Lake Hemet, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Inland Empire -

Also known as:  Lake Hemet Reservoir

Not far from the famed San Jacinto Peak in California’s Inland Empire, Lake Hemet Reservoir offers plenty of nature-focused recreation to lucky visitors. The reservoir, built along the San Jacinto River, holds water to be supplied to several towns and businesses in the Palm Springs area. Originally constructed in 1895 when the Hemet Dam was built, operating authority for the reservoir now belongs to the Lake Hemet Municipal Water District. Located entirely within the San Bernardino National Forest, a six-section campground adds valuable waterside fun to numerous families every year. A surface area of 470 acres offers ample area for anglers who come to enjoy the fishing. Set against the stunning backdrop of the towering San Jacinto Mountains, Lake Hemet is a prized destination for outdoor-loving visitors of all ages.

The reservoir is a designated water supply, so access is regulated to prevent contamination. A day pass fee is required of those who come to picnic, swim or fish in Lake Hemet. Personal fishing boats are allowed, but must be inspected for aquatic ‘hitch-hikers’ before launch. Many choose instead to rent a fishing boat at the park-operated marina, where motorized and rowboats can be launched for a small fee. The boating speed limit is 10 mph, so water skiing, power boats or personal watercraft are not allowed. The marina also rents pontoon boats, peddle boats and sit-on-top kayaks. Fishing is usually good, as the California Department of Fish and Game regularly stocks the lake. Rainbow trout are stocked every two weeks during the warmer months. Largemouth bass, channel catfish and blue gills are also sought-after targets. All fishermen over age 16 must hold a valid State of California fishing license. There are several places to fish from shore, although most prefer renting a boat.

A day spent in the shade of the giant oaks, pines and manzanita trees in the picnic grounds gives one plenty of views across the water to the surrounding mountains. Eagles and hawks glide effortlessly on air currents above. Bicycles can be rented within the park; cycling and walking the many paths are enjoyed by all. Playgrounds for the youngsters occupy active children, and a six-hole disk golf course commands the attention of those not interested in volley ball, horseshoes, tetherball or bocce ball. A waterplay area, shallow swim lagoon and a small swimming beach give plenty of opportunities for cooling off. On Saturday nights, there are open-air movies, and internet access is available in the Discovery Room. A camp store offers all sorts of necessities and snacks. Six campground sections are stretched along the eastern shoreline with restrooms, showers and the usual amenities. Reservations are recommended as these campgrounds are popular and fill up quickly. A campsite here makes a great home-base for exploring the many hiking trails and majestic peaks in the surrounding San Bernardino National Forest and Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides great views to San Jacinto Peak, taking passengers from 2,643 feet past the sheer walls of Chino Canyon to 8,516 feet in about ten minutes. Those hiking to the top of San Jacinto Peak can continue on foot. The tramway car with a rotating floor assures all riders of spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The wilderness areas of the state park and national forest are replete with trails for hiking of varying difficulty. Appropriate passes should be obtained before venturing off into these forested mountains, and accurate trail maps are always a good idea. These are available at the Ranger Stations in Idyllwild and Long Valley. There are even primitive camping areas available for overnight camping in the national forest. These also fill up quickly in this popular area, so it is wise to apply for a permit early.

The town closest to Lake Hemet is tiny Idyllwild to the north along State Route 74, known as the Pines to Palms Highway. Idyllwild is filled with shops and restaurants catering to tourists. To the west, the small City of Hemet offers a number of attractions. The Western Science Center is filled with interactive exhibits relating to the geology of the surrounding area and what life was like in the Domenigoni and Diamond Valleys in both the recent and distant past. Children will love the life-sized mastodons, and adults will marvel at the pioneer living facilities depicted. There is even something for the very young child at Hemet. The Fingerprints Youth Museum offers interactive displays and opportunities to explore such things as construction equipment and primary science activities. If the fish aren’t biting at Lake Hemet, a small, five-acre pond called Little Lake on the outskirts of Hemet gives everyone an opportunity to try their luck in a heavily-stocked pond. The admission price covers the fish caught, and opportunities to walk the trail around the lake are an added bonus.

No visit to the Lake Hemet area would be complete without a side trip to The Living Desert. This zoo and botanical garden recreates a panorama of the world’s different desert ecologies, including animals and plants. Other attractions include a model train village, wildlife trails, an ‘Ant Lab’ and an air-conditioned Discovery Center. Those not camping can find a variety of other lodgings in the towns and cities in the area, with a number of hotels, guest cottages, bed & breakfasts and resort ranches, some within the San Bernardino National Forest. Real estate may still be available in the area, even if not directly on Lake Hemet. Located just a couple of hours east of Los Angeles, the Lake Hemet area is easy to reach and a ton of fun.

Things to do at Lake Hemet

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Hemet

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Lake Hemet Photo Gallery

Lake Hemet Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lake Hemet Municipal Water District

Surface Area: 470 acres

Shoreline Length: 12 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,341 feet

Water Volume: 14,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1923

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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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