Lake Jennings San Diego is the perfect place to connect with nature this summer!

If you’re looking for a family-friendly getaway near San Diego, look no further than Lake Jennings. The picturesque setting is a lovely place to spend sun-soaked days surrounded by natural beauty.

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Lake Jennings is one of San Diego’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation. San Diego locals love to spend long weekends camping at Lake Jennings and enjoying the many activities that the area offers. 

If you’re looking for a natural adventure without having to travel too far from the bustling metropolis of downtown San Diego, hop in the car and head to Lake Jennings. You’ll love being surrounded by rolling hills, lush forests, and gorgeous scenery. It has all the elements of a wilderness retreat, yet it is only a short drive from town.

About Lake Jennings Park

Lake Jennings Park is a drinking water reservoir located in San Diego County. It is located about a half hour from downtown San Diego in a pristine natural setting and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and activities like boating, hiking, fishing, and more. The area is well-loved and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful parks in the San Diego region.

In addition to being recognized for its stunning natural beauty, Lake Jennings is also a crucial source of drinking water for the San Diego suburbs. The lake itself is a drinking water reservoir. Water is stored there and then undergoes several treatments and filtrations before it is delivered to the homes of San Diego families. Lake Jennings and the surrounding area are managed by Helix Water District, which is a not-for-profit public water system managed by government agencies. Since the lake is an important source of drinking water, swimming is not permitted in the lake, and dogs are not allowed in the water.

On a trip to Lake Jennings, you can enjoy feeling as though you're immersed in the wilderness - even if it is only for a short afternoon picnic. There are ample facilities like picnic tables, restrooms, boat rentals, and play areas for kids. Due to its lush wooded surroundings and ample fresh water, the area is also an amazing place to spot birds and wildlife.

Where is Lake Jennings?

Lake Jennings is located in Lakeside, California. It can be reached from downtown San Diego in a little over a half hour by car, making it a quick and easy destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

If you’re visiting San Diego for the first time, it’s worth carving out some time in your itinerary to take a trip to Lake Jennings. The natural beauty and mountainous landscape offer a welcome contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city, without ever having to exit San Diego County - making it one of the region's top attractions.

How to Reach Lake Jennings Park

To reach Lake Jennings by car, simply hop on I-5 and head south. Take CA-94 and I-8 E all the way to Lake Jennings Park Road and follow the signs. You should reach the park in just over 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you're without a vehicle during your stay in San Diego, fear not! You can still easily visit Lake Jennings through San Diego's excellent public transportation system. San Diego’s popular tram will take you over half the way there. Take the orange line about 50 minutes all the way to Arnele Avenue Station in El Cajon.

From there, you can take a bus, or hire a taxi or Uber to drive you the remaining 10 minutes to Lake Jennings. While this isn’t the quickest way to reach Lake Jennings, it is definitely a great option for San Diego locals who are opting for a car-free lifestyle or tourists who aren’t keen on renting a car during their stay.

Alternatively, you can hire a taxi or Uber directly from downtown San Diego. It certainly won't be the most budget-friendly option, but it works if you're tight on time and want something quick and convenient.

Best things to do at Lake Jennings

The absolute best thing to do during your visit to Lake Jennings is to simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the region. Locals and tourists alike love visiting Lake Jennings Park over and over again. Popular activities include hiking, camping, and fishing. Whether you simply want to relax on the shore or enjoy the boat rentals when you try to catch a fish, there is so much to enjoy on a visit to Lake Jennings Park.

After your day of hiking, fishing, and outdoor adventures relax with an afternoon picnic at one of the many picnic tables, or take a leisurely walk around the lake before the sunsets. With so much beautiful nature to explore, you won't want to leave - and that's okay because camping at Lake Jennings Campground is the best activity of them all! 

Fishing Lake Jennings

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Whether you're a complete beginner or a pro fisherman, Lake Jennings offers great fishing. Regardless of your skill level, you can rent a boat and spend a day on the water. The lake is stocked with plenty of trout, along with catfish, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish, and bluegill. You might even catch a giant! The current Lake Jennings Campground record was a massive 84.4-pound blue catfish in 2020.

To fish at Lake Jennings, you will need a fishing permit. Fishing from the shoreline is allowed from 8 am until 5 pm daily. Fishing permits can be purchased at the Lake Jennings Campground check-in office near the entrance to the campground.

Each year the lake is stocked with 30,000 pounds of fish! That means there is plenty to go around, and everyone has the chance to leave Lake Jennings with a great fishing story to tell friends and family back home. The best time to fish for trout is between November and April. The best time to fish for catfish is between Memorial Day and Labor Day each summer.

Camping at Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings Campground is a beloved establishment that leaves many guests longing to return year after year. The campground has an incredibly friendly staff, beautiful primitive campsites, and RV sites. Whether you're a bare-bones backpacker with a tiny tent or a luxurious 'glamper' with your own RV, you'll love a visit to Lake Jennings Campground as there are many sites to choose from.

A stay at Lake Jennings Campground is perfect for families with kids, as there are plenty of amenities and activities to keep everyone happy. If you're looking for a wonderful campground to escape to on the weekends, look no further than Lake Jennings Campground in Lakeside.

Lake Jennings Campground (+6)

Address: 10108 Bass Rd, Lakeside CA 92040

Lake Jennings Campground is one of the most popular spots for camping in San Diego County. Year after year, campers leave glowing reviews about their vacations at the campground. The property is owned by Helix Water District (a not-for-profit public water system) - the same water service system that oversees the larger Lake Jennings Park.

The 97-space campground is open throughout the year, which allows visitors and locals to take advantage of San Diego’s incredible weather regardless of the season.

RV Sites

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Lake Jennings Campground has 35 sites with full hookups including water, electricity, and sewage that are perfect for RV campers. There are also 17 sites with partial hookups that offer electricity and water. Dump stations are available onsite for those who choose the partial hook-up sites.  

Tent Sites

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In addition to the full-service RV sites, there are 39 non-hookup primitive tent sites. Don’t have your own tent? Not to worry! For the ultimate camping experience, you can rent one of five tipi sites. 

Group Campsite

If you’re planning a large group event or a family reunion, you can reserve the Super Site which accommodates up to twelve people. The site comes with a half-enclosed pavilion, picnic tables, and a fire ring.


Throughout the campground, you’ll find very clean bathrooms with flush toilets and showers with hot water. The restrooms and showers at the campground are open 24 hours.  Free WIFI is available throughout the campground, so you’ll never have to worry about missing a notification. Firewood, ice, and propane can be purchased onsite.

Things to do at Lake Jennings Campground

The most popular activities at Lake Jennings Campground are fishing, wildlife spotting, hiking, and boating. Shore fishing is permitted daily, and on the weekends the campground offers boat rentals. You can even bring your own boat to launch from the dock. There is an onsite bait and tackle shop where visitors can purchase bait, tackle, snacks, camping gear, and non-alcoholic beverages. 

Lake Jennings has miles of hiking trails with appropriate routes for all levels. The 5.5-mile hike around the lake is a great option if you’re looking for something flat and beautiful. Another hiking trail runs east of the park and climbs into the ridgeline of El Monte Valley. Smaller trails run throughout the campground as well.

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In addition to the natural wonders, the campground has plenty of great group activities, allowing visitors the ability to kick back and bond with friends and loved ones. Fire rings are available for rent in the Hermit Cove area of Lake Jennings each month and they make for beautiful nights gathered around the fire pit with loved ones telling stories and roasting s’mores.

The rentals include chairs, 2 bundles of firewood, a fire starter, and assistance with setting up. There will always be a ranger nearby to help light and extinguish fires to keep things safe and avoid wildfires. The fire pit rentals are very popular, so it is best to book them well in advance. Other events include the Lakeside Tailgate which includes hotdogs and picnic snacks.

Fun lovers of all ages can enjoy campground games like horseshoe pits, ladder golf, ping pong, giant Jenga, tetherball, and corn hole. There’s also a big group pavilion and a covered playground for little ones.

With so many outdoor amenities and activities, it is easy to see why Lake Jennings is one of the top outdoor recreation attractions near San Diego, California.