Paddle Boarding at Sunset in Northern California

Paddle Boarding in Northern California

Photo by Michael Beatley

Paddle Boarding in Northern California

With over 100 lakes and the beautiful Feather River and its tributaries, Plumas County is a watersports haven. Plumas County offers some of the best paddle boarding opportunities in Northern California. 

Paddle Boarding is a great way to explore the water on a warm summer day. With only a little instruction, most beginners are able to fully stand up and paddle the first time trying. Stand Up Paddle Boarding (also called SUPing) originated from surfing and over the years it has become a widely popular way to enjoy lakes, wetlands, and more mellow rivers.

Best places to SUP in Plumas County

From novice to experienced, there are many bodies of waters to choose from when planning your paddle boarding adventures in Plumas County. Lakes are “flat water” paddling and great for kids and even bringing along your dog. For the experienced paddlers looking for adventure, try one of the river and creek sections.

 Northwest Plumas

  • Lake Almanor: Plumas County’s largest reservoir has big open water, but also plenty of coves and shoreline to explore. There are numerous locations to launch your SUP from private resorts with visitor amenities (North Shore Campground, Plumas Pines Resort, Camp Prattville, Lassen View Resort, Lake Haven Resort, Big Cove Resort, and Knotty Pine Resort), and public boat ramps/day use areas: Canyon Dam Boat Ramp, Almanor Boat Launch and Westwood Beach.
  • Butt Valley Reservoir: Not far from Lake Almanor, this reservoir is known for great fishing but is also wonderful for canoeing and paddle boarding. While motor boats are allowed, skiing and jet skis are not. There is a boat ramp, picnic area, and two campgrounds. This is a great lake for those new to paddle boarding.
  • Mountain Meadows:
  • While technically in Lassen County, Mountain Meadows Reservoir is a beautiful, quiet lake perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking. It is loaded with wildlife as it is off the beaten path.  Indian Ole Dam is the best place to launch.
  • Juniper Lake:
  • a beautiful high mountain lake in Lassen National Park with crystal clear water and a small, rustic campground and lovely day use area with a nice beach area and plenty of parking. This area is only open in summer and was impacted by the Dixie Fire so check on the Lassen Park website before heading out.

South Central Plumas

  • Spanish Creek near Quincy: Spanish creek offers an amazing float/paddle from Gansner Park in Quincy, to Oakland Camp. This section of the river gives you a tour of American Valley ranches and is great for bird watching. Check flows for timing–this can be a fun and mostly mellow SUP experience (class I and II)  in late spring. But the water is cold!
  • Bucks Lake:
  • With sandy beaches, granite boulders, aspen groves, and plenty of put-in options, Bucks Lake is popular with locals and visitors for paddling. Bucks Lake Marina also rents paddle boards, boats, and other equipment.
  • Snake Lake: Snake Lake is lower in elevation and near Quincy, making it a great place to paddle in the spring before the snow and ice has melted off higher mountain lakes. The lake is shallow and full of life. Bring binoculars for bird watching and the beautiful views of Spanish Peak in the distance.

Southeast Plumas

  • Little Grass Valley Reservoir: With eight campgrounds, three boat ramps, and lots of shoreline, this beautiful mountain lake offers plenty of put-in locations for paddlers. This lake is popular on the weekends for swimming, boating, and fishing but is very quiet during the week. 
  • Sections of the Upper Middle Fork: During spring, the headwater wetlands of the Scenic Middle Fork Feather River offer an interesting SUP experience. Start at the bridge near County Road A-23 and Highway 70 and paddle upstream.  Other stretches of the upper Middle Fork can be done on SUP by an experienced paddler. From Clio to the Mohawk Bridge near Blairsden is a slow Class I and II stretch.  
  • The Mill Pond in Graeagle: Right in the quaint little town of Graeagle, the Mill Pond is a popular park and large cold water pond perfect for beginning paddle boarders and playing in the water with kids.
  • Gold Lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area: At 6,411 feet elevation, Gold Lake is the most popular lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area for boating (motorized boats are allowed). The Gold Lake Picnic Area is a nice place to paddle board from. There is also a Day Use area at the Gold Lake Boat Launch. Looking for an even more quiet paddling experience? Try Goose Lake, just south of Gold Lake–it’s a non-motorized, smaller lake.

North Central Plumas

  • Indian Creek: for a short window in the spring, stretches of Indian Creek near Taylorsville can be fun for experienced paddle boarders and canoes.
  • Antelope Lake: another big, beautiful reservoir (15 miles of shoreline) to explore by paddle board! The Lost Cove Boat Ramp offers picnic tables, shade structures, and a launch point. There are three campgrounds on the lake.

Know Before You Go

  • Know how to swim– plan on falling in and getting wet.
  • Safety first! Know your expertise level and start on flat water. Rivers and creeks are for experienced paddle boarders.
  • Always check weather conditions before an outing. The wind can turn a paddle board outing from fun to challenging (and even dangerous).
  • Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) 
  • Paddle with a buddy! Always let someone know your location and time of return before hitting the water.
  • Water levels change from season to season, watch out for new obstacles, submerged trees, and scout for rapids before you head down steam.

SUP Rentals and Sales

  • Lake Almanor Kayak Rentals – Lake Almanor
  • Knotty Pine Resort and Marina – Lake Almanor
  • Bodfish Bicycles – Chester 
  • Feather River Outdoor Store – Quincy 
  • Bucks Lake Marina – Bucks Lake
  • Graeagle Outfitters – Graeagle
  • The Graeagle Outpost – Graeagle

Resources

Learn more about paddle boarding and watersports in Plumas County

Life Jacket Safety for Kids

Did You Know?

Plumas County is fresh water rich with over 100 lakes, the Feather River, and the largest wetland complexes of the Sierra Nevada. Fresh water is a resource to cherish and protect!

 

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