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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Wueste Rd
Chula Vista, CA 91914

32.648890, -116.932403
Hike: 2.1 mile loop trail     Level: Easy

Dog-Friendly: Yes (though be careful of glass)     Kid-Friendly: Yes



**Make sure to check out our list of hidden gems in Chula Vista!**

About Upper Otay Reservoir & Dam

The smallest of the City of San Diego’s impounding reservoirs, Upper Otay Reservoir was established in 1959 as a hatchery for the propagation and introduction of Florida-strain largemouth bass. Remarkably, 21 of the 25 largest bass in history were the progeny of the fingerlings used in that experiment.

The reservoir has been open to the public since 1996. When full, Upper Otay Reservoir has 20 surface acres. Water levels are monitored weekly.

The gates to Upper Otay Reservoir are open on a seasonal schedule from February 1 through October 31 (weather permitting). Pedestrian access is allowed for fishing on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday on a year-round basis.
Map to Otay Reservoir

Note: the dam is now fenced off

Hike Upper Otay Lake in Chula Vista and explore one of San Diego's coolest graffiti dams and reservoirs

There are no barbecues or picnic tables at Upper Otay. Patrons can bring self-contained gas barbecues for use in designated areas only. No ground fires or glass containers are allowed. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and at least 50 feet away from the water.

There are no concession services at Upper Otay. Daily permits may be purchased at the Iron Ranger pay station (bring exact change) onsite or at nearby Lower Otay Reservoir. There is no camping allowed at Upper Otay.

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Savage Dam nearby!

Upper Otay offers fishing for Florida-strain largemouth bass, bluegill, and bullhead. Fishing is offered on a catch and release (zero kill) basis, with barbless artificial lures only for all species of fish. Anglers 16 years of age or older must have a California state fishing license.

State fishing licenses are not available at Upper Otay. Fish catch information is updated weekly.

Patrons can use float tubes, waders, or simply fish from shore, no boats allowed. Use of float tubes is restricted to within 150 feet or less from shore.

Float tubers must wear chest waders and have a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device readily available at all times, and have 144 square inches of international orange visible at least 12 inches above the water line.

They must also possess a horn or whistle to warn approaching craft. Any float tube that uses oars or has a motor must purchase a private boat use permit for $7.00.

The dam was built in 1901, shortly after the dam at Lower Otay was completed. The reservoir served only as an emergency reserve for Lower Otay until it was determined to be a likely hatching ground for an experimental fish transplantation project.


Personal Experience

We stumbled upon this lake during our exploration of Proctor Valley Rd. What a neat surprise to come across two lakes and the 2nd coolest dam I’ve discovered so far in San Diego (the only one better would be the dam in Lake Hodges). The hike was nice and we found what looked like an abandoned commune on the way although it’s quite possible that somebody lives in one of the homes. There looked to be at least 5 or 6 homes, some obviously run-down and abandoned. Made for some cool photos.

We found what looked like at least a semi-abandoned commune. I am not sure if people live in some of the houses though.  Apparently there was a very gruesome murder on this compound in the 80’s:become a member

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3 Reviews

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Overall Rating 0
Difficulty Finding 0

3 Reviews


  • Your Mum
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    It is not scary I went to the end and did not hear anything and I was not scared?

    May 29, 2017

  • Anonymous
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Surely many have plummeted to their death here which explains the many grave markers and also the barbed wire fences.

    January 26, 2020

  • Grace Roberts
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    I have never been to this area but I’m reading a book about the Border Patrol Agents and the many ghostly encounters they’ve had.
    Many agents have died here hence the markers. One in particular was Lou Santiago who fell to his death in March, 1995 in the line of duty. He was said to haunt the area looking for justice. He found it when ‘someone’ caused a smuggler of illegal immigrants to fall from the Otay Mesa dam. Very strange and eerie place.

    February 18, 2021

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