Camp, paddle, and play disc golf at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura
Remember summer camp? Well, Lake Casitas Recreation Area, just 20 minutes from downtown Ventura, brings it all right back. It's got everything you need for an action-packed day or weekend outdoors: There’s a 5.75-mile shoreline hike, a rugged disc golf experience, and reservoir boat floats on the water. There’s also nearly 450 campsites across its massive grounds.
The lake is dammed and provides drinking water for the area and might be best known for its bass fishing (a reel good time) and the 1984 Olympics, where canoeing and rowing events took place. Today, the boat rental shop provides kayaks and shaded pontoons for some relaxing time on the water. There are motorboats too. If you’d rather stay on land, from the pier there’s a 2.85-mile trail (one-way) both paved and dirt that goes east and south with great views of the lake’s sole island, Main Island, whose peak reaches 500 feet above the water. If you’re on the water you’ll get up close to the resident waterfowl, from Canada geese to cormorants, coots, and grebes. Enjoy all the 1100 acres of water, but don’t get in; as a drinking-water supply, this is a no-body-contact lake.
After your float, it’s time to frolf! Head to the Coyote Point Disc Golf Course on the northwestern side of the lake. The 18-hole affair is one of the most technical in Southern California, and the first hole has you launching your pies hundreds of feet off a steep cliff (which you will have to hike down!). It’s as much an intense workout as it is a challenging course because you’re constantly ascending and descending.
The views of the lake are incredible, especially at sunset—just make sure to keep your eyes on the chains when teeing off. If you want to continue enjoying the natural beauty, snag a reservation at one of the nearly 450 campsites (seriously!) that are scattered around the lake’s edge.
To get to the Lake Casitas Recreation Area entrance, take the US-101 to the CA-33 north towards Ojai. At the terminus of the CA-33, head west on the CA-150. After 3.2 miles, exit and turn left onto Santa Ana Rd., where you will immediately find the Lake Casitas Recreation Area entrance ($10 entry per vehicle, or make a campground reservation). Dog-friendly except on the water!
Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.
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