What To Do At Lake Almanor
August 31, 2017 by: Sharon Roberts
There’s a lot to do in the Lake Almanor Basin. One of the largest lakes in Northern California, with 52 miles of shoreline, Lake Almanor is situated in the unique geological area where the granite of the Sierra Nevada’s meets up with the lava of the Cascade mountain range. From Lake Almanor, you can explore the Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lassen National Forest, and the Caribou Wilderness, or simply spend your time on the beautiful lake, taking advantage of its tranquil campgrounds and first-rate water sport opportunities. If you prefer not to camp, please consider staying at St. Bernard Lodge, located just minutes from Lake Almanor. Lake Almanor and the surrounding area is a popular vacation spot for families, but it is also the perfect place for a solo hiking or cycling trip. If you want, you can even experience the region’s beauty without leaving your car. Here are the St. Bernard Lodge’s top picks for What to Do at Lake Almanor.
Hike the Lake Almanor Basin
Lake Almanor boasts miles of beautiful shoreline trails, peaceful forested roads, and scenic mountain vistas. The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is an easy, 11-mile hike through cedar forests and sprawling meadows offering unbeatable views of the Lake Almanor, Dyer Mountain, and Lassen Volcanic National Park. The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is paved and wide enough for both cyclists and hikers to enjoy. In the winter months, it is a great trail to use when first learning to snowshoe or cross-country ski. From the trail, you can also spot bald eagles and osprey taking fish from Lake Almanor. Another option not far from Lake Almanor is the Humbug Summit to Humboldt Peak hike, which is actually part of the 2,659 mile Pacific Crest Trail.
While exploring the Humbug Valley, pay a visit to Soda Spring. Soda Spring was a special place for the local Mountain Maidu tribe and early California immigrants. The groundwater at Soda Spring flows through calcium carbonate rocks, creating a characteristic fizz almost like you are drinking a can of soda. This natural soda spring has been used for generations by the Maidu tribe and local ranchers. At one time, the Valley had several local hotels and businesses, giving the area a distinct resort atmosphere. Now, it is a perfect place to get off the main road to enjoy some nature and solitude. Today’s locals takes a little vodka to muddle in with the soda water for a unique Soda Springs cocktail. Spring time the Humbug Valley is also full of beautiful wildflowers. Occasionally you can take a tour with Beverly Ogle, a Mountain Maidu elder and an expert on the history of the Humbug Valley. Ask for her at the Yellow Creek Campground.
To get to Soda Spring from Lake Almanor, take Humbug Road (County Road 307) approximately 6 miles in (mile post 6) and follow the signs to Yellow Creek Campground. Soda Spring is about 1 mile south of the intersection. GPS coordinates are N40 8.518’ and W121 14.655’.
Lake Almanor is a cycler’s paradise. Many cyclers flock to Lake Almanor to enjoy the fresh alpine air while passing through sparkling lakes, dense forests, and breathtaking mountain ranges. Lake Almanor has hosted The Mile High 100 Bike Ride for 35 years. This event takes place on the Saturday of Father’s Day Weekend each year. Lassen Volcanic National Park usually hosts a vehicle-free day sometime in the spring to early summer, allowing cyclists to ride down the park's main road. This is a weather dependent event, so please contact us at St. Bernard Lodge and we will add you to a special notification for this event.
We love the Bizz Johnson Trail, once the roadbed of the Southern Pacific’s Fernley & Lassen Branch Railway but now a popular hiking and biking route. Take this trail to follow the paths of old steam engines pulling lumber through the Sierra Nevadas. The fall is a perfect time to bike or hike the Bizz Johnson Trail. In October, the Bureau of Land Management provides a shuttle service and offers a guided bike ride along the Bizz. If you have a group of 6 or more, call the Bureau of Land Management at 530-257-0456 to arrange their special shuttle service.
New this fall is the Century & Gravel Grinder Ride, scheduled for September 23rd. For more information on this event visit the Bear Growl Century website.
For local expert advice on cycling visit Chuck at Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mountain Sports. He is our local expert on both mountain biking and road cycling. He has some great hand drawn maps of local routes available at his shop or on his website. He can also help with repairs.
During the summer, lake temperatures can reach 75 degrees, making it ideal for all types of water sports. You can do it all on Lake Almanor: boating, water-skiing, wake boarding, sailing, jet-skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, inner tubing, and more. The lake is also the perfect spot for a warm and tranquil swim.
Lake Almanor Kayak Rentals has kayaks, paddleboards and bicycles for rent. They are located in Canyon Dam near the south end of Lake Almanor. Major’s Outpost has jet skis, waverunners, ski boats, pontoon boats, and fishing boats for rent. They also provide life vests and water toys. They are located on the west shore of Lake Almanor near the Plumas Pines Resort and Marina.
The Lake Almanor Basin is also a popular fishing destination, renowned for its abundant Trout, and featuring both stillwater and stream fly fishing within the Basin. Deer Creek, Mill Creek, Yellow Creek, North Fork of the Feather River and Hamilton Branch all have great stream fishing, while Lake Almanor, Butt Lake, Antelope Lake and Round Valley Reservoir all offer great stillwater fishing. Round Valley Reservoir is a particularly good option when fishing with young children.
There are two public boat launches if you are traveling with your own boat:
- Forest Service Ramp at the Canyon Dam Picnic Area. Located at the Junction of Hwy. 147 and Hwy. 89, it has picnic tables and fire pits, restrooms, a 3 lane ramp, launch/load dock, and no fee
- Forest Service Ramp on the West Shore. Located 1 mile off Hwy. 89 on Almanor Drive West, in the U.S. Forest Service campground area, it has restrooms, a public beach, launch/load dock, and no fee
If you are traveling with your boat, St. Bernard Lodge has plenty of parking available.
St. Bernard Lodge is welcome to guests traveling with their own horse(s). The Lodge can accommodate up to 10 horses for registered guests. We have maps and information on many great riding trails that start right from the Lodge or are a short trailer ride away. Plumas Pines Stables offer trail rides near Lake Almanor from Memorial Weekend to Labor Day, and Drakesbad offer rides from June through September.
Bring your golf clubs along when you visit Lake Almanor! There are four excellent golf courses close to Lake Almanor and St. Bernard Lodge. The closest to the Lodge is Lake Almanor West Golf Course, 9 holes par 36. On the peninsula is Bailey Creek, 18 holes par 72 or Lake Almanor Country Club, 9 holes par 35/36. South of Lake Almanor in Indian Valley is Mt. Huff, with a 9-hole course. A personal favorite, especially when traveling with kids, is the miniature 9-hole golf course at Paul Bunyan Resort on the peninsula.
For something a little different, visit the Wilson Lake Ice Caves. Part of the adventure is finding the caves. Take highway 36 to WIlson Lake Road 29 &63, then make a right onto the 29 N 19 Road. Next, find the E. Spur Road off of 29 N 19 until you find the tree marked “Ice” in blue paint. Once you’ve arrived, enter the caves to explore ice and amazing rock formations buried deep inside the earth. If you are into geocaching, there is a cache near the ice caves as well.
Drive the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road is a 500 mile route that stretches from Crater Lake in Southern Oregon to Lassen Volcanic Park in Northern California. It is one of just 27 All American Roads that criss-cross the United States, known as the “jewels” of the interstate system. If you drive the whole route, you’ll pass through shimmering lakes, dense forests, waterfalls, obsidian flows, wetlands, striking mountain ranges, farms and ranches, and of course, volcanoes. However, you don’t have to drive the whole route to experience its majesty. The Lake Almanor basin makes up the southernmost point of the Volcanic Scenic Byway. Driving this route is the perfect way to explore the small town of Chester, catch beautiful views of lake, mountains, and forests, and experience the wonder of both the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascades. In addition to the wonderful stops in Lassen Park, consider stopping at the Olsen Barn near the causeway over the north end of Lake Almanor, Hat Creek Rim Overlook, Spattercone Trail, Subway Caves and Burney Falls.
Drive the Feather River Canyon Scenic Byway
The Feather River Scenic Byway is a 130 mile route just south of St. Bernard Lodge. The Byway starts 8 miles north of Oroville on Highway 70 and continues through Quincy and into the Sierra Valley and the western edge of the Great Basin. Our favorite stops along this route include:
- Pulga Bridge: A bridge spanning 680 feet with both ends perched on rocky outcroppings, and the North Fork of the Feather River approximately 200 feet below
- Rock Tunnels: Arch Rock, Elephant Butte, and Grizzly Dome
- The Keddie Wye: An impressive engineering feat, this “Y” shaped railroad junction is the only trestle of its kind in the world
- Eastern Plumas: Explore Plumas Eureka State Park and Western Pacific Railroad Museum. If you have ever dreamed of operating a diesel locomotive, you can do so here. Find out more about their World Famous “Run-A-Locomotive” Program.
- Eby Stamp Grist Mill across from Belden Town (shown below)
Nestled between two striking mountain ranges, Lake Almanor is a place of breathtaking natural splendor and ample opportunities for outdoor adventure. Whether you come to hike, bike, swim, or take a drive, you'll find plenty to amuse yourself during your time at Lake Almanor.
The St Bernard Lodge is located between the SW entrance to Lassen Volcanic Park and Lake Almanor, making it the perfect choice for your next trip. Book a stay now! We've covered the basics, but there is plenty more to see and do in the area. Just give us a call for more information.