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Lake Piru is an Affordable Hidden Gem in California

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and looking for a break from the hustle and bustle, you might want to check out Lake Piru.

At Lake Piru, visitors can relax by the water or on the water. 

Keep reading to learn more about the lake, including what you can do and where you can stay.

Let’s get started!

About Lake Piru

Lake Piru is over 100 feet deep and famous for celebrity incidents, including the Harrison Ford helicopter crash and Naya Rivera drowning. The Santa Felicia Dam, constructed in 1955 on Piru Creek, created the Lake Piru reservoir.

Where Is Lake Piru?

The rocky and scrub-covered Topatopa Mountains surround Lake Piru, which is inside the Los Padres National Forest. In fact, the mountains seem to rise directly from the lake. In the spring, the area transforms with endless views of green grassy mountain peaks and colorful wildflowers. 

Although the area seems remote, it’s only 50 miles north of Los Angeles. The recreation area is at 4780 Piru Canyon Road in Piru, California. 

Pro Tip: After exploring Lake Piru, check out these 5 Incredible California Castles.

Can You Swim in Lake Piru?

It’s not clear if swimming is currently allowed at Lake Piru. The lake is known to have harsh conditions, including debris, low visibility, currents, strong winds, and cold temperatures.

Some sources state that you can swim at a specific small beach area. However, others say you can swim from your boat as long as you wear a floatation device. 

Pro Tip: Because of the lake’s dangers, we recommend calling to verify if and where you can swim.

What Else Is There To Do at Lake Piru?

If swimming isn’t an option, you can still go boating, sailing, paddling, water skiing, and fishing on the lake. If you prefer staying on land instead, there are still plenty of activities. The recreation area has hiking opportunities, horseshoes, disc golf, basketball, and volleyball. 

And don’t forget about enjoying a nice picnic with gorgeous views of the towering Topatopa Mountains. 

Woman doing yoga next to a lake.
Lake Piru is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Best Hikes Near Lake Piru

With 60 acres of recreational area, Lake Piru also has around 20 miles of hiking trails. Although the website shows a day fee, several visitors claim that a payment is not required when hiking. We recommend reaching out directly to Lake Piru Recreation Area for the most accurate fee schedules. 

Pothole Spring

The Pothole Spring trail is an out-and-back trail that’s part of the Devil’s Gateway Via Agua Blanca Creek and Pothole loop. Pothole Spring trail is six miles one way, challenging, and narrow with an elevation gain of 4,776 feet. 

To get to the trailhead, head to the Lake Piru gatehouse along Piru Canyon Road. Let the gate attendant know you’re parking at the Pothole Trailhead and drive to the trailhead parking lot. 

You’ll want to pay attention to signage, as there’s more than one parking lot on the way to the trailhead. If you park at the wrong parking lot, you end up adding Piru Canyon Road (and additional miles) to your actual hike. The trailhead is also tricky to locate, so keep an eye out. 

Along with views of the lake and surrounding landscape, there is a small marsh at Pothole Spring. If you’re interested in a longer hike, keep reading to learn more about the 20-mile loop that connects Agua Blanca Creek and Pothole Spring Trails. 

Devil’s Gateway Via Agua Blanca Creek and Pothole Trail

At 20.1 miles, the Devil’s Gateway Via Agua Blanca Creek and Pothole Trail is a loop that connects the Agua Blanca Creek and Pothole Spring trails. The trails meet above Devil’s Gateway and near Log Cabin Camp. 

It’s a moderate trail with an elevation gain of 3,625 feet. Along the path, you can expect to see deer, Piru Canyon, Lake Piru, and the surrounding peaks of the Topatopa Mountains. 

Best Camping Near Lake Piru

After a full day playing on and around Lake Piru, you can rest up in nearby camping. We found two campgrounds less than 30 minutes away from the lake, Olive Grove Campground and Valencia Travel Village. 

Olive Grove Campground

Located on the west shore of Lake Piru, Olive Grove Campground has more than 230 campsites for RVs and tents. All of the campsites have a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill. Some sites are full hookups, while others have only water and electricity. 

Although the roads are gravel, the campsites are only dirt. The campground has restrooms with flush toilets and hot (paid) showers. 

Location: ​​4780 Piru Canyon Rd., Castaic, CA 91384

Pro Tip: Want to soak up the sun on the sand? Check out these Best Beach Camping Spots in California.

Valencia Travel Village

Valencia Travel Village RV Park is 25 minutes southeast of Lake Piru. The park has 381 full hook-up gravel campsites. Along with typical RV park amenities such as onsite laundry, camp store, and clubhouse, Valencia Travel Village also has two heated pools and a hot tub. 

Location: 27946 Henry Mayo Drive, Castaic, CA 91384

Is a Lake Piru Road Trip Worth It? 

Yes, a road trip to Lake Piru is worth it! The area is breathtaking and unexpected, with epic mountain and lake views. There are plenty of opportunities for fun on the lake or the land. So next time you’re in the area, consider Lake Piru. Have you ever visited Lake Piru? Tell us about your experience!

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