Santa Margarita Lake
Paddled Santa Margarita Lake today. Fantastic! On the recommendation of Janice Green, author of Paddle Me California Kayak and Canoe Guidebooks, I made the short drive from Los Osos to Santa Margarita Lake. The lake is 8 miles outside of the town of Santa Margarita, and the drive takes you from Hwy 101 east on Hwy 58 to Pozo road. This is the type of drive that people do (or did before $3 gas) on Sundays to explore scenic rural routes. The weather this day (Veteran's Day 2005) was perfect. A cloudless blue sky, temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s, with a slight breeze that never picked up into anything more.
This lake was great for paddlling! The lake and associated campgrounds were devoid of crowds. I saw no more than a dozen boats on the water, and none of them were jet skis or ski boats. Fishermen and paddlers own this lake, where the speed limit is 30 mph on the water and there are huge fingers of no-wake zones.
The area is very pretty, even in the dried out brown of California winter. The lake is fairly narrow; when you paddle you are never far from the surrounding hills covered with scrub oak forest. Wildlife was plentiful; many water birds including grebes, duck, loons, herons and six white pelicans. I saw several small herds of deer, and am told that bear, mountain lion and fox reside there as well as the ever-adaptable coyotes and a myriad of other creatures indigenous to this area.
I had lunch at one of the two boat-in campgrounds, each of which has about half a dozen tent sites. Every tent site has a barbeque and a picnic table. Both campgrounds have a port-o-potty, and a common fire pit encircled by benches. A floating dock provides access for boaters, and both sites are connected to the trails on the north side of the lake. Looks like a great place to kayak-camp. I plan to return in the late spring, when the entire area will be flowering and green.