Perched high atop the San Diego community of Scripps Ranch you’ll find an unexpected cycling oasis.
Sure, Lake Miramar may not win any awards for its shape (when viewed from above, it resembles a spiny, legless dinosaur with its jaws set perpetually agape). It’s also not exactly what you’d call centrally located, situated just under 15 miles north and west of downtown.
Still, with beautiful views and an uninterrupted, 5-mile cycling trail wound around its exterior, the reservoir is just what the doctor ordered for any outdoor enthusiasts feeling cooped up by the big city.
To give you a little background on its history, the Lake Miramar Dam was created in 1960, in conjunction with the second San Diego Aqueduct project. It measures close to 115 ft deep, 162 acres in area, and currently serves around half a million residents within the city’s northern limits.
The facilities here might be basic, but they’re more than adequate enough to meet any cyclist’s needs. Aside from a launch dock and picnic tables, there are drinking fountains, restrooms, and an available parking lot should you opt to schlep your bike in from out of town.
As for the riding itself, well, things are pretty cut and dry. The western and southern ends of Lake Miramar are relatively straight, with the former offering long, unobstructed vistas over the surrounding San Diego landscape.
The farther east you continue along the loop, the curvier things get, culminating in a northern shoreline that consists of a series of undulating peaks and troughs. That’s not great news for anyone looking to set personal speed records, however the switchbacks do offer a touch of variation on an otherwise flat course.
Besides, there’s a 10 mph speed limit in place – not that it’s religiously adhered to.
All in all, the Lake Miramar loop delivers a more picturesque, less competitive alternative to a Fiesta Island. It’s most likely a bit of a haul from where you’re staying, but never mind the distance. Just pack a bagged lunch, leave the lycra at home, and come spend an hour or so exploring one of San Diego’s overlooked, family friendly cycling destinations.