Kayer of Butt Valley Reservoir

Butt Valley Reservoir

Butt Valley Reservoir is located in the NW portion of Plumas County, just west of Lake Almanor.   This picturesque mountain lake lies at an elevation of 4,150 feet and is five miles long and about three-quarters of a mile across. Butt Valley Reservoir is an excellent location for camping and boating between May and October and hosts abundant wildlife and recreation opportunities. 

Butt Valley Reservoir was constructed in 1924 by Great Western Power Company and is currently owned by PG&E. This Reservoir is connected to nearby Lake Almanor and is the second level of PG&E’s “Stairway of Power.”

In 2020, 2,477 acres around Butt Valley Reservoir became protected with a conservation easement held by a local nonprofit, Feather River Land Trust. The conservation easement permanently protects the Reservoir and surrounding lands from subdivision and development and continues a legacy of open space and public access. 

The lake is an excellent fishery for trout, and nearby Yellow Creek is a favorite with catch and release fly-fishermen.  

Family Fun

Butt Valley Reservoir has a tranquil setting, with great camping and easy lake access. The lake is a short distance form Chester and is quieter than Lake Almanor,

2021 Dixie Fire burned this area, and the impacts of this megafire will be seen for many years to come.

While the views have changed, the lake and surrounding lands remain beautiful, and the fire presents an opportunity to watch natural regrowth and recovery.

Butt Lake is an ideal lake for canoeing, kayaking, and sailboating.  Bring your floaties, relax in the water, and soak up the sun.

The Ray Adams Boat Launch has a paved boat ramp, easy parking, and places to swim and picnic.


Butt Reservoir is known for trophy-size trout, averaging 18 inches.  Butt Valley is open year-round for fishing.  Butt Creek opens the Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30th. 

Butt Valley Reservoir powerhouse outfall downstream to a marker adjacent to Ponderosa Flat Campground is open from the Saturday preceding Memorial Day through the last day of February.

Looking for a laid-back, quiet lake with great fishing? Butt Lake is a good choice for a family camping trip offering solitude while fishing.  This lake is suited to those who would like to fish without speed boats nearby.  The speed limit is five miles per hour.  Water skiing and jet skis are not allowed on the lake.

Everyone over 16 requires a valid California Fishing License.  A license may be obtained online or at Ayob’s in Chester; one-day, three-day and yearly licenses are sold. 

Back Road Exploration

Butt Lake is in the North-Western portion of Plumas National Forest.  Grap your maps for Plumas National Forest and Lassen National Forest and spend the day exploring back roads.

One easy and enjoyable drive is from Butt Lake to Seneca. It is a short 8-mile drive and will take about 30 minutes one way. Print off sections of the Backcountry Discovery Trail, or purchase detailed maps of both Lassen and Plumas National Forest maps.


There are three campgrounds around the reservoir, Ponderosa Flat, Ponderosa Flat Group, and Cool Springs, which PG&E usually opens on Memorial Weekend and maintains through October. Make reservations directly with PG&E.

Know Before You Go

  • Closest supplies at Plumas Pines Resort or Hamilton Branch.
  • The closest full-service grocery and gas is in  Chester.
  • Make sure you are aware of the current status regarding campfires.
  • Do not count on cell phone coverage.
  • Firewood from outside the area is not permitted.  
  • Designated Accessible sites are available for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate.

Fun Facts

Butt Valley Dam was first constructed in 1921 as part of the North Fork Feather River hydroelectric power system as a rock-filled dam.  Alterations were made in 1924 and 1927.  Since 1927 The dam has remained unaltered.

Reservoir was named for original settlers, the Butt Family who are buried in a secluded private cemetery near the reservoir.

The ‘Dinky,’ a narrow gauge locomotive, was discovered in May 1996 after 82 years at the bottom of Butt Lake. It was used during the 1910-1914 construction of the Almanor and Butt Lake Dams. “Dinky” can now  been seen at the Collins Pine Park in Chester.

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