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7 Of The Best Lakes Near Los Angeles
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7 Of The Best Lakes Near Los Angeles

Where else to find peace and quiet in a busy city than going to a tranquil lake?

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5 min read

September 16, 2021

While beaches, theme parks, restaurants, and celebrity sightings make the City of Angels one of the liveliest places in the world, there’s more to L.A. than meets the eye. With most people here living life in the fast lane, many seek refuge at its hidden gems. And where else to find peace and quiet in a busy city than going to a tranquil lake? Next time you want to relax and unwind, head out to one of the lakes near Los Angeles and enjoy all the outdoor activities in their calm waters. 

Lake Balboa Park is located only minutes away from West Hollywood but feels like being a different county altogether.

1. Lake Balboa

Located in the San Fernando Valley’s Lake Balboa Park, the 27-acre Balboa Lake is where Angelenos go to for good old-fashioned lakeside fun. Popular among couples and families with young children, Balboa is considered one of the best lakes in Los Angeles and offers plenty of recreational activities for a fun-filled day. Fly fishing and pedal boating are the most popular ones within its premises, and the surrounding area packs even more adventures. 

Take advantage of the bicycle paths, children’s playgrounds, launch ramps, and picnic pavilions, and have yourself a super chill barbeque Sunday with the whole fam. #GoodVibesOnly

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2. Echo Park Lake

If you haven’t heard of Echo Park Lake, then you’ve definitely been living under a rock. As the recreational hub of L.A., many considered Echo Park as the most beautiful lake in Los Angeles. Here, you’ll find people engaging in all sorts of outdoor activities—jogging, pedaling swan boats, fishing, having picnics, and much more. Angelenos also consider Echo Park Lake as their go-to outdoor workout spot, because who wouldn’t want to watch the Downtown L.A. skyline amid lotus flower blooms? Pack a picnic lunch, plan a first date, or simply watch the sunset at this spot; you won’t regret it. 

Fun fact: this family-friendly destination used to be a drinking water reservoir in the 1860s. 

Crystal Lake is a naturally formed lake, a rarity in SoCal. It is snow and spring fed and has no other artificial means of being replenished.

3. Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake is the only naturally occurring lake in the San Gabriel Mountains fed by rain, snowmelt, and underground springs. Located in the Angeles National Forest, the lake was given its name in 1887, when Pasadena Judge, Benjamin Eaton, announced that the lake had water clear as crystal that was good to drink. After a few natural hazards—namely, the 2002 Curve Fire—Crystal Lake’s water level dropped significantly. Nowadays, the water level varies from one year to another depending on rainfall. 

This Los Angeles lake attracts fishermen who come for its famous rainbow trout. Hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic tables, and fire rings keep Crystal Lake’s surroundings busy almost all year long. 

Franklin Canyon Lake is a little slice of wilderness right in Beverly Hills’ backyard, where people come to unwind.

4. Franklin Canyon Lake

Franklin Canyon Lake is a reservoir built in 1914 that’s easily one of the most beautiful artificial lakes in Southern California. Located in the San Fernando Valley and Beverly Hills, the lake is one of the primary locations for birdwatching in L.A.—upon completion, the lake turned the canyon into a riparian oasis, where migrating birds take shelter. Besides birdwatching, visitors come here to explore the trails. You’ll often find kids hiking with their parents here; the safe and easy trails make for fun and educational nature trips. 

If Franklin Canyon Lake seems familiar to you, you’re not alone. The L.A. lake was featured in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 through 1968. Franklin Canyon Lake is also featured in the 1934 film It Happened One Night and the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts.

The lake in MacArthur Park is fed by natural springs, although an artificial bottom to the lake was laid during the construction of the Red Line.

5. MacArthur Park Lake

Another one of the most beautiful lakes around Los Angeles is none other than MacArthur Park Lake. Located in Westlake with stunning views of Downtown Los Angeles, the lake is fed by natural spring water that comes from underground aquifers. In fact, MacArthur Park Lake was one of the three reservoirs that provided water for L.A.’s growing population in the 1800s, alongside Echo Park and Lincoln Park Lakes. 

Many people come here to relax, walk, and feed the ducks. On a sunny day, you’ll see people hiking, cycling, picnicking, and birdwatching. However, fishing and swimming are not allowed here. The lake has been used as shooting locations for many Hollywood movies and TV shows such as The Young and the Restless, How I Met Your Mother, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Silence of the Lambs.

Castaic Lake has a lower lagoon with a swim beach that is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend annually.

6. Castaic Lake 

As the largest state reservoir in Southern California, Castaic Lake has more than 11,200 acres of landscaped space, providing enough room for plenty of outdoor activities. Known as one of California’s top lakes for boating, Castaic Lake is separated into lower and upper parts—the lower part is where visitors can go for non-power boating and kayaking, and the upper is for sailing, powerboating, and jet skiing. 

This swimming lake in Los Angeles is also popular with anglers; Castaic is stocked with bass, trout, and catfish. As for those who’d rather not splash around, hiking, biking, and horseback riding are other options to consider when visiting Castaic. No matter what your choice of activity is, this lake belongs on every California vacation itinerary

In 1843, gold was discovered near what is now Pyramid Lake, in the Santa Feliciana Canyon, just south of what is now Pyramid Dam.

7. Pyramid Lake

Out of all the lakes in Los Angeles County, Pyramid is the most breathtaking. Located in the Angeles and Los Padres National Forests, this gorgeous lake is a SoCal hidden gem that happens to be the deepest lake in the California Water Project system. Pyramid Lake is a hotspot for outdoor recreational activities. Motorboats, rowboats, and canoes are constantly floating on its water, and fishermen are always on the lookout for striped bass, trout, catfish, bluegill, and crappie. 

Not a big fan of fishing or canoeing? No worries. There are plenty of picnic spots around Pyramid Lake, where you can admire the beauty of the area from a distance. Now that the secret is out, give one of the best lakes in California a visit and enjoy everything it has to offer. 

Have you been to any of these lakes? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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