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Lago Santa Margarita

steven kish

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. The Lake has a circumference of 1.1 miles, covers 11.5 surface acres and holds 31 million gallons of water.


Designed by J. Harlan Glenn and Associates and built in 1985, 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. The Lake is one foot deep at the edge and slopes gradually toward the center at a ratio of five to one: for every five feet traveled towards its center, the Lake becomes one foot deeper, reaching a maximum depth of eight feet. The Lago Santa Margarita's temperature changes naturally with the seasons, ranging from a warm 80 degrees in summer to a chilly 50 degrees in winter.

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 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. 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 remote controlled boats and recreational fishing.

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 throughout the year. Maintaining a stable 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.

Hours: Daily 6 AM - 11 PM

Photo by SAMLARC Member Steven Kish

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