Porcupine Reservoir

Paul Nielson fishes at Porcupine Reservoir on Friday afternoon. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal)

PORCUPINE RESERVOIR - Peer pressure can mount quickly at this off-the-beaten-path retreat.

Standing at the edge of a sheer cliff, looking down into the blue water, the pressure to jump is often high - especially if a line is forming behind the diver on deck.

But if cliff jumping isn't your thing, swim, fish, canoe or wade in a few inches of cool water at one of a dozen small beaches around this Cache Valley oasis.

Porcupine Reservoir sits near the mouth of East Canyon about seven miles southeast of Paradise. First-time visitors admit it can be difficult to find but well worth the trip and surprisingly versatile in things to do and see.

"It's a hidden treasure; I didn't even know it was here," says Becky Roundy of West Haven. "This is the first time I've been here, and it's beautiful. It's quiet, peaceful, there's not a lot of recreational vehicles, and it's just very serene and pretty."

Roundy stayed at nearby Cinnamon Creek Campground with a youth group during her visit. She and the girls brought canoes to float down the tree-lined lake.

Porcupine Reservoir was completed in 1964 and at the time was the first dam of its size in the state. The 12,800-acre-feet of water attract swimmers, kayakers, picnickers, campers and anyone wanting a quick summertime cool-down.

For a lot of Porcupine visitors, that means jumping into the water from a sheer cliff at the southeast corner of the reservoir.

"I'm not nervous," said first-time jumper Kraig Davis, a Utah State University student who decided to spend his summer vacation in Cache Valley. "I'm excited to have a fun time. I love doing stuff like this."

His friend Lizzie Carson, also a student, said the prospect of leaping into the deep water left her slightly anxious.

"I'm a little nervous because I've never done it before," she said. "But I'm excited; I've never been here before either."

Carson, Davis and two of their friends eased slowly into the cool water, holding their flip-flops in hand like paddles as they swam the 800-foot stretch to the cliff.

"I love Cache Valley in the summer," said Davis before taking off across the water.

Reservoir levels this year are high, meaning easier access to the water and shallow shores. Roundy said the day before she arrived, a family with several young children took advantage of the still waters and clean beaches without going too deep into the water.

Porcupine water is remarkably clear and not too cold for swimming later in the summer season.

The most popular beaches are about a mile and half from the dam itself, but there are places to park elsewhere.

Fishing at Porcupine this year is slower than other spots, anglers say. Rainbow trout and brook trout are commonly fished, and each fall hundreds of bright red kokanee salmon swim up the reservoir's tributary - the Little Bear River - to lay their eggs.

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