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Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:44 am | Updated: 4:38 pm, Wed May 23, 2012.

Lodi Lake Park sits on 114 sprawling acres of what was once rich farmland, due to yearly flooding from the Mokelumne River. Swimmers, boaters and picnickers have been drawn to its scenic shores since the city of Lodi bought the land and opened it up for public use in the 1930s.

The area is rich in history. A bell from Salem School, the first school in Lodi, is displayed on the lawn near the Kiwanis picnic area. Years ago, pigs lived on what is currently the swimmer’s beach.

The Discovery Center near the Boat House was originally built as a snack bar to serve summer guests and patrons at the nearby dance hall. Now it serves as an educational center for schoolchildren to learn about the history of the lake and the animals that call it home. Volunteer docents also lead students on walks through the nature area to study the natural riparian ecosystem.

But anyone can take a walk through the nature area during the early morning hours to try and spot a deer or raccoon. Songbirds add a peaceful soundtrack to the shady trails.

Are you a bird-watcher? Local Audobon groups have spotted more than 47 species in a single morning.

If you prefer floating adventures, rent a kayak or pedal boat from the boathouse to explore the area from a completely different vantage point on the water. Keep your eye out for secluded beaches and sandbars to hop out and stretch your legs.

If picnics are more your style, there’s no shortage of grassy knolls, waterfront benches and worn wooden tables ready for a blanket tablecloth and your favorite lunchtime treats. Just be sure not to feed the ducks that will surely swim up to you on the shore.

Families and groups can make their own fun at the park, whether swimming at the beach or relaxing with a fishing pole.

But the whole town turns out for the annual Fourth of July celebration. There are picnics and a festival topped off by a fireworks show after nightfall.

Lodi Lake Park is the site of many happy memories for the community. Come out this summer and take in the view.

Lodi Lake at a glance

The park has five covered picnic areas that can be rented through the Parks and Recreation Department at

125 N. Stockton St. in Lodi:

Ron Williamson Youth

Area

Hughes Beach

Parsons Point

The Rotary Area

Kiwanis Area

The Boat House is open on weekends year round, and open during the week from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Pedal boats and kayaks are available for rent. The boat launch on site is open from 8 a.m. to twilight.

For more information, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 209-333-6742.

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