lake in northern california at sunset

The Best Lakes in Northern California

Photo by Carrie Hawthorne

Lakes of Plumas County

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. Some lakes are more accessible—they can be reached by car, allow motorized boats, and have jet ski rentals; others can only be reached by foot or bike and offer a complete escape into nature.

Choose your own adventure

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. 

Below are just a few of our many lakes. We may be biased but we do think we have some of the best lakes in Northern California. We invite you to unplug and feel the magic of our mountain lakes and the vast forests that surround them. Jump to a region by clicking any of the images below.

Lakes in Northwest Plumas County

Lake Almanor

With 52 miles of shoreline, Lake Almanor boasts many year-round activities and beautiful views of Lassen Peak.

Lake Almanor Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 4,500 feet
  • Access: Year-round, optimal between May to October
  • Activities: Fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking, birding, camping
  • Boating: Motorized boats, water-skiing and jet skis allowed.
  • Two Public boat launches on the west shore of lake 
  • Closest Town: Chester

Butt Valley Reservoir

A seasonal, quiet mountain lake with 12 miles of shoreline

Butt Valley Reservoir Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  4,150 feet
  • Seasonal
  • Activities:  Fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, birding, camping
  • Motorized boats allowed.  No water or jet skiing allowed.
  • One public boat launch
  • Closest towns: Chester and Greenville

Juniper Lake

 A smaller lake in the SW portion of Lassen Volcanic National Park with close to 5 miles of shoreline. The area was severely damaged by Dixie Fire.

Juniper Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  6,792 feet
  • Seasonal:  June – October usually
  • Activities:  Swimming, Hiking, Picnicking, Kayaking, Stand-up Paddle Boards, camping, and corrals for horses and horse trails. Campground closed for 2022.
  • No boat launch or motorized boats allowed
  • Closest town Chester

Lake Helen

Glacial Lake nestled at the base of Lassen Peak, with stunning deep blue color

Lake Helen Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  8,000 feet
  • Seasonal
  • Activities:  Swimming, Picnicking, Hiking, Photography
  • Boats not allowed on lake
  • Closest town Chester

Manzanita Lake

Great family lake located near the NW entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park

Manzanita Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  5,846 feet
  • Year-round
  • Activities:  Fishing, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking, Picnicking, Photography, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing
  • Boat Launch
  • Non-motorized boating allowed
  • Closest towns Old Station, Shingletown and Chester

Lakes in North Central Plumas County

Antelope Lake

Seasonal access to a quiet mountain lake with 15 miles of shoreline

Antelope Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 5,069 feet
  • Seasonal
  • Activities: Fishing, kayaking, water-skiing, jet skis, swimming, hiking, biking, mountain biking, birding, camping
  • Boating: Motorized boats, water-skiing and jet skis allowed
  • Two fee-operated boat launches
  • Closest town: Taylorsville

Round Valley Reservoir

A small quiet lake three miles above Greenville

Round Valley Reservoir Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  4,521 feet
  • Usually accessible year-round
  • Activities:  Fishing, Kayaking, Hiking, Picnicking, Bird Watching, Camping
  • Non- motorized boating and kayaking allowed
  • Closest town Greenville

Lakes in South Central Plumas County

Bucks Lake

A beautiful, semi-isolated destination offering year-round enjoyment. With 17 miles of shoreline, sandy beaches, and tall pines, Bucks Lake attracts anglers, campers, hikers, and water sports enthusiasts in the temperate months, and snowmobilers and snowshoe explorers in the winter.

Bucks Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation 5,200
  • Winter access is via snowmobile, optimal summer activities between May to October
  • Activities:  Fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking, birding, scenic drives, camping
  • Boating: Motorized boats, water-skiing and jet skis allowed
  • Public boat launch
  • Closest town: Quincy

Crystal Lake

Small lake with beautiful views

Crystal Lake Fast Facts

  • Region: Border of North Central and South Central
  • Elevation:  6,693 feet
  • Seasonal
  • Activities: Mountain biking, backpacking, fishing, swimming, hiking, birding
  • Access is a rough gravel road from Taylorsville or the southern route from Quincy or hiking on Mt. Hough Trail
  • Closest town: Taylorsville or Quincy

Silver Lake

Reflections galore on this beautiful, small lake in Bucks Lake Wilderness

Silver Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 5,800 feet
  • Seasonal. Gravel road not open in winter but can ski in
  • Activities Hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking, camping, birding
  • Non-motorized boats only
  • Closest town: Quincy

Snake Lake

Very scenic fishing lake, with mountain biking trails, OHV trails and winter recreation

Lakes in Southeast Plumas County

Snake Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 3,954 feet
  • Year-round 
  • Activities birding, horseback riding, picnicking, boating in spring, walking, snowshoeing and skiing if snow, OHV, mountain biking
  • Not a great lake for swimming
  • Non-motorized boats
  • Access by paved road
  • Closest town Quincy

Lake Davis

Lake Davis is part of the Lake Davis Recreation area in Plumas National Forest with 32 miles of shoreline

Lake Davis Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 5,800 feet
  • Year-round
  • Activities: Fishing, hiking, mountain biking, swimming. picnicking, kayaking, bird watching, photography, wildflower viewing, and fantastic fall colors.  
  • Four boat launches
  • Motorized Boats allowed. No water or jet skis allowed.
  • Closest town: Portola

Eureka Lake

Easy to access and great views of Eureka Peak in Plumas Eureka State Park

Eureka Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation:  6,184 feet
  • Year-round. Closes at sunset.
  • Access via Eureka Lake Road – unpaved seasonal road.
  • Activities: Hiking, wildflowers, swimming, snowshoeing, cross country & backcountry skiing, picnicking. No camping or fires.
  • Closest towns: Johnsville and Graeagle

Frenchman Lake

4-mile long lake that’s a favorite among outdoor recreation enthusiasts

Frenchman Lake Fast Facts

  • Elevation: 5,800 feet
  • Year-round
  • Activities:  Fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking, swimming, water-skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, OHVs, camping, ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing
  • Two fee-operated boat launches
  • Closest town: Chilcoot


We love welcoming visitors to create lifelong memories on our beautiful lands and unique communities. While visiting Plumas County, take the Plumas Pledge to help us care for the health of our natural places and the well-being of our communities.

take the plumas pledge!

  1. Prioritize wildfire prevention
  2. Leave places as you found them
  3. Pack out all of your trash—bonus points if you pick up trash left by others! 
  4. Stay on designated trails and camp in designated areas
  5. Check the weather before heading out
  6. Be mindful of your energy and resource usage
  7. Ditch plastic bottles and drink our mountain fresh tap water instead
  8. Choose locally made products and services from local businesses
  9. Slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life in Plumas

Know Before You Go

  • Accessing some trailheads requires driving on roads that aren’t paved. Often vehicles with 4WD or high clearance are necessary.
  • Check fire permits if you plan to camp
  • Check lake access. Natural damage or wildfires have caused closures in the county.
  • Please do not feed wildlife
  • Cell phone coverage is extremely limited. Download to your phone or print out a map before you go.

Wildfire awareness and prevention

Plumas County has suffered from destructive wildfires over the last decade, including the Dixie Fire in 2021—the second largest fire in California’s history. On average, 87% of wildfires each year are caused by people. Please help prevent human-caused wildfires by understanding current fire restrictions and building and extinguishing campfires properly. Below are multiple resources we encourage you to review before visiting:

Regions of Plumas County

Four distinct regions define Plumas County, each with their own alluring qualities, diverse destinations, and unparalleled hospitality.

map of plumas county showing the 4 regions


See information that needs to be updated? Please let us know!