A Guide To Lake Vacations in Northern California’s Plumas County

Water. It has so much power in life. In California, water is a precious commodity. However, those looking to escape and discover water’s beauty and healing power to the soul only need to drive into the Feather River basin. With 1,000 miles of streams and over 100 lakes, the Feather River basin is California’s most water-rich destination.

The water, a source of life, riches and growth, has brought life to this secluded region of the state for generations. An area steeped in history, today’s feather region basin is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and vacation travelers looking to escape the crowds and busy life of the city.
Travelers are welcomed by rushing rivers and steep canyons that support an extensive train track network, but for many, the destination, in the end, is the Lake.

Which Lake?

That is the correct question. Plumas County and the Feather River basin are home to the eighth-largest Lake in California, Lake Almanor. So that is the premier destination for travelers. But you will find in your travels that many lakes surrounding Lake Almanor are perfect for a weekend getaway or family vacation. And a few might become your favorite mountain destination retreat.

In our visits to Plumas County region over the years, I have come to enjoy the variety of lake experiences in this part of my travels. We have spent time hiking, fishing and swimming in several of the area’s more prominent and easy-to-get-to lakes. In addition, my wife and I have vacationed here in the off seasons to escape the hustle of everyday life and enjoy the mountains in their purest and quietest forms.

So we hope you will enjoy our Guide to Lake vacations in the Feather River Basin:

Town of Quincy Ca
Quincy Ca. gateway to Bucks Lake

How to get to the Feather River Basin:
The Feather River Basin is Located North of Truckee, California and West of Lake Oroville. The main Highways in the region are Highway 70, heading East from Lake Oroville and Highway 89, North from Truckee. Reno and Eastern Sierra residents often head North of 395 to Hallelujah Junction, where they will meet up with the 70.

When considering Lake vacations in this part of the state, there are a few factors to consider in finding your perfect location.
Resort Destinations or Bed and Breakfast style lodging is plentiful in your travels, as well as RV campgrounds and dude ranch accommodations. Of Course, wilderness backpacking and dispersed camping are popular in this portion of the Sierra.

Feature Lake Destinations

Lake Almanor
Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor – 52 miles of lake shoreline just waiting to be explored. A top-rated fishing destination year-round in California and home to the annual professional bass tournament, Lake Almanor is a classic American family lake destination.
Three Marinas support Lake Almonor:

  • Big Cove Resort
  • Plumas Pines
  • Knotty Pines

Plus 5 Public Access Beaches areas for picnics, swimming, kayak launch etc., for families to enjoy. The Scenic value is off the charts on a clear day on the Lake.

The Dixie fire affected Lake Almanor, and several areas near the Lake were burnt extensively. Still, the Lake area is stunning all around the Lake, and the burn areas are already showing signs of recovery.

Boat Rentals, Kayaks and guide services are all available around the Lake in multiple locations, and the Town of Chester on the North edge of the Lake has all the rural town amenities you would like on a family vacation, including burgers & ice cream cones, fuel stops and more.
Staying at Lake Almanor
Lake Almanor is lucky to have just about every lodging option available. Lake Almanor has it all, from fantastic vacation rentals on the Lake with direct access to the lake and boat docks to RV parks and camping along the Lake’s edge. Fantastic B&Bs, motels and resorts are a little further from the banks of the Lake but are great alternatives to lakeside housing.. Find the perfect place to stay at Lake Almanor!
Near Lake Almanor, visitors also enjoy Butt Reservoir. on either side of the Lake for great fishing and RV camping options.
Lassen Volcanic National Park South entrances are also nearby for Juniper Lake (Juniper Lake camping Facilities were destroyed in the Dixie Fire)


Bucks Lake and Bucks Lake Wilderness

Bucks lake is a PG&E-managed lake setting at 5200′ in the Sierra. It is located 17 miles from Quincy California and is the doorway to Bucks Lake wilderness. This beautiful mountain lake has 17 miles of shoreline nad is popular for families and adventure enthusiasts all year round. (Winter by snowmobile or cross-country skiing only). The Lake boasts sandy beaches, dramatic boulders, aspen groves, and tall pines. Bucks Lake attracts fishermen, campers, hikers, and water sports enthusiasts in the summer.
Bucks Lake has several lodging and camping options. Haskins Valley Campground is operated by PG&E, and there are several private campgrounds, resorts, and RV spots to choose from for overnight stays.
Boat rentals, jet skis, bait, tackle, and groceries are available at the Lakeshore Resort and the Bucks Lake Marina. Many supplies are also available at the Haskin’s Valley Resort and Store.
Plumas National Forest also operates an interpretive site. At the Sandy Point Public Boat Ramp, there are five campgrounds, a picnic and Day Use areas on the Lake. Learn more about Plumas National Forest amenities at Bucks Lake.
Those who like a little more city life on their vacations will find Quincy a perfect place to stay and enjoy daily drives up to the Bucks lake or afternoons at the river, a relaxing habit. The Quincy Feather Bed Inn is a popular choice for vacationers in Quincy.

Lake Davis
Lake Davis Plumas County near Portola

Lake Davis

Lake Davis is a beautiful mountain lake featuring great fishing, lakeside camping and bald eagle perches along the lakeshore trail. Its location just outside of Portola gives visitors options for their stay. Most tot his area bring thir camp trailers or RV because of the plethora of Rv suitable camp spots near the Lake. Grizzly Campground is a personal favorite of ours if you can reserve a spot. It sits at 5,800 feet and has 32 miles of shoreline.
The Lake is home to a variety of fish. Rainbow, Brook, and Brown Trout. Large-mouth Bass, Brown Bullhead, and Pumpkin Seed.
Getting to the lookout is via logging roads. The road is suitable for driving, hiking, or mountain biking. The elevation gain in a short distance is 2,600 feet.
This is an annual ride held near the Lake. The route varies a little each year. It starts in the City Park in Portola. The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship hosts this ride each year. The ride usually sells out each year. Make sure to register early. If interested in this ride, options of a 35-mile, 60-mile, or 100-mile route are available. Make sure to register early. This ride allows you to experience one of the beautiful backcountry routes in the Lost Sierra and learn more about others great routes.

Gold Lake

The Lakes Basin Lakes

The Lakes Basin is a magical place to disappear and enjoy nature. the Lakes basin with over 20 small lakes, impressive peaks, 30+ miles of trails, waterfalls, and picturesque campgrounds and historic lodges it is a crown jewel in the Plumas National Forest. While only nine miles away from Graeagle, the Lakes Basin Recreation Area truly gives you that “Lost Sierra” feel with world-class trails and high mountain views without the crowds.

Frenchman Lake Plumas County
Frenchman Lake Plumas County

Frenchman Lake

Looking for seclusion and quiet evenings in the mountains. Frenchman is possibly the most accessible mountain lake to escape the crowds and noise of city life?
Frenchman Lake is a top-notch lake for catching rainbow trout and bullhead catfish. The Lake also has Crayfish. There are six fishing access points located around the Lake.
Fishing is available year-round during the winter months; the Lake is an excellent spot for ice fishing. Ice fishing has many inherent dangers associated with it. Goodwin General Store is available by phone for current conditions on the lake call 530-993-4683 for current conditions.
Little Last Chance Scenic Area is the entranceway to Frenchman Lake Recreation Area. It is a ten-minute drive from Chilcot-Vinton on route 284. Even if Frenchman Lake is not your destination, this is worth a stop.

Butt Valley Reservoir

Butt Valley Reservoir

Located next to Lake Almanor, Butt Valley reservoir is a great lake for family fun. Butt Reservoir is known for trophy-size trout, averaging 18 inches. Butt Valley is open year-round for fishing. Butt Creek opens the Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30th.
Looking for a laid-back, quiet lake with great fishing? Butt Lake is a good choice for a family camping trip offering solitude while fishing. This Lake is suited to those who would like to fish without speed boats nearby. The speed limit is five miles per hour. Water skiing and jet skis are not allowed on the Lake.
This picturesque mountain lake lies at an elevation of 4,150 feet and is five miles long and about three-quarters of a mile across.
The Lake is a short distance form Chester and is quieter than Lake Almanor.
2021 Dixie Fire burned this area, and the impacts of this megafire will be seen for many years to come.
While the views have changed, the Lake and surrounding lands remain beautiful, and the fire presents an opportunity to watch natural regrowth and recovery.
Butt Valley is an ideal lake for canoeing, kayaking, and sail boating. Bring your floaties, relax in the water, and soak up the sun.

Antelope Lake

Antelope Lake lies above Indian Valley in the Plumas National Forest, about 30 miles northeast of Taylorsville. It is a quiet and remote mountain lake making it a favorite spot for fishermen, families, and those who want to escape the bustle of busier lakes. The elevation of the Lake is 5,069 feet and it has nearly 15 miles of shoreline to explore by boat, kayak, or paddle board.

Thank you for reading our Sierra Rec magazine March 2023 Spring edition. If you liked this content please share it with friends and consider Joining our community and supporting our writers. We offer a great annual donation subscription program for $18 a year with 40% Donated back to local trail programs.



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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