The Secret Big Blue
Bike the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail near Chester in Plumas County
Set at 4,500 feet, surrounded by 52 miles of shoreline, and with a sparkling sapphire hue, Lake Almanor is the other big blue. The secret one. This huge lake—idyllic in spring through fall for all kinds of water adventures—is a gem of Plumas County where you can relax without crowds. The lake is closest to the town of Chester, a basecamp oasis for outdoor adventures. That includes the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail, a car-free dirt and paved multi-use path skirting the shoreline, occasionally dipping inland, and unfurling under a fragrant forest of tall pines, with breakaway views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
For an easy bike ride where you can stop at pocket beaches for lake dips, scan the sky for bald eagles, get a gorgeous view of Mount Lassen, and make a mid-way stop for food and drinks, do the 6-mile (one-way) route from Rocky Point Campground to Plumas Pines Resort. Park just outside Rocky Point Campground, where you’ll also find the marked trailhead.
Pedal north on the west side of the lake underneath the pine canopy, passing campsites and enjoying views of the water. The trail is mostly flat, with a few easy inclines to vantages, like a vista point for taking in beautiful Mount Lassen, looming in its namesake (and nearby) national park.
There are multiple places to park your bike and meander out to the lakeside, where you can wade, swim, picnic, relax, and watch the boats float. Keep your ears keen and your eyes open … osprey and bald eagles call this place home, and it’s not uncommon to spy them flying or—if you’re really lucky—fishing.
After a few miles in, you’ll come to Almanor Drive West. Don’t cross over the road. Instead, turn right and follow the trail to Plumas Pines Resort. Their bar and grill overlook the lake, so grab a seat on the patio and place an order. We like their margaritas and burgers. Remember, you do have to pedal 6 miles back, so keep that in mind with whatever you choose as your refuel refreshment.
Find more great places to stay in Plumas County. To do this route on the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail, park in the outlet just before Rocky Point Campground, and follow the trail north. Dog-friendly!
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In episode "56. The Secluded Sierra " Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss their explorations of Plumas County and Lassen Volcanic National Park.
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