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Jonathan Stull | 01.17.2017

Nestled north of San Bernardino in the San Bernardino National Forest, Silverwood Lake Recreation Area is a popular destination for Angelenos who visit the cool waters of Silverwood Lake to hike, fish, swim, and paddle. The recreation area features a wide variety of activities to enjoy, including campgrounds for overnight stays, boat ramps and rentals for on-water enjoyment, swim beaches, and multi-use trails for horseback riding, biking, and hiking. Given its close proximity to the Los Angeles metro area, about 80 miles from downtown, Silverwood Lake Recreation Area is an ideal weekend retreat. From barge tours that showcase the lake’s bald eagle population to trails in the San Bernardino National Forest, Silverwood Lake is a must-see destination in the California State Parks system.


A trail network extends for 13 miles around the park. Most notably, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through Silverwood Lake, making the recreation area a popular layover for thru-hikers. For those with access to a car, there are options in the San Bernardino National Forest that demand attention. Deep Creek Hot Springs to the north is a popular destination for soakers who appreciate the shade of the sycamores and a more natural experience. Lake Gregory Regional Park to the southeast boasts a large waterpark that is perfect for families and those who appreciate water slides and diving platforms. Take the longer hike to Upper Deep Creek Canyon and its numerous swimming holes, or brave the crowds at Aztec Falls, a local hotspot for cliff diving and a perfect activity for a hot summer day—unless, of course, you’d prefer to lay out on one of Silverwood Lake’s swim beaches.

Swim Beaches

Staffed all summer long with lifeguards, the Cleghorn Swim Beach on Silverwood Lake’s southernmost point  is a great place for the kids. The water is shallow and off-limits to powerboats, making it a safer spot for children to take a dip in the water. In addition, the day use area here features picnic tables that are ideal for a mid-day meal and running water. Silverwood Lake Swim Beach is similarly ideal, although powerboats are allowed here.

Anglers, be advised: The waters of Silverwood Lake are home to catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and trout, among others. The best fishing conditions are in the spring and fall.


Reservations are needed at the campgrounds at Silverwood Lake and can be secured online or by calling 800.444.7275. Mesa Campground offers 124 car sites and seven walk-in sites. Campsites are large and private, and Mesa Campground remains open year-round. The amenities in California campgrounds adhere to a higher standard, and Mesa Campground is no exception, offering shower facilities in addition to the standard complement at each site. The Pacific Crest Trail is adjacent. While Mesa does offer group campgrounds for groups as large as 120, the Silverwood Lake Group Campgrounds are an alternative worth considering. Open to reservations between spring and fall, each campsite can accommodate up to 100 campers just steps from the beach and boat ramps at Silverwood Lake.


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