Bucks Lake in Northern California

Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake

From Fishing to Hiking: Top Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake is a beautiful and easy-to-reach high mountain lake at an elevation of 5,200 feet, 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 the 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 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 Bucks Lake Marina. Many supplies are also available at the Haskin’s Valley Resort and Store. 

Plumas National Forest also operates an interpretive site. The Sandy Point Public Boat Ramp has 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

It is an excellent lake to bring the family for a visit. In addition to fishing, a variety of water sports are available for the whole family to enjoy. Kayaks, canoes, and standup paddle boards are available to rent for a relaxing day on the lake. If you want more action, rent a ski or pontoon boat.  Boat slips are available at the Bucks Lake Marina and the Lakeshore Resort if you are planning to bring your boat.

Take a leisurely hike with your family on the Mill Creek trail and find the perfect sandy beach for swimming and picnicking, or drive to Sandy Point Beach, where there 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.


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

The Mill Creek trail meanders above the lakeshore and through pine forests and aspen groves. This is an excellent 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, with plenty of opportunities to jump into the lake on a hot summer day. The Mill Creek trail can also be used as an entry point for longer adventures and joins other trails in the Bucks Lake Wilderness. For those who like to put in a lot of miles, you can hike this trail 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 terrific 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. A couple of seasonal creek crossings sometimes get the boots muddy. 

Nearby at Bucks Summit is a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). 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 winter 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. There is ample plowed parking from the summit, and you can head off on skis on the snow-covered road toward 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 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 is an easy 3.8-mile single-track trail.

Bucks Lake and its surrounding lands have a diversity of habitats, including mountain meadows, aspen, 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 various breeds of ducks.

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

Some of the best viewings of dogwood blooming splendor are heading up the Big Creek Road to Bucks Lake in late May. As you get closer to the Lake, the steeper Bucks Lake Road also has some showy dogwood.  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

Just steps from the Feather River, Family Friendly Campground w/ everything you need for a relaxing & exciting vacation. Bring the family, toys & pets

Bucks Lake

Set among the beautiful pine trees in a cove at the south end of Bucks Lake, Haskins Valley Campground is a popular vacation spot.


It’s easy to relax when you are surrounded by this much space and luxury. Our beautifully decorated suites offer all the comforts of home, and more.