The 21.8-Mile Lake View Trail at Diamond Valley Lake
Earlier this year, I heard about the 21.8-mile Lake View Trail at Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet and knew that I would have to give it a try. I did. Twice.
First Try – Out of Time:
On my first visit, I arrived at about 11:15 AM with the goal of finishing by 6:15 PM. The person who took my money at the marina ($9 for parking and $2 for a trail pass) told me that the marina closed at 6:45 PM. No problem.
At around 5:45 PM with about 3 miles remaining, I called the marina office to find out what would happen if I didn’t make it back by 6:45 PM. Normally, three miles in one hour would be no problem, but I was sore and almost out of water so I knew it was going to be rough.
I was told that I would be issued a ticket and fined $75 if I arrived after 6:45 PM, so I hung up the phone and kept going… until Justin and Stan picked me up about fifteen minutes later and drove me the last few miles back to the marina. My 21.8-mile hike had turned into a 19-mile hike.
Thanks to Justin and Stan for picking me up and being so cool about it.
Second Try – Mission Accomplished:
I went back a week later with three times the amount of water I took the first time… 6 liters in total. Mission accomplished.
Proper hydration made a HUGE difference.
Apparently, there aren’t a lot of people who try to complete the full loop. There should be a t-shirt.
Here are some pictures from my two visits:
The trail starts and ends at the marina parking lot. I assume you can go either direction, but I started at the west end of the parking lot (near the boat ramp) both times.
This is a “no body-contact reservoir” so there is no swimming, but you can launch your boat or rent one from the marina if you want to spend the day on the water.
I never really think about mountain lions when I see these signs, but I started thinking about them toward the end of my first visit. Adding up both days, I probably saw fewer than 10 other people out on the trail, and only a few cyclists on the far side of the lake. There were a few remote spots that had me looking over my shoulder.
I very rarely see snakes when I’m out hiking, but I saw this guy or girl on my second trip. My Google skills tell me that this might be a rosy boa.
There are mile markers along the trail so you can keep track of your progress.
When I reached the helipad on my first visit, I was ready for a helicopter to come pick me up. Wishful thinking.
There are small rest areas along the trail about three to five miles apart that mainly consist of picnic tables and some shade. There are also portable restrooms at many of the rest areas, but there is NO DRINKING WATER.
The view from the west dam looking back toward the marina in the east:
After about 9-10 miles, I finally reached the other side of the lake.
This big wall of rock is near the 17-mile mark, and is a fitting metaphor because I felt like I had hit a wall by this point during my first visit.
If you want to try the full 21.8-mile hike, here are a few tips:
- If you’re not accustomed to walking long distances, don’t try it. The trail is mostly flat, but there are some inclines and 21.8 miles is a LONG distance.
- Don’t try it when it is hot. It was in the mid 80s when I tried it the first time, and that was a mistake.
- Bring a lot of water (and food, especially if it will take you all day). I took 64 ounces of water (2 liters) on my first visit and it was not enough. I took 6 liters on my second visit. There are rest stops with some shade and picnic tables about every three to five miles, but THERE IS NO DRINKING WATER ON THE TRAIL.
- Bring your cell phone. Make sure to sign in at the marina so they know you’re on the trail.
- Don’t go alone. I saw very few people on the trail, and I was the only person to try the full hike. I would have been on my own if anything bad had happened to me.
- Bring sun protection.
- Start early. Make sure you have time to finish or face a $75 fine.
If you have walked (or run) the entire 21.8 miles (or tried), share your experience in the comment section.
Diamond Valley Lake Marina
2615 Angler Ave
Hemet, CA 92545