view of Belden Sign, Feather Rivers, Belden Bridge and Belden Resort

The Feather River Canyon

Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon is designated as a Scenic Byway for good reason. The North Fork Feather River dramatically cuts through the Sierra crest with nearly a mile-deep canyon spanning from Bald Eagle Peak at 7,183’ to Tobin at 1,992’. The river is full of huge granite boulders and waterfalls cascade around every corner. History runs deep, from Maidu homelands to the Gold Rush, to the railroads, resorts, hydropower, and the State Water Project.

Large fires of the 21st century have dramatically altered the Canyon yet its rugged beauty remains. The 2021 Dixie Fire impacted all recreation facilities within the North Fork Canyon. Restoration of campgrounds, roads, and trails is a top priority. To ensure a quality experience, inquire about the condition of recreation facilities before you start your adventure.

Many travelers are driving fast through the canyon and there is often lots of truck traffic. If you are looking to take your time and enjoy the spectacular scenery, use pull-outs and caution to allow other vehicles to get around you.

Swimming and Paddling the North Fork

Swimming and kayaking is wonderful and dangerous in the North Fork Canyon. Visit our kayaking and rafting page to learn more and always use caution. Better safe than sorry!

Hiking the Canyon

The North Fork Canyon has several hiking trails, however most are steep with challenging climbs. Be prepared for rugged terrain, exposure, and beautiful views. Because much of the canyon is lower elevation than other parts of the county, these are good places to hike during fall and early spring. Hiking hazards include downed and falling trees, rockslides, ticks, and poison oak. 

  • The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the North Fork Feather River Canyon, dropping down from the Bucks Lake Wilderness and climbing back up at Chips Creek to the north.
  • The challenging 4.8 mile Ben Lomond Trail climbs over 4,000 feet from the North Fork Feather River to 6,453’ Ben Lomond. For a shorter hike , climb to Paul’s Point (3,854′) for an amazing view.
  • South-facing Chambers Creek Trail climbs up on the north side of the canyon. 
  • North-facing Tobin Trail climbs up the south side of the canyon and crosses a couple of beautiful creeks in steep drainages.

Belden and Caribou Crossroads

Located in the heart of Feather River Canyon, just 28 miles west of Quincy, the historic town of Belden is a vintage gem for the intrepid traveler. The PCT crosses at Belden, a great place to get a burger, enjoy the river, spend the night, and mail a postcard from the Belden Post Office.

Caribou Crossroads is a hub of activity where you can get a bite to eat at the Caribou Cafe & Store, overnight at the campground or in a cabin, go fishing, and enjoy spectacular wildflowers on rugged canyon walls.

Railroad Fans

Plumas County is rich in train history and is renowned for its unique railroad engineering along the Feather River. Magnificent bridges, tunnels, and the Keddie Wye make the journey through the Feather River Canyon jaw-dropping. Railroad enthusiasts can learn more here.

Roadside Geology and Botany

In the heart of the canyon, the California Native Plant Society proposed a Special Interest Area on Red Hill, the most extensive ultramafic terrane in the Northern Sierra! All those words mean that Red Hill has a lot of serpentine rock and the highest concentration of sensitive rare plants in the Plumas National Forest. The best place to get a look at a lot of serpentine is in Serpentine Canyon between Virgilia and Caribou. Learn more about the wildflowers of Plumas County.

Plumas traveler guides

Summer Vacation Ideas in Northern California

Plumas County is a summer wonderland of outdoor activities with over a hundred lakes, music festivals, world-class hiking, and mountain town events. Plan your perfect summer vacation high in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California.
arrowleaf balsamroot in Northern California
Plumas traveler guides

Spring Weekend Trip Ideas in Northern California

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Plumas County– the valleys are verdant, rivers are rushing, and snow is still on the high mountains. Spring weather is perfect for activities like hiking, birding, wildflower watching, kayaking, and more.
Clouds and reflections on Manzanita Lake
Plumas traveler guides

Where to See Fall Colors in Northern California

In early October, the leaves in Plumas County begin transforming to create stunning natural beauty. From creek beds to mountaintops, vibrant leaves contrast brilliantly against the dark green pines and firs that dominate the landscape. We’ve pulled together the best routes that offer an abundance of color and adventure. Our fall foliage guide gets you off the beaten path and into the heart of Plumas County.
Fall foliage in Plumas County
Plumas traveler guides

Winter Weekend Ideas in Northern California

Winter in Plumas County is quiet and magical. The region offers everything from cozy cabins and backcountry skiing to family activities like Christmas tree cutting and holiday events. Beat the crowds at Tahoe and other popular winter destinations for your own serene and charming Lost Sierra seasonal adventure.
Chaos Crags in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Plumas traveler guides

The Best Lakes in Northern California

With over 100 lakes to choose from, Plumas County offers visitors an opportunity to soak up some of the most beautiful lakes in Northern California. Whether you’re looking to enjoy water sports with a group or relax and unplug on a solo adventure, the diversity of our lakes offers something for everyone. We invite you to unplug and feel the magic of our mountain lakes and the vast forests that surround them.
canoes on lake with sunset

Know Before You Go

  • The Feather River Canyon Scenic Byway is prone to rockslides, occasional flooding, down trees, wildfire, and other accidents that periodically close the road.
  • Always check road conditions before you travel. Travel with a buddy in remote locations.
  • The deep river canyon makes for a beautiful drive with little cell phone reception. Plan ahead.
  • In summer months, highway 70 can be hot and dry. Bring water and sun protection.
  • In winter months, highway 70 can have snow, sleet, and heavy rain. Carry chains and drive with caution.

Did You Know?

  • The bottom of the North Fork Canyon is heavily developed with Highway 70, the railroad, and power plants and reservoirs known as the Stairway of Power.
  • The North Fork of the Feather River ends at Lake Oroville and is an important part of the State Water Project.
  • While the Feather River Canyon and North Fork are developed, the canyon walls, creeks, and peaks are some of the most rugged and wild in the region.
  • Looking South from Caribou is the  Bucks Lake Wilderness, the only Wilderness on the Plumas National Forest, protected in 1984 by Friends of Plumas Wilderness.

Local Resources

Feather River Outdoors: a Quincy outdoor supply store with guide books, sports equipment, and local knowledge of the Feather River Canyon.

Friends of Plumas Wilderness: a conservation and wilderness advocacy organization that is working to improve access and protect the wild places of the Feather River region, including special places in the North Fork Feather River.

Discover more of Plumas County
Places to stay nearby The Feather River Canyon
Quincy

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.

Twain

Quaint, beautiful, family-friendly and pet friendly cottages in the Feather River Canyon with access to the Feather River.

Quincy

Full hook-up RV spaces located in downtown Quincy along the beautiful Feather River quietly amongst the riverbank and tress.