Bucks Lake in Northern California

Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake is a beautiful and easy to reach high mountain lake at 5,200 feet in elevation perfect for your family vacation or quiet getaway. The lake boasts 17 miles of shoreline, sandy beaches, dramatic boulders, aspen groves, and tall pines. Bucks Lake attracts fishermen, campers, hikers, and water sports enthusiasts in summer. Winter brings snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Bucks Lake is located just 17 miles southwest of Quincy and 32 miles northeast of Oroville located on the Oroville-Bucks Lake Road.

The lake is presently owned and managed by Pacific Gas & Electric and has a long history of recreation and year-round enjoyment. About half the lakeshore is developed with charming cabins, lodges, visitor amenities, and day-use areas leaving plenty of open space and wild places to explore via lakeshore trails or by boat. The Bucks Lake Wilderness and the Pacific Crest Trail are just steps away making Bucks Lake the perfect hub for watersports, relaxation, and hiking adventures.

Bucks Lake is generally not crowded during the week and even on most weekends from late May until the snow closes the road making it a perfect getaway for those who want to leave the hustle and bustle of life behind them. Also, most of the trails and beaches are pet friendly. 

Amenities at Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake has several lodging and camping options. Haskins Valley Campground is operated by PG&E and there are several private campgrounds, resorts, and RV spots to choose from for overnight stays. 

Boat rentals, jet skis, bait, tackle, and groceries are available at the Lakeshore Resort and the Bucks Lake Marina. Many supplies are also available at the Haskin’s Valley Resort and Store. 

Plumas National Forest also operates an interpretive site. At the Sandy Point Public Boat Ramp, there are five campgrounds, a picnic and Day Use areas on the lake. Learn more about Plumas National Forest amenities at Bucks Lake.

Family Fun on Bucks Lake

Excellent lake to bring the family for a visit in addition to fishing a variety of water sports are available for all the family to enjoy. Kayaks, canoes, and standup paddle boards are available to rent for a relaxing day on the lake. Want a little more action, rent a ski boat or a pontoon boat.  Boat slips are available at the Bucks Lake Marina and the Lakeshore Resort if you are planning to bring your own boat.

Take an easy hike with your family on the Mill Creek trail and find the perfect sandy beach for swimming and picnicking along the way or drive to Sandy Point Beach where this is plenty of beach space for locals and visitors. Swimming in Bucks Lake is a favorite for many locals because in the summer it’s warmer than other lakes and there is easy access to sandy uncrowded beaches. 

Fishing at Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake is known for five species of fish: Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Brook trout, Lake trout and Kokanee Salmon.  The best fishing is from May to September.  It is not unusual to land a 20 pound trout on this lake.  If you are looking for a fishing guide there are multiple fishing guides in Plumas County to choose from.

Fishing boats are also available for rent at Bucks Lake Marina.

There are three paved boat ramps around the lake where you can put in your watercraft–Bucks Lake Marina, the Lakeshore Resort ramp, and the public Sandy Point ramp and day-use area.

Hiking

Bucks Lake offers some incredible hiking opportunities including day hikes on the PCT.

The Mill Creek trail meanders just above the lakeshore and through pine forests and aspen groves. This is a great trail for wildflowers in late spring and early summer but can have patches of mud where seasonal creeks cross the trail.  This is a popular trail for locals and visitors alike, with plenty of opportunities to jump in the lake on a hot summer day. The Mill Creek trail can also be used as an entry point for longer adventures and joins up with other trails in the Bucks Lake Wilderness. For those who like to put in a lot of miles, you can hike this trail all the way to Spanish Peak! 

Another great hike is the Bucks Creek Loop. This 4-mile loop trail takes you through the woods and meadows along Bucks Creek and is wonderful for bird watching and wildflower viewing. This is also a good family hike or casual mountain bike ride as the single track trail is fairly flat and even. There are a couple of seasonal creek crossings that sometimes get the boots muddy. 

Nearby at Bucks summit is a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail. From Bucks Summit hike up the mountain to Spanish Peak (elevation 6,960’) for epic views of high mountain lakes, verdant valleys, and mountain ranges from the Cascades to the Sierra Buttes, and beyond.  Only hiking and equestrian use are allowed on the PCT. 

Bucks Lake Hikes

Winter Wonderland

Cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, and snowmobiling are popular during the winter months as long as winter has been kind enough to supply lots of snow. The Bucks Lake Road from Quincy is usually open as far as Bucks summit in the winter but the road can be a bit icy. From the summit, there is ample plowed parking and you can head off on skis on the snow-covered road towards the Lake or take one of the marked trails near the summit. The trails aren’t groomed. Many local back-country skiers head up this way, climbing towards the PCT and skiing down the mountain. This area is also a popular staging area for snowmobiles that then head for the many routes near the lake. 

Restaurants and lodges may be open on weekends and holidays but check before you go during the winter. 

Other Bucks Lake Activities

Besides easy mountain biking on the Buck’s Creek Loop trail, road biking from Bucks Summit to the Lake and beyond towards the dam or on the Oroville Bucks Lake Highway has some beautiful scenery in the summer and fall. If you’re a biker with lots of lung capacity ride up the Big Creek Road to Haskins Valley and then to the Lake. The road is wide enough to feel safe from cars and not that busy. 

Enjoy a few of the mountain biking trails close to Bucks Lake. Information on  Bucks Summit an easy 3.8 mile single track trail.

Bucks Lake and surrounding lands have a diversity of habitats including mountain meadows, aspen, and willow groves, creeks, old-growth forests, and the lake itself. With plenty of undeveloped space, wildlife and bird species thrive. Look for warblers, woodpeckers, flycatchers, osprey, eagles, and a variety of ducks.

Enjoy sunsets on the lake while watching Osprey and Bald eagles dive bomb for food.

Some of the best viewing of dogwood blooming splendor is in late May heading up the Big Creek Road to Bucks Lake. The steeper Bucks Lake Road also has some showy dogwood as you get closer to the Lake.  A few weeks later you can find Leopard Lilies and other wildflowers blooming on the Mill Creek trail and the Bucks Loop. 

Know Before You Go

Fun Facts

  • Once a lush valley surrounded by thick forests, it was the summer home and hunting grounds for the Mountain Maidu. When the water is low you can still see the holes made by the grinding stones.
  • During the Gold Rush, three men took up a land claim in the valley and one of them was named, Horace Bucklin, hence the name Bucks Lake. The land was bought and sold many times, a cattle ranch was established, and the area became a vacation destination.
  • In 1925 Bucks Valley was purchased by the Feather River Power Company in order to build a dam, flood the valley, and create electricity.
  • There is a Kokanee salmon run in October from Bucks Creek into Bucks Lake.
  • About a mile up the Mill Creek trail there is a rocky outcropping with holes created by the grinding stones from the  Mountain Maidu.
Discover more of Plumas County
Places to stay nearby Bucks Lake
Belden

Caribou Café and Store Postal Service Laundry, Bathroom, and Showers Cozy Cabin Komfort RV

Quincy

We’re not a five star accommodation but we are the jewel of the Sierra Mountains. Clean, comfortable and with many amenities.

Quincy

At bucks lake a quarter mile from marina. We are up in the northern Sierras Many places to fish and bike in the mountains. Close to the PCT trail