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Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Updated on September 7, 2014

Lake Murray, a place to exercise and see wildlife

Lake Murray is one of San Diego's many reservoirs that is also open for recreational use. What's great about Lake Murray is that you don't have to go way out of town to get there. It's just north of I-8 with the main entrance on Kiowa Road just west of Lake Murray Boulevard. They offer a paved 3.2 walking trail, but be careful, it doesn't go all the way around, so plan your walk carefully. There are also flush toilets at the south and north end of the lake and pit toilets at various intervals along the path. Other amenities include a snack bar, baseball fields on the north end along with a children's park in development, benches, and picnic tables. Dogs are allowed and welcome, but must be leashed and kept away from the water.

One can also fish at the lake and even launch their own boats and kayaks. The fish available include bass (Florida strain) all year around and trout stocked in the winter. Catfish, sunfish, and blue-gill are also available. A fishing license is required as well as payment of a lake fee. Private boats are allowed, but must pay additional fees to launch. Young children and children between certain ages can fish either or free or a reduced price. Bait is available for sale at the store near the boat docks.

No swimming or wading is allowed.

Hours: Access to the lake is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Gates to parking areas/boat launch are open at 5:30 AM and close at 6:30PM in winter months and 8PM in summer months and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

All photos in this lens were taken by me unless otherwise noted.

Lake Murray

Here is the location of the main entrance to Lake Murray. There is also access to the lake on Baltimore Drive and off of Golfcrest Drive.

Lake Murray, kiowa drive, La Mesa, CA:
Lake Murray, kiowa drive, La Mesa, CA

get directions

Lake Murray paved path.
Lake Murray paved path. | Source

Tips for visiting

For your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others

Here's some tips for visiting the area. I don't mean to sound preachy, but because a diverse group of people visit the lake, it's courteous to keep the following things in mind

Kids Kids are welcome and even encouraged to be at the lake. There are lots of areas where they can run around and lots of animals to look at. Please do not let your kids throw rocks and chase the animals. Not everyone thinks your kids are cute when they run after the birds, squirrels, etc, and it really stresses the animals out. Also, be aware that though many animals are friendly, they are not tame and your child can be hurt by them. There are also rattlesnakes in the area, particularly active in spring and summer. Another thing, it's not advised to leave your kids there un-supervised.

Dogs Please keep your dogs on a leash, preferably a standard (non-retractable) leash around 6-8 feet long. Not everyone's dogs are social and not everyone likes to have a dog approach them. Plus, there are friendly waterfowl who like to hang around by the road waiting for people to give them a hand-out. Also, dogs are not allowed to be less than 50FT from the water and definitely not in the water. Dogs are not allowed to harass or chase animals and doing so will get you an expensive ticket in the least or hefty fines. On top of that, many people love the animals here and you might get at least a verbal thrashing by lake regulars or worse.

Bikes Bikes are fun to bring to the lake, but recently there have been some serious accidents between cyclists and walkers. The speed limit for bikes is 10 MPH. On weekends, especially, it can be very crowded and cycling might be difficult. This is definitely not the place to train for your next bike race, but it is a nice place to take a leisurely casual ride. On the other side of the issue, don't be a jerk by yelling at every cyclist who passes you that you think is going too fast. Many responsible cyclists have been berated for what was perceived to be "reckless and fast" cycling. Some people have gone out of their way to pick fights with cyclists who weren't doing anything other than passing a pedestrian who didn't see them coming. Best thing for both cyclists and pedestrians to do is be aware of each other and stay out of each other's way.

Feeding ducks Feeding ducks and other animals is discouraged at this lake, though many people break this rule often. Currently, enough people feed them that they don't need another person to do so. So, it's best to skip the feeding or only feed small amounts, preferably of healthy food and vegetables. Please do not feed citrus, onions, uncooked beans, rice or oatmeal, or pastries to the animals. The latter attracts a large amount of pests like mice and rats, plus the ducks and geese will not eat it.

Fishing Please pick up your fish lines, hooks and sinkers when you're done fishing. Not only have animals gotten hurt by discarded fishing equipment, people have, too. Also, please do not deliberately cast near animals or people. Keep your boat's wake at a minimum.

Featured photo taken at Lake Murray - Baby Osprey

Baby Osprey
Baby Osprey | Source

This year, 2014, three osprey chicks fledged at the lake. However, one got in a little accident when he fledged and had to be taken to the wildlife hospital. He was released a month later.

Things to help you enjoy Lake Murray

Here are a few items that may be useful if you visit Lake Murray.

Ready 2 Fish Soft Sided Tackle Bag
Ready 2 Fish Soft Sided Tackle Bag

Sometimes you need to walk around the shore to get the best fishing spot. So, why not get an easy to carry bag? This one is soft and flexible and has a carry strap with a shoulder pad to make it more comfortable.

Nikon 7216 Action 8x40 Binocular
Nikon 7216 Action 8x40 Binocular

Great for looking at that towhee or California gnatcatcher. I recommend binoculars of this power and size for birdwatching.

Wood duck pair
Wood duck pair | Source

Animals and birds you might see at Lake Murray

Lots of variety

Wildlife abounds here. Some examples of animals and birds you might see here depending on what time of day (or night) you visit and what season. *Means animals that have been seen with offspring. This is not a comprehensive list, but the most likely to be seen.




Great Blue Herons*

Snowy Egret


Great-horned owls

Northern harriers

Cooper's hawks*

Red-shouldered hawks*


American coot*


Wood ducks*

Mallard ducks*

Domestic ducks

Canada geese*

Domestic geese


Great-tailed grackles*

Ground squirrels*

Tree squirrels

Black-crowned night herons*

Green herons*

California gulls*

Western gulls*

Spotted sandpiper

Great egret

Brewer's blackbird*

Rock pigeon

California quail*

Song sparrow

Lesser goldfinch

California towhee


Red-tailed hawks*

Red-shouldered hawks

Peregrine Falcons

American white pelicans

Great egrets

Why Ducks Do That: 40 Distinctive Waterfowl Behaviors Explained & Photographed
Why Ducks Do That: 40 Distinctive Waterfowl Behaviors Explained & Photographed

Find out why those ducks behave so weirdly. I get a lot of questions about duck behavior at this lake because they do all kinds of things.


Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper
Spotted sandpiper | Source

More information on Lake Murray

Here are some links to find out more about Lake Murray in the San Diego/La Mesa California area.

Photos of the lake itself - Photos of the lake taken by me

Cowles mountain after the rain.
Cowles mountain after the rain. | Source

Speak to me!

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      That's a subtle way of thnnkiig about it.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      My family and I spent our summer vacation in California in 1987. We visited the San Diego Zoo. Too bad we missed Lake Murray. Hope to see it someday.

    • redszone profile image


      5 years ago

      Looks awesome. I live in Sydney Australia but would live to visit your neck of the woods. Thanks for the great info

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 

      5 years ago

      It has been awhile since last visit but used to enjoy going out on a weekend and just spending some time there. I appreciate you sharing this lens and bringing back some pleasant memories. I also appreciate you stopping by my Traditional Irish Stew Similar To Grandmas lens and giving it a "thumbs up" Thank You & Bon Appetit! (^_-)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This looks like a great place. Since we live in Orange County, this is about a two hour drive. Thank you for publishing this lens. It's valuable info.

    • Northbright profile image

      Norbert Isles 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      I love birds and love the way their vivid photos are projected before me. Love Lake Murray and hope I got a chance to visit it someday.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow I am amazed at the VARIETY of birds.. I need to go visit I think.. yay, as it is w/in driving distance for me. Angel blessed lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Lake Murray has some of the best Bass Fishing in the Country.


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