Created in 1967 to enhance the area’s fishery and promote outdoor recreation opportunities. Lake Davis is 7 miles north of Portola and a favorite location for many. It sits at 5,800 feet and has 32 miles of shoreline. The lake has several accessible sites and amenities, including a 110-foot wheelchair-accessible fishing levee. The average depth of Lake Davis is 21 feet, and the deepest is 108 feet.
The lake is accessible for year-round use, withe excellent fishing throughout the year, the best time is spring and early summer.
Fish & Wildlife decided to manage this lake as a “high cost” low “yielding trophy trout fishing lake.”
Some fishermen prefer Lake Davis over other lakes since water skiing, and jet skis are not allowed.
Lake Davis is a still water fishery with the largest biomass of any still water lake in California. You can always count on experiencing a good hatch with rising fish.
Various techniques work well for fishing this lake, including nymphing, stripping streams, and stalking rising fish with flies.
There are four fee-access boat launches on the lake and nine no-fee fishing access points around the lake. There are four campgrounds around the lake, half are first-come, first-served, and the other spaces are by reservation.
The lake is home to a variety of fish. Rainbow, Brook, and Brown Trout. Large-mouth Bass, Brown Bullhead, and Pumpkin Seed.
The Lake Davis trail goes along much of the shore of Lake Davis past CatFish Cove and meanders up past Lightning Tree Campground. This trail is open for equestrian use, biking, and trail running.
Hiking at Lake Davis gives the added benefit of being a hotspot for wildlife viewing, birding, and viewing wildflowers in the spring. For additional hotspots for birding and spotting wildflowers throughout Plumas County, visit our birding page and best wildflower viewing to learn more!
Common wildlife likely to observe: Black bears, Black-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, rabbits, squirrels, and an occasional mountain lion.
Birds of prey often spotted include: red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, American kestrel, golden eagles, great-horned owls, bald eagles, osprey, and northern goshawk.
Waterfowl, including ducks and geese, and other common bird species are hummingbirds, woodpeckers, flycatchers, jays, dippers, kingfishers, herons, chickadees, warblers, sparrows, nuthatches, and finches.
Spring is the best time for wildflowers. With vivid displays of purple camas, larkspur, yellow meadow buttercups, butterweed, and others.
Smith Peak Lookout is an active lookout tower that sits above Lake Davis, and as you would expect, it offers 360-degree views. You get a bird’s-eye view of Lake Davis and the Mills Peak look-out across the valley.
Lost and Found Gravel Grinder
Getting to the lookout is via logging roads. The road is suitable for driving, hiking, or mountain biking. The elevation gain in a short distance is 2,600 feet.
This is an annual ride held near the lake. The route varies a little each year. It starts in the City Park in Portola. The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship hosts this ride each year. The ride usually sells out each year. Make sure to register early. If interested in this ride, options of a 35-mile, 60-mile, or 100-mile route are available. Make sure to register early. This ride allows you to experience one of the beautiful backcountry routes in the Lost Sierra and learn more about others great routes.
Lake Davis and the surrounding recreation area become a winter wonderland. The Lake Davis trail is a great place for the more adventurous for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
The annual Ice Fishing Derby is fun for both fishermen and spectators. For up-to-date information on the derby or general conditions on the lake, call J&J Grizzly Store at (530) 832-0270.