Lake Arrowhead, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Inland Empire -

Also known as:  Little Bear Lake

In 1891 a group of Ohio businessmen formed a company to construct a reservoir to provide water to irrigate the southern California lowlands. Lake Arrowhead, the resulting reservoir, is much more than simply a source of water. The self proclaimed “Jewel of Southern California” nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains has a rich history and a charming town to explore.

The Arrowhead Reservoir Company, under the presidency of James Morris Gamble of Proctor and Gamble, began construction on a dam on the East end of Little Bear Valley. In 1905 the property came under the control of the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company. The semi-hydraulic earth-filled dam was under construction from 1895 through 1915. By 1911, Lake Arrowhead, then known as Little Bear Lake, had filled enough to attract campers and anglers. The lake continued to fill until 1923, but by then it was under the control of the Arrowhead Lake Company. A court order prohibiting the use of water outside the natural watershed ended the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company. The Arrowhead Lake Company changed the name of the lake to Lake Arrowhead and named the lakeside development Arrowhead Woods for a natural rock formation on the face of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Today the lake is privately owned and operated by the Arrowhead Lake Association. There is no public access to the lake. Only Arrowhead Woods property owners and their guests are allowed on or in the water. Most of the development around Lake Arrowhead is residential, and about 53 percent of the population is made up of full time residents. Visitor accommodations range from cabins to hotels, motels, and condos. There is a campground nearby with restrooms, showers and RV hookups. There are also several charming bed and breakfasts with a view of the water.

Recreational opportunities on Lake Arrowhead include fishing, boating, and sailing. The lake is stocked with trout, and there are healthy populations of bass, crappie, sunfish, and carp along with kokanee salmon. Because the lake is privately owned, boating is pleasurable with no overcrowding. Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club promotes sailing on the lake. Every year the lake hosts an Antique and Classic Wooden Boat Show.

The Village at Lake Arrowhead has shopping and restaurants. There is a free summer concert series and an Oktoberfest, both of which are very well attended. Even without water access, there is plenty for visitors to the Lake Arrowhead area to do, and at just 90 miles from Los Angeles, it is very accessible.

Lake Arrowhead is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. Created in 1907, the forest encompasses 676,666 acres with camping, boating, and wildlife viewing. The Arrowhead Ranger Station in Skyforest is nearest to Lake Arrowhead. The Rim of the World Scenic Byway is a 110 mile stretch of road on the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains from Cajon to San Gorgonio Pass, and it is an easy drive from the lake.

The charm of the surrounding communities and the natural beauty of the San Bernardino Mountains draw thousands of visitors to Lake Arrowhead every year. The private nature of the lake maintains the peace and tranquility that has made this southern California jewel a resort area for over a century.

Things to do at Lake Arrowhead CA

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Forest
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Arrowhead CA

  • Bass
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Salmon
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Lake Arrowhead CA Photo Gallery

Lake Arrowhead CA Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Arrowhead Lake Association

Surface Area: 784 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,107 feet

Average Depth: 60 feet

Maximum Depth: 145 feet

Water Volume: 47,418 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1923

Lake Area-Population: 12,982

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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