Hike, bike, or skate Lake Miramar's paved perimeter path -- but not across the dam itself.

Not all San Diegans flock to the beaches on sunny summer days. Some gravitate toward inland recreational spots like Lake Miramar, which offers a spacious venue for pursuits such as walking, jogging, biking, and in-line skating and a less spacious but also less crowded venue for boating and fishing. The latter two activities are permitted only on Saturdays through Tuesdays, sunrise to sunset, 11 months a year excluding October. The paved path following the shoreline of the lake is open to self-propelled travelers seven days a week year-round.

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 shipped 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 months of drought. As a result, there's a palpable cooling effect when the summer breezes blow across the water.

The lake's five-mile-long perimeter road is smooth, nearly flat, and paved throughout. Unfortunately, September 11's fallout resulted in the closure, for security reasons, of the road segment crossing the dam itself. No loop route is allowable now, but you can travel for about four miles around the lake shore, then return on the same route. For a more peaceful experience, try Wednesday through Friday, when you will not have to tangle with any car traffic on the road.

Condominiums and boxy mini-mansions have risen like battlements around the lake in recent years. The mood there 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 along with you, but only if on leash and kept 50 feet or more away from the water.

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

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