If you are thinking about getting away for the weekend but do not have a lot of time to spend driving to the “boondocks”, then Castaic Lake Recreation Area is the perfect destination.
Nestled among the oaks and chaparral of the Angeles National Forest, Castaic is a quick fix if you are in the mood to spend the day in the sun and water but are looking for an alternative to the beach.
Run by the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, Castaic Lake is 320,000 acre-feet state water reservoir located just north of Santa Clarita on the Interstate 5 Freeway.
The lake is divided into an upper and lower section, with the upper having two “arms.” And while the entire lake and surrounding area is a popular place for camping, boating, and kayaking, anglers head to Castaic in search of the “big catch.”
Castaic Lake is about 30 minutes north of Los Angeles and 15 minutes drive from Six Flags Magic Mountain putting the recreation area within easy day-trip distance from anywhere in the Los Angeles Basin.
Surrounding Castaic Lake is over 8,800 acres of recreational land and open space habitat, with miles of exciting trails to explore. The trail system is open to mountain bikes, equestrians, and hikers, and provides a wide variety of potential destinations to discover and explore.
Camping at Castaic Lake
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area offers 60 self-contained overnight camping sites at its lower lake lagoon, which can accommodate travel trailers, campers, and RV’s. Tent camping is also available on a limited basis.
The campground makes the perfect place to set up your “base camp” for all your recreational activities. Dive in and reservations are accepted. The campground is located on the lower across the lagoon from the swimming areas. No swimming is allowed from the campground.
There is a fishing pier within walking distance of the campsites. If you want to jet ski or boat you must use the upper lake, no gasoline-powered engines are allowed in the lagoon waters.
Fishing at Castaic Lake
Several State, National, and World record fish were caught at Castaic Lake. The lake is loaded with a variety of fish species including Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, Bluegill, Black Crappie, Carp, Smallmouth Bass, and Channel Catfish.
However, the biggest draw for fishers is the 24,000 pounds Rainbow Trout, which are planted every October through March by the Department of Fish and Game in the upper lake area to the northeast called the “fish arm.” In this area of the lake, you will also find Castaic Landings adjacent to the main launch ramp.
In addition to selling fishing licenses, tackle, and live bait, the small store also sells snack foods and beverages, as well as providing fishing boats for rental. To the northeast of the “fishing arm,” is the “ski arm” portion of the upper lake. This area provides the ideal spot for pleasure boaters, water skiers, and wakeboarders.
Personal watercraft such as jet skis have their own sectioned off area here directly in front of the main launch ramp alongside the dam, where no private or fishing boats are permitted.
Because of the motorized activity, there is no swimming in the upper lake, however, swimming is allowed at several designated beach areas at the lower lake.
Castaic Lake is located within the Angeles National Forest just 15 minutes north of Six Flags Magic Mountain and five minutes from I-5. Park gates are open from sunrise to sunset, and admission to the park ends an hour before closing.
Castaic Lake State Recreation area is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day. Swimming is allowed only during the summer season, May through early September.
During the summer, the lower lagoon swimming beaches can get crowded so arrive early to pick out a picnic table. Also, temperatures can reach 100 plus on some days.
So whether you are into boating, camping, picnicking, kayaking, hiking, or simply enjoying nature and the great outdoors — Castaic Lake has it all.