Cali Paddlers are known for their passion of exploration. A desire to paddle our waters, and pay respects to the amazing wildlife and nature that lives in our waterways. Thank you to Bret Warner from Stand up to Alzheimer’s for exploring this great state and sharing new areas to paddle. -C.P.
Often times when paddling the lakes of Inland Southern California you will be one of the only paddlers in the water. If you go early enough there is a good chance you could have some of the lakes to yourself. Lake Perris is where I go when I need respite from this solitude. It is by no means like Mission Bay on a Sunday afternoon where one could jump their way to shore along all the 32” wide rental SUPS, but even when I have gone to Lake Perris at 6:00 am in 30/40 degree weather I have seen other craft on the water. It is a meeting place for the long established Valley Wide Kayak Club, a super friendly group that usually does a 5ish mile paddle there on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It is the only Inland Lake I have ever seen an OC-1 on, or someone on a racing SUP, at least besides myself. Additionally, it is decidedly less windy than any of the mountain lakes like Silverwood or Big Bear.
The Lake is situated between Moreno Valley and the city of Perris inside Lake Perris State Park. As a California State Park it is $10 to enter, but after that you may launch at will, there is no extra launch fee for a paddlecraft. Once inside there are multiple beaches to launch from, some of which allow you to drive right up to the waterline. My favorite spot to launch is at sail cove, where you launch by a large swim area, and often see others getting ready to paddle as well. I have run into people I have seen at races up and down the coast more than once here.
The lake is about 5 miles in perimeter. This mileage should go up in early 2018, when the restoration on the dam at Lake Perris is completed. Due to safety concerns the lake was partially drained in 2014 so the dam could be made to withstand a larger earthquake where that ever to occur in the area. To do this work they needed to keep the lake at a decidedly low level.If you’re still not convinced consider that earlier this year LA completed talks with the state of California to hold sprint rowing and canoeing events at Lake Perris in the 2028 Olympics. You can paddle there now, and then tell everyone you are watching the olympics with about how you paddle that course all the time.
Parking - Even on busy weekends there seems to be space. This is largely due to the fact that in places like Sail Cove you can park right up next to the water in addition to the parking lots.
Entrance Fee - $10, but a state parks annual pass is under $200 and that will get you into all but a few of the state parks in California, including most of the beach state parks.
Food and coffee - On Ramona Expressway, your likely path to the lake, there is Starbucks, but I have not found anything else around. There are also several little burrito spots here. All the ones I have tried are solid, but none are amazing. Like any burrito though they will taste better if you paddle more/harder.
Launch area - Huge. There is space for you to rig, launch, picnic, set up your ez-up, and still walk a hundred yards to the other paddlers who just pulled up.
Lake Rules to know - If you go outside the swim buoys then you are supposed to maintain a counterclockwise direction. No cutting across the lake.
Team Writer Bret Warner - Paddling truly got its hooks into me when I, on a whim, watched the 1999 Santa Cruz Paddlefest with my dad. I had kayaked a little before, but from then on the addiction was palpable. My first kayak, a purple and turquoise Necky Rip, came soon after. The following year I was that kid at UCSD who had a surf kayak in the common study area instead of a surfboard in my dorm room. I also taught sea kayaking all through college in San Diego, and up in Santa Cruz after I graduated.
When SUP came around, however, the paddling addiction became even more rabid. The garage started to fill up with different types of boards, and is now more than half full of hollow wood boards I have built myself,both for environmental reasons, and because it’s awesome to get to talk about how you built your own board when people ask you about it after a race. I love the paddle racing scene in California right now. Everyone is so stoked to be on the water competing, and the fierce competition is matched by the smiling faces when the race is over. I have gotten to paddle crafts that I never really considered before, and can see myself getting hooked all over again on something else: prone, OC-1, surfski,whatever, I just need more garage space.
Three years ago I founded the non-profit Stand up to Alzheimer’s. An organization that raises money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research through paddle races. This organization was born from lacking a tangible way of dealing with my father’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, but has now become a way, hopefully, for other to help cope as well. Visit us at www.sup2alzh.weebly.com.