on the lake, depending on the season. Turkey vultures or hawks can be seen catching the wind currents with the sound of European starlings, California towhee, California quail, and wrentits in the chaparral plants.

Chaparral plants include chamise, black sage, manzanita, monkey flower and California sagebrush, plus species that are hard to spot and rare. These include Zeltnera venusta or canchalagua, which is an annual with pink petals and white centers with yellow anthers. Look closely after pollen is harvested and note that the anthers are shaped like corkscrews. Another species called Adolphia california, spineshrub, or California adolphia is found in San Diego County and listed by the California Native Plant Society as rare, threatened, or endangered in California but is considered common elsewhere. The flower has five triangular petals with small folded petals between each triangular-shaped one.

The name of the reservoir has an interesting history. In 1890, newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps and his philanthropist wife, Ellen Browning Scripps, purchased land in the area now called Scripps Ranch. With no buildings to obstruct the view of Mount Soledad and the Pacific Ocean, the property was given the name Miramar, Spanish for “sea view.” Ellen Browning Scripps supported a multitude of institutions in Southern California, including schools, parks, and hospitals.

Miramar Reservoir is open to fishing and private boats and kayaks from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

  • Distance from downtown San Diego: 17 miles. Allow 25 minutes driving time. (Scripps Ranch) From I-15, exit east on Carroll Canyon Rd. and keep left (north) as the name changes to Scripps Ranch Blvd. Turn right (east) on Scripps Lake Dr. and then left into the parking lot. Restrooms, chemical toilets, water, and picnic areas. Wheelchair accessible. Gates open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Hiking length: 4.92 miles around the lake.
  • Difficulty: Easy and level on either paved road or dirt trail near the shore for a portion of the walk.
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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