Lago Santa Margarita

A Closer Look at the Lake

Lago Santa Margarita is located a long stone's throw away of the intersection of Santa Margarita and Antonio Parkways, in the shadow of Mount Modjeska and Mount Santiago, Saddleback's twin peaks. Designed by J. Harlan Glenn and Associates and built in 1985, the Lake covers 11.5 surface acres and holds 31 million gallons of water. It is only one foot deep at the edge so that anyone who accidentally falls in will be able to stand up and wade out easily. The Lake bottom slopes gradually toward the center at a ratio of five to one-that is, for every five feet traveled towards its center, the Lake becomes one foot deeper - and is eight feet deep at its deepest point. Unlike a swimming pool, Lago Santa Margarita is not artificially heated. Its temperature changes naturally with the seasons, ranging from a warm 80 degrees in summer to a chilly 50 degrees in winter. The name given to this body of water reflects the Spanish and Rancho heritage of the region. The Spanish noun lago means "lake," and Santa Margarita was the name of a ranch acquired in the early 1900s by Richard O'Neill, an Irish cattleman.

Rancho Santa Margarita Landscape and Corporation (SAMLARC) owns Lago Santa Margarita. The SAMLARC Board of Directors manages this invaluable asset for the benefit of the entire SAMLARC community and the personal enjoyment of the SAMLARC residents and their guests who use the Lake and the nearby Lagoon throughout the year. Maintaining a predictable water level and a pristine aquatic environment requires constant effort. At least three days a week, the water surface is skimmed for leaves and other floating debris, and the Lake is inspected. If the water level has dropped, water is ordered to replace what has been lost to evaporation and not replenished by rainfall. Also, the water is analyzed and its oxygen level is measured. When necessary, the Lake is treated to control the growth of algae and weeds using methods that will not harm the desirable plants or the fish, turtles, ducks and other wildlife making their home in the Lake.

Throughout the year, Lago Santa Margarita is the site of special events, including a Star-Spangled Spectacular in celebration of the Fourth of July and the Fishing Derby. In addition, the Lake is ideal for a variety of year-round recreational activities. The walk around Lago Santa Margarita, a distance of 1.1 Miles, is a favorite with local residents. Although California law prohibits swimming in man-made recreational lakes where the water is not recirculated, Lago Santa Margarita welcomes boaters and anglers. Each spring, the Lake is stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish, to the delight of anglers, and with mosquito fish, to the dismay of the mosquitos. These small North American cousins of the tropical guppy satisfy their voracious appetites by dining on mosquito larvae, which keeps the mosquito population at bay. 

SAMLARC residents and their guests are invited to fish on Lago Santa Margarita. Due to the fact that it is a privately owned Lake, permits are not required. We do ask that you adhere to SAMLARC's catch and release policy.  All fish under 12 inches must be returned to the water immediately. Do not try to remove the hook if the fish has swallowed it. If the fish is hooked on the other than the lip, cut the line and the fish will absorb the hook.