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Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

TripBlog
Sep 1, 20201880

Life in Greater Los Angeles means enduring persistent traffic jams, a constant shortage of affording housing, and some 13 million fellow inhabitants. Fortunately, America’s second-largest metropolitan area has plenty in the way of amenities including great weather and a host of fantastic recreation areas easily within reach. In this guide, we’re heading just over the county line to neighboring Ventura to visit the Lake Piru Recreation Area. Set in the Los Padres National Forest next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, Lake Piru is a reservoir lake surrounded by the gorgeous Topatopa Mountains. Boating access, hiking trails, and scenic picnic areas are some of the draws. From the campground at Lake Piru, it’s possible to visit communities throughout the LA Basin including Malibu, Santa Monica, Ventura, and more. Come along as we take a closer look at one of Greater LA’s best recreation areas.

Table of Contents

History
Location and Access
Reservations and Arrival
Camping at Lake Piru
Boating and Fishing at Lake Piru
Additional Places to Visit around Lake Piru

History

Lake Piru takes its name from Piru Creek, which is also its primary outflow channel. In 1955, construction of the Santa Felica Dam along Piru Creek created a large reservoir lake. The dam and surrounding lands are today owned and operated by the United Water Conservation District, which provides neighboring communities with services including groundwater management, flood control, and recreational opportunities. Water from the reservoir at Like Piru drains into the Santa Clara River and out across the Oxnard Plain before reaching the Pacific Ocean. The fertile soils fed by the Santa Clara River support a robust agricultural economy that depends heavily on the waters in Lake Piru. Beyond simply being a great place to enjoy the outdoors, Lake Piru is a critical source for downstream irrigation and other freshwater needs.

Location and Access

Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe

Lake Piru is located just inside Ventura County near Santa Clarita and Six Flags Magic Mountain. It is a little more than an hour from Downtown Los Angles, or about an hour and a half from Downtown Long Beach depending on traffic conditions. If you’re coming from points near there, you will want to head north on either the I-405 or I-5 towards Bakersfield. Just past Six Flags Magic Mountain, take exit 172 onto CA-126 heading west. You’ll reach the turnoff to the recreation area when you arrive in the small town of Piru. Enjoy the drive along Piru Canyon Road as you steadily climb up to the dam and reservoir before arriving at the Lake Piru Recreation Area and the entrance to Los Padres National Forest. Access costs vary depending on your mode of transportation. Entrance passes run $10 (off-peak season) or $14 (peak season) for passenger vehicles holding up to 8 people. Motorcycle fees are $9 for both peak and off-peak seasons, while walk-in / bicycle access costs $2. Keep in mind that the United Water Conservation District adheres to local and state guidelines regarding COVID-19. As of August 20, 2020, the recreation area was once again open; however, make sure to check the latest information before making travel plans.

Reservations and Arrival

As with just about every other facet of life, COVID-19 has upended the tranquil settings at Lake Piru. Visitors this year are asked to observe several new regulations in place to help protect public health and combat the pandemic. These include wearing a mask in public spaces while in the vicinity of others and maintaining recommended physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart. Public restrooms are limited to 3 people at one time and visitors should, to the extent possible, utilize any self-contained restrooms they have at their disposal such as those in RVs and campers rather than occupying public facilities at Lake Piru. Upon arrival, visitors will be asked to submit a COVID-19 screening form regarding whether they’re currently exhibiting symptoms or have reason to believe they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Gatherings are limited to no more than 6 people at a campsite, 12 people per group in the picnic areas, and no more than 12 people per boat or other vessel. Given the difficulty in maintaining social distancing and mask-wearing, designated swimming areas are closed; however, visitors may still swim from boats provided they wear a personal flotation device. Again, be sure to check current conditions ahead of time in case the situation changes.

Camping at Lake Piru

Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

Lake Piru is a popular destination for camping given the scenic natural landscape and relatively easy access from places in the Greater LA Metro Area. The recreation area’s sizable campground can accommodate RVs, campers, trailers, and tents. Numerous campsites are equipped with electrical supplies and a limited number have full hookups for RVs. In order to better encourage physical distancing, the campground at Lake Piru is operating at half-capacity with only every other site available. Visitors who want to camp must make a reservation fully two weeks in advance of their attended arrival. Each campsite is limited to a maximum of six people. Larger families or those occupying more than one campsite are nonetheless limited to congregating in groups of no more than six people. Reservations are handled by the Parks Management Company (PMC) and can be made online via their website. Only visitors with approved reservations will be allowed to camp during the remainder of the season while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. If you decide to visit Lake Piru, you’re asked to limit the amount of items you bring into the park. Visitors should make every effort to take out all items (including trash) when they depart.

Boating and Fishing at Lake Piru

Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe

Boating, fishing, and other watersports have long been popular at Lake Piru. A boating permit is required for those bringing their own vessels. Daily use permits vary between $8 and $10 depending on whether you’re coming during the off-peak or peak season, respectively. Lake Piru has a small harbor with slips for rent if you intend to spend multiple days and want to avoid continually loading and unloading your boat. Daily and weekly rates are available on a per vessel basis. If you do not have or do not intend to bring your own watercraft this year, there are boats for rent; however, it is not possible to reserve watercraft. They are distributed each day on a strictly first come, first served basis. Both pontoon-style boats accommodating 6 people or so-called v-hulls accommodating 4 are available. At the time of writing, personal watercraft such as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, and Sea-Doos are permitted at Lake Piru Monday through Friday only. Anglers seeking to fish may do so from a boat or along the shore. Several coves offer relatively sheltered spots good for casting a lure. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and more are known to inhabit the lake. Low water levels later in summer may result in some coves becoming inaccessible.

Additional Places to Visit around Lake Piru

The lands surrounding Lake Piru offer excellent opportunities to hike and are well-worth visiting in their own right. These include the neighboring Sespe Condor Sanctuary. The refuge covers more than 53,000 acres and has been instrumental in the decade’s long fight to preserve the critically endangered California condor, the largest bird in North America. Having already once gone extinct in the wild, condors were gradually reintroduced as part of a massive conservation effort throughout the 1990s. Population numbers today remain dangerously low with less than 500 birds living in natural habitats. This makes the California condor one of the world’s rarest bird species. If you plan to visit the sanctuary, make sure you adhere to the established travel corridors. These were created to help protect the birds and limit contact with humans. Access from Lake Piru is easiest by first traveling to the neighboring town of Fillmore before heading north up to the Dough Flat Trailhead.

Lake Piru Recreation Area: A Great Getaway from LA

Lake Piru’s proximity to several attractive towns in the Greater LA Metro Area make it a convenient base from which to day trip. It’s a relatively short drive to, for example, Ventura, Santa Barbara, or Santa Monica where you can enjoy beach access, great shopping, and attractive dining. Those interested in presidential history can journey down to Semi Valley and visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Recent COVID-19 closures have limited the library’s business hours so be sure to check ahead before setting off. Finally, the Los Padres National Forest and Topatopa Mountains are wonderfully scenic places to go for a drive.

Residents of Greater Los Angeles and those looking for a way to combine an urban vacation with some outdoor adventure, will do well to consider a visit to Lake Piru. Complicated somewhat by the current COVID-19 situation in Southern California, the recreation area remains a prime spot for boating, fishing, and other watersports. Beach access is limited at this time but you can still enjoy swimming at Lake Piru if you go out on a watercraft. Located just over an hour north from Downtown Los Angeles, this is a truly convenient destination and one of Southern California’s premiere places to enjoy the wonderful scenery and spectacular landscapes that make this part of the US so special. For this reason and many more, we have no trouble recommending a visit to the Lake Piru Recreation Area.

Disclaimer: This article has been used directly from the Qingqi Qiu Platform, the copyright belongs to the original author. If there is any discrepancy with the copyright please contact us directly and we will immediately delete the content.Index for Network Information Infringement Protection
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