Lake Almanor Recreation Trail

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.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Golden Gate's Blue Heron

    Golden Gate Park’s Blue Heron Lake is home to birds of many feathers, turtles lounging on rocks, visitors from afar, and locals who love this urban oasis in San Francisco. Try the "Boats and Breakfast" rowboat or pedal boat deal.

    View
  2. Cañada Collage

    This 4.3-mile loop through Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve showcases all the highlights of the season, thrumming with wildlife and wildflowers.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hike Kortum Trail on the Sonoma Coast

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Camp at Goose Lake in the Lakes Basin

    Duck, Duck, Goose!

    Try to get a first-come, first-served campsite at one of the Lakes Basin’s lakeside campgrounds. We love Goose Lake Campground, where there are just 13 sites and no motorized boats.

    View
  2. Fancy Camp

    Wanna go rugged on the coast, minus the whole pitching your own tent and sleeping on the ground bit? Mendocino Grove is spot-on for upgrading your roughing-it experience, with beautifully appointed tent-cabins set across the bluffs overlooking Mendocino Bay.

    View
  3. A Splash of Whiskeytown

    Located just 8 miles west of Redding and surrounded by mountain peaks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is nearly 40,000 acres of all things outdoors: waterfalls, campgrounds, beaches, hiking trails, and a beautiful crystal-clear lake at the center of it all.

    View
  4. Bucks Up!

    Come on in, the water is beautiful. Whether you like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, or heading out on a bigger boat, Bucks Lake is a high mountain haven that’s easy to access, blissfully uncrowded, and surrounded by sandy beaches, picnic areas, pines, and aspens.

    View