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Santa Fe Dam Circular Hike

Santa Fe Reservoir, Irwindale

Walk Distance: 3.2 miles / 5 km

Walk Duration: 2hrs 30 with plenty of time for spotting ducks, testing out the play parks and picnic stops.

Suitable for: Kids in carriers, strollers (all-terrain stroller best as half on dirt track), good little walkers, all the family.

Walk Features: Lovely lake and mountain views, wildlife – ducks, lizards, birds, bike/scooter friendly trails, restrooms, play parks, summer water play, grills and picnic tables.

Kate says: 

“The Santa Fe Dam Circular Hike is a great wander for all the family. It can be easily adapted to include just the stroller / scooter stretch along the southern shore of the reservoir and includes lots of interest & wildlife for kids along the way. We saw a roadrunner and turkey vultures and had a great time exploring the play parks! After your walk enjoy the many recreational facilities at Santa Fe Dam to make a day of it.”

Walk Description:

The Santa Fe Dam Circular Hike starts at the Nature Center parking lot, but for a slightly shorter hike you can also start it at any of the parking lots along the southern shore of Santa Fe Reservoir.

Begin the hike at the Nature Center. ( /// above.embraced.spokes) Even when it is not open there are some handy information boards outside that will tell you about the special habitat and wildlife that inhabits it.

Santa Fe Dam Recrational Area Nature Center

Turn left following the path behind the nature center. This leads out onto the paved bike track intersection. You should turn your back to the impressively long, straight paved bike track (perfect for mini cyclists) and head left towards where the paved track gives way to dirt.

Santa Fe Dam bike track, Iwindale, California. USA.
The bike track right outside the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center is ideal for mini cyclists/scooters, especially on week days when it is virtually empty!

Continue straight on this dirt track. Eventually you will come to a cross-roads by a little pond (///domestic.alleges.sanded) . Continue on straight ahead.

This will bring you to the edge of the Santa Fe Reservoir (the starting/end point if you choose to begin your hike from the reservoir parking lots). From here the paths are paved all along the southern side of the reservoir and regularly interspersed with restrooms, picnic tables, grills and play parks ( at . This is the section of the hike that is perfect for little people in regular strollers, those wanting to scoot or use who need entertainment and frequent breaks!

Lunch stop – Santa Fe Reservoir

The trail continues past the swimming beach (open for swimming/wading in summer only), a boat/bike rental store and the boat launch parking lot. As you head away from the main recreational area you will pass the water play park and several more secluded picnic areas.

Eventually the paved path ends by the furthest picnic area at the end of the reservoir (///wonderfully.adding.hotspot). From here you can choose to retrace your steps (recommended for light-weight strollers) or continue to take in the full loop of the reservoir.

Continue onto the dirt track, heading right and the edge of the reservoir. From here on there is no real shade and the path feels much more wild and secluded. There are lots of birds and lizards for kids to spot.

The wilder, more exposed north side of Santa Fe Reservoir.

Be aware that there are also signs along this stretch to be aware of rattlesnakes and mountain lions. It is incredibly unlikely that you will encounter the latter but it is good to be aware and to keep little children close by when hiking.

Keep following the dirt track, enjoying the occasional glimpses back towards the reservoir. When the path splits off, keep to the right, skirting the edge of the reservoir.

Eventually the path will bend up way from the lake shore, dropping you back onto the track by the crossroads and little pond that you passed at the start of this walk (///domestic.alleges.sanded) .

If you started your hike from the nature center then turn left at the cross-roads and return back up the same dirt track you started out on. For those returning to the reservoir parking lot areas, turn right and the path will take you back to the edge of the reservoir and main recreation area.

Map of Route:


The Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area can be reached by the 492 bus, with the 185 also stopping not far from its northern entrance. The dam is also located on bike paths.

To reach the dam by car, use the address 15501 E. Arrow Highway
Baldwin Park, CA 91706, as just typing in the dam to some sat navs can take you to the incorrect entrance.

Vehicle entry to the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area costs $10 (see website for latest/seasonal parking fees)

This route starts from the Nature Center which can be reached by turning right at the bottom of the park entrance ramp and then left. (///incurs.recital.glades)

Rate this walk:

5/5 - (1 vote)

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