Virtually the entire forest is open for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, with options ranging from beginner-level flat, groomed track to challenging peaks and backcountry calling for more advanced telemarking skill. Before venturing off, especially in an unmarked area, make sure to check weather conditions, bring adequate clothing, gear, food and water, and let someone know (a park ranger, friend or relative) where you’re headed.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is just 35 miles from Chester on Highway 36/89. Lassen Volcanic National Park boasts over 150 miles of marked and unmarked trails for non-motorized winter sports. Ranger-led snowshoe hikes and ski tours are held on Saturdays during the winter. Contact Lassen Park (530) 595-4480 for details.
In the Chester-Lake Almanor Area, the Lassen National Forest also leads various weekday snowshoe tours beginning in January. Call (530) 258-2141. An interpretive recreation trail on the west shore of Lake Almanor provides miles of great scenery and easy access. McGowan Ski Area, Colby Meadows, Childs Meadow, Warner Valley Road, and the Caribou Wilderness all afford quiet excursions near Chester.
In Indian Valley, several unplowed roads and trails offer excellent routes for snowshoers and skiers. A favorite is the road leading out to Antelope Lake, beginning just past Genesee.
In the eastern portion of the county, beginner ski trails are maintained in Plumas-Eureka State Park, including the 2.5-mile groomed Jamison Canyon Ski Trail that takes off from the park museum parking lot. Other trails begin at the Eureka Bowl downhill ski area, and more advanced terrain suited for telemarking leads to Eureka Peak.
The Lakes Basin Ski Trail takes off from the Gold Lake Staging Area south of Graeagle in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Open only to non-motorized users, the marked and groomed moderate trail continues 1.5 miles, paralleling Graeagle Creek.
Intermediate and advanced unmarked routes are featured elsewhere in the Lakes Basin, which is also a popular destination for snowmobilers.
The Bucks Lake Area near Quincy is a popular winter sports staging area that offers skiers and snowshoers a marked loop trail as well as miles of backcountry groomed and ungroomed trails. Vehicles are excluded on the Bucks Summit Loop Trail, and within the Bucks Lake Wilderness Area, including the trail to Spanish Peak. Skiers share the remaining trails with snowmobilers. Other areas near Quincy include Snake Lake and Argentine Ridge.
The La Porte Area also offers good winter sports terrain and staging areas. During winter, La Porte is generally accessible only from the southern route (from Marysville/Oroville, via Highway 20 and County Road E-21). Skiers and snowshoers can follow groomed snowmobile trails along Little Grass Valley Reservoir and can find other shared trails at Lexington Hill.
More info on Skiing & Snowshoeing
For maps and more details on the areas listed, call the Plumas National Forest (530) 283-2050, the Lassen National Forest (530) 258-2141 or the Tahoe National Forest (530) 994-3401.