Silverwood Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Inland Empire -

Also known as:  Lake Silverwood

Rimmed with live oak, manzanita, and mountain mahogany and set against the backdrop of the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains, Silverwood Lake is an important lake for more than just recreation. The lake is part of the State Water Project that brings much-needed water and power to southern California for agricultural, municipal and industrial needs.

Silverwood Lake was named for W. E. “Ted” Silverwood who was an ardent supporter of the State Water Project and of soil and water conservation in the region. Created by the construction of the Cedar Springs Dam in 1971, the lake is an impoundment of the Mojave River’s west fork. The earth dam was built over active faults, and its design had to be modified to accommodate potential earthquakes. It is under the control of the California Department of Water Resources.

Silverwood Lake is the largest reservoir in San Bernardino County and the highest reservoir in the State Water Project. The State Water Project, which also provides flood control, starts when the water enters the Upper Feather River Basin as rain or snowmelt. From there the water collects in Lake Oroville and travels on through rivers, reservoirs, and 444 miles of California Aqueduct. Silverwood Lake is on the east branch of the Aqueduct.

Before construction of dams and reservoirs, the area that is now Silverwood Lake was inhabited by the Serrano Indians. Serrano is Spanish for “mountain people”, and the Indians lived primarily uninterrupted until the Spanish missionaries arrived. In 1790 the San Gabriel Mission brought disease and hard labor, which decimated the Serrano. By the 20th century their population had shrunk to just 119 individuals. Today the area that was once their home is part of the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, which surrounds Silverwood Lake.

Just a few hours northeast of Los Angeles, the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area has abundant wildlife including but not limited to California mule deer, gray foxes, coyotes, and a variety of rabbits and squirrels. Lucky visitors might see a ring-tailed cat, mountain lion, black bear, or golden beaver. Bald eagles nest around Lake Silverwood, where there great blue herons, snowy egrets, and loons. There are several campgrounds within the Silverwood Lake Recreation Area, including some with RV sites. Rangers lead nature walks and campfire programs for both adults and Junior Rangers. There are 13 miles of paved trails for hiking and biking, and part of the Pacific Crest Trail runs through the area. The 2,650-mile long trail runs from Mexico to Canada and through five California State Parks. It follows the crest of the nearby San Bernardino Mountains.

The wildfires in October 2003 damaged about a thousand acres of the Silverwood Lake Recreation Area, which is still recovering. Silverwood Lake, however, is in great shape. There is a marina and boat ramps on the southern end of the lake, along with swimming beaches. Waterskiing is permitted on the northern part of the lake. There are boat rentals available, including jet skis, kayaks, and pontoon, fishing, and paddle boats. Canoes and kayaks can put in at quieter Cleghorn, which also has access to the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail. Several picnic areas are boat-in only. From January through March there are barge tours on the lake to see the bald eagles.

February through June are the best months to fish for trout, and it’s possible to fish from the shore of Silverwood Lake in the spring. Anglers will find healthy populations of bluegill, crappie, catfish and striped bass to challenge them. The California Department of Fish stocks the lake with rainbow trout. There is a bait and tackle shop and snack bar on site.

Silverwood Lake is next to the San Bernardino National Forest in the high desert. Established in 1907, the forest is 676,666 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. With hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, including 160 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, there are plenty of ways to explore the national forest. It is also home to several threatened and endangered species, and there are lots opportunities to see animals year round.

Although Silverwood Lake is surrounded by the State Recreation Area, there is real estate available near by. Several small mountain communities near the lake also have vaction rentals, some with lake views of Lake Gregory or one of the other lakes that dot the San Bernardino Mountains. Hesperia is the nearest city to Silverwood Lake, and it has any amenities a visitor might need.

Silverwood Lake’s value extends far beyond flood control and water storage. It is a fantastic recreation destination, and beautiful home for wildlife.

Things to do at Silverwood Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Silverwood Lake

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Silverwood Lake Photo Gallery

Silverwood Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: California Department of Water Resources

Surface Area: 980 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,350 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 3,300 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,355 feet

Maximum Depth: 166 feet

Water Volume: 73,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1972

Drainage Area: 34 sq. miles

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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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