Beyond Your Wildest Dreams: Loch Lomond

Nestled deep amongst the tree-lined peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains lies one of the best-kept secrets of the San Lorenzo Valley: Loch Lomond Reservoir. The pristine lake’s crystalline blue waters are encompassed by a lush evergreen forest, providing an abundance of natural space to explore and discover. Listen to the serene sound of the lake’s waves lapping against the shore as you soak in the spectacular scenery that makes Loch Lomond a place that goes beyond your wildest dreams!   

Leave the coastal fog layer behind as you weave your way up the winding roads of Mount Hermon, meandering through quaint mountain locales as you gain elevation. When you reach the peak, the sun’s shining rays greet you at the summit oasis. 

The water looks so refreshing, partially because of how fresh this water truly is: the lake is mainly used as a reservoir, storing drinking water for the people living in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area. While taking a dip is not an option, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Loch Lomond. From hiking to fishing, picnicking, and boating, this hidden gem is filled with an abundance of activities to explore!  

Discover one of the loch’s many sheltered coves as you glide along its cerulean shores in your vessel of choice. Boats are available to rent for your visit, or you can hop aboard the Newell Jewell, a pontoon boat that provides free tours around this immaculate waterway during the second weekend of each month. Bring your fishing poles and cast out: Loch Lomond is stocked with a variety of fish throughout the season. While you’re on the water, make sure to peruse Clarr Innis Island, situated in the middle of the lake, which makes an idyllic spot for a picnic after a morning of fishing!  

The man-made freshwater lake was named after the far-flung, picturesque Loch Lomond that sprawls throughout the Scottish Highlands. It even has its own Clarr Innis Island and rests at the feet of a mountain called Ben Lomond. The local Loch Lomond is situated next to its very own Ben Lomond, a nearby town where the tradition of Scottish namesakes began in the region.  

The 150-foot-deep, 175-acre lake is surrounded by trails that traverse the flourishing forests encompassing Loch Lomond. Wander along the southern shore’s Loch trail, which offers sublime waterfront views, or trek to the Big Trees Nature Trail for a chance to admire the old-growth redwoods in this area. Birdwatching is a treat here, with bald eagles and osprey soaring above the loch. Discover more of the local flora and fauna as you roam through the wooded trails and float along the waters!  

This stunning landscape is one of Santa Cruz’s best-kept secrets and for good reason. Perched at the peak of Mount Hermon, Loch Lomond’s serene sapphire centerpiece rests amidst a sea of emerald evergreens, a beautiful natural terrain that goes beyond your wildest dreams!  

Things to Know Before Your Go: 

  • Loch Lomond is seasonal: Operating from March through mid-October, hours vary. More details here
  • Vehicle Fee $10, Season Pass $100
  • Arrive early to snag one of the limited parking spaces closest to the lake. 
  • Swimming or contact with the water is prohibited. 
  • There are 12 miles of hiking trails to explore around the loch: 
  • Loch Trail: 2½  mile, mostly flat 
  • Highland Loop: 4 miles, extremely steep 
  • Big Trees Nature Trail: ¾ mile, extremely steep  
  • Maclaren Loop: 1½ miles, slight climb 
  • Rent an electric motorboat or a rowboat from the Park Store, or call ahead to reserve your boat: 831-335-7424 
  • Fishing is welcome, and licenses can be obtained from the Park Store. 
  • Picnicking is available at many parts of the park. Bring your own charcoal if you plan to BBQ. 
  • Beginning in April, free boat tours of Loch Lomond on the Newell Jewell are offered during the second weekend of each month, Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM-noon. Tours can accommodate 25 people, and you can sign up at the Park Store.  First come, first served.
  • Loch Lomond Recreation Area is dog-friendly, so bring your pup along! Leashes are required, and make sure they stay on trail and out of the water! And of course, clean up after your pooch. 
  • Check out the “Loch Walks” that are hosted by a variety of ornithologists, botanists, and more. Discover dates and more information here.   
  • Please respect this natural space and keep it natural for years to come. Pack your trash, carpool, and leave it better than you found it.