Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

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** No-Trespassing Zone**

This page is for Savage Dam specifically. The dam was originally completed in 1897 by the Southern California Mountain Water Company. It was a rock-fill type but due to heavy rains in 1916, (rumored to have been created by the infamous rainmaker Charles Hatfield) the dam burst, killing 14 people.

Construction of the Savage Dam

The flood filled the Otay Valley with walls of water ranging from 20 to 100 feet in height! Entire farms and buildings were swept away. Charles Hatfield, who had been hired by the City of San Diego to assist in increasing rainfall to fill nearby Morena Reservoir, was deemed responsible for the flood and the city attempted to sue him.

Celebrating the first spill from the Lower Otay reservoir

After this event the present Arch-gravity dam was built in 1918 and given the name Savage Dam. The Lower Otay Reservoir, which this dam was created for, has a water storage capacity of 49,848.9 acre feet.

And here is our adventure...


Nothing about this area is safe and it is indefinitely a no-trespassing zone. Please use these photos for reference-only.


It appears that the cliff side may have been used as a rock quarry:


The dam can be appreciated from higher peaks along the designated hiking trails. The views are beautiful:


So this is when things got really creepy. The 4 of us (my friend and our 2 dogs) were hanging out in this tunnel.....


We were sitting in the tunnel and my friend starts making strange sounds. Suddenly he remarks "Hey! I just found the resonant frequency of the tunnel!" Immediately after he said this two snarling coyotes came running straight for us. We obviously freaked out and at the last second they changed directions. Is this tunnel one of their lookout spots? Did the strange sound attract them or did they see our dogs but not us and were heading in for a kill? No matter what, it was a surreal experience!

Here is Sage observing my friend making the "tunnel vibration":


Definitely time to get out of there!

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1 Review


  • Thomas K.
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    I worked at the water plant next to the lake and walked across and inside the dam. There’s lots of wildlife and I fed some friendly raccoons.

    May 8, 2016

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