Diamond Valley Lake Part 3

The West Side of the North Hills Trail


After a fun hike out and back starting from the east trailhead of the North Hills Trail, outlined in yellow on the map above, Jeff and I decide to find the west trailhead. As we head west on Domenigoni Parkway, we also notice a sign directing us to the Diamond Valley Lake Viewpoint. However, like so many signs and trail markers, the directions are vague and insufficiently marked. But Jeff and I don’t give up. Actually we stumble upon it from Winchester Road only to find out the Viewpoint is not open.  But aha, we also find the trailhead for the North Hills Trail. Not discouraged, we return a few days later when we can explore both.

After registering at a guard house and driving up a winding road, another guard greets us at the Clayton A. Record Jr. Viewpoint.

Clayton was a 4th generation San Jacinto native, a dairy farmer, businessman, community leader, and an elected official who helped develop regional water policy.  Before the Metropolitan Sewer District of Southern California began constructing the reservoir known as Diamond Valley Lake in 1995, Clayton spent many mornings on a bench here, gazing out at the trickling waters from Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio. The Viewpoint was dedicated in 2002 to commemorate his service and leadership.  (dvlake.com)

No dogs are allowed here and accessing the Lakeview Trail is prohibited.

On foot we spiral up to the top and enjoy the scenery of Hemet down below. A compass rose gives us our bearings.

Mt. San Jacinto is to the east.

To the north is Mt. San Gorgonio and the Domenigoni Hills of the North Hills Trail.

The Saddle Dam can also be seen in the picture above. This dam was built to increase the storage capacity of the lake. It rises 130 feet above the lowest point of the Domenigoni Hills ridgeline and is .5 miles long. The inlet/outlet tower controls the amount of water in the reservoir. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

To the south are more hills and a great view of the West Dam.


Just below the dam is the forebay and the pumping station.

We enjoy the scenery…

…and head to the West Trailhead of the North Hills Trail.

The parking area is huge and beautiful, filled with picnic areas and lots of places to tie up horses. I’m not sure why.

But the hike starts out crossing an aqueduct…

…and leads to a dry grassy area that runs parallel to the water canal. It is difficult to walk through and the mile markers are confusing. Not sure where the “trail” is leading, we alternate between staying the course that hugs the boundary fencing and climbing the steep incline to the gravel road that follows the aqueduct.

After a mile or so, we cross the irrigation canal again and head toward the hills. At last the trail looks promising and is easy to follow and well marked.

Our goal is to get near the halfway point leading to the overlook of the lake.

We start to encounter dams of tumbleweeds blocking the trail and manage to plunge through them, until finally we reach an impassable thicket.

We are tired of dealing with the disappointments of the trail, especially of the reality of having to return this way again.

Discouraged, we cut our losses and head back. Bummer…

Diamond Valley Lake Part 2

North Hills Trail


The North Hills Trail runs for 6.5 miles east and west and somewhat parallel to the Domenigoni Parkway, skirting the Diamond Valley Lakeview Trail. See the yellow line in the map above.

There is a dirt parking area at the East Trailhead and unlike the Marina, you can park here free. A donation box with envelopes for a $2 per person contribution is located in the parking lot. You simply fill in your name and vehicle information, enclose your cash, rip off the receipt to take with you, and slide it into the slit of the box. But the box is too full so we carry our cash and envelope with us.

Jeff thinks we are going to hike out for about 40 minutes and then turn back, however I have different plans. In 2.7 miles there is a Lake View Point to trek to and that is my goal.

I don’t take any pictures until we reach the View of Diamond Lake so I find some taken by other hikers.

I remember this marker well. It is looking back 1 mile out from the trailhead.

F5F091B2-81FB-4A0B-A3B4-42752942233D alltrails.com, courtesy of Chris Ibbeson, 1/13

After walking 2 miles the trail starts to climb and pull away from the highway.

6CFDB080-8849-4735-8F57-1FC42E617ACE alltrails.com, courtesy of Chris Ibbeson, 1/13

My eye is on the prize to reach the top so I cajole Jeff to go “just a little further” to the next bend and then another and then just one more. Meanwhile, we put one foot in front of the other to reach the top, gaining an elevation of some 500 feet.

669CBFB0-6372-4F9A-95D2-23DCF63481D1  alltrails.com, courtesy of Brian Johnston, 2017


Halfway to the top a barbed wire fence separates us from the Lakeview Trail. Jeff and I remember passing this way on December 1st.


And we continue climbing around the rim until we reach a wide-path detour…


…and arrive at the overlook of the lake. There’s even a picnic table waiting there.


All in all, a fun hike and a good workout.

Footnote: I dedicate this hike to my mother who passed away on this date 5 years ago. This one’s for you, mother!

Diamond Valley Lake Part 1


Diamond Valley Lake is a man-made reservoir 4 miles southwest of the city of Hemet, CA. Its volume capacity is 800,000 acre-feet. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

According to watereducation.org, an acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover an acre of land, about the size of a football field, 1 foot deep. That is the equivalent of approximately 326,000 gallons of water.

Diamond Valley Lake is a domestic water supply source for drought, the peak of summer, and emergency needs.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California began construction of the reservoir in 1995. It took 4 years, from 1999 – 2003, to fill the lake with water supplied by the Colorado River Aqueduct. Today the Inland Feeder delivers water to Diamond Valley Lake. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

In our search for places to hike in the San Jacinto area, Jeff discovered DVL and its 21.8 mile trek for hikers and bikers around the lake.


DVL is about 10 miles away from Diamond Valley RV Resort where we are parked for the winter months.

To access the trail along the lake, you have to park at the Marina and pay a $9 fee. An additional $2 per person hiking fee brings the total to $14. But we don’t mind. We’re giving back to the environment.

The trail is a litter-free wide dirt path that follows the outline of the lake. There is no drinking water available but port-a-potties are scattered about 5 miles apart. Now and then canopied shade stations appear, and depending upon the direction of the sun, they offer a reprieve. Fishing is allowed along a designated portion of the shoreline.

We enjoy an out and back hike of 5 1/2 miles.



C6CE9910-B9D0-461E-A2FC-E9B94A553F0D                                                       a natural dried flower arrangement


Looking back towards the marina, Mt. San Jacinto photo bombs the 2 pictures below:





Any guesses as to what the circled object in this next picture is?


Here’s a zoomed-in view:

BC678835-4A9A-4D8B-842D-C2126209140F Give up?

It’s a floating bathroom!