Merced, CA

Would you swim in the fabled haunted waters of Lake Yosemite?

Evie M.
creative commons/keith chastain

Merced, CA, was a pleasant town to grow up in back in the '90s. We had decent schools, lots of after-school activities, and fun places to explore during the summer months, like Lake Yosemite. If you've never been there, it's not much. Lake Yosemite is a reservoir built back in 1888 to help with irrigation. The Merced Irrigation District owns the lake and is the supplier of water to the farms of Merced County. The lake is also a recreation area and is managed by the Merced County Parks and Recreation Department.

If you're looking to visit Lake Yosemite, it's a pretty popular site for birthdays, school field trips, and long summer days. Or at least it was back in the nineties when I was a kid. Though I'm not sure what the fees to get in back then were, but to visit today will cost you anywhere from $6-$10 whether you're bringing a vehicle, boat, or bus.

Make sure to bring cash as they don't accept credit cards. Lake Yosemite also offers annual passes for a reasonable rate and discounts for seniors. The lake is also a few miles from UC Merced, which was not there when I was a kid but is a rapidly growing school.

To rent a cove for an event, it'll be a bit pricier with a rental fee of $200 and $100 for cleaning. You can have your choice of the Veteran's Cove, Scouts Cove (for youth groups), the Fish and Game Building, and Rotary Cove 1 and 2. Lake Yosemite is still open to the public and enforcing CDC COVID-19 guidelines.

I can tell you from much experience it is a cool place to take your kids for a day out. But even back then, we knew the rumors. Lake Yosemite is not an average lake. The story, which is only a popular rumor, goes like this.

Years ago, a woman and her children decided to go swimming at Lake Yosemite one day during the summer. If you've never been to Lake Yosemite, there is a boat tower that sometimes children liked to use as a platform to jump into the water. However, this is a very shallow area of the water. When the children dove in, they hit their heads on the rocks. But when police came to find the bodies, they were gone.

The children's mother would come back to the lake again and again until she died. It's said her guilt is what tethered her spirit to Earth. People spoke of witnessing headlights from a car but never seeing or hearing one. Some claimed to see the mother herself strolling on Old Lake Road searching for her children. One report says there was a boy behind a barbecue pit. When asked if he was lost, he ran and hid. However, this area isn't near the boat tower.

I can tell you now I've gone swimming hundreds of times in that lake and never had any experiences. But that doesn't mean you can't go exploring for yourself. And while I wouldn't swim in the lake again after thinking about the time we all stepped in fish guts, if you're looking for something to do with the family in Merced, Lake Yosemite is a good option.

Would you go swimming in Lake Yosemite? Have you heard the stories?

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"Reader beware, you're in for a scare!--R.L. Stine"

Orlando, FL

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