Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northeastern California, Plumas National Forest is a hidden gem that offers stunning scenery and plenty of outdoor activities. Outdoor enthusiasts are attracted year round to the Plumas National Forest’s many streams and lakes, beautiful deep canyons, rich mountain valleys, meadows, and lofty peaks. With over a million acres of forested mountains, lakes, and streams, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Plumas National Forest. Here’s a weekend, three-day itinerary for Plumas National Forest to make the most of your time in this breathtaking national forest.
Day 1: Exploring the Lakes of Plumas National Forest
Arrive in Plumas National Forest and settle into your accommodation. There are plenty of options for camping, including developed campgrounds with amenities such as showers and restrooms or more rustic backcountry campsites. Alternatively, you can stay in one of the lodges or cabins near the park such as Elwell Lakes Lodge.
After settling in, head to one of the many lakes in the area. One of the most popular lakes in Plumas National Forest is Lake Davis. This beautiful lake is situated at an elevation of 5,885 feet and covers an area of approximately 6,200 acres. Lake Davis is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, as it is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass. 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 also has picnic areas, making it a great spot for a weekend getaway.
Another popular lake in Plumas National Forest is Frenchman Lake. This lake is located at an elevation of 5,623 feet and covers an area of approximately 1,500 acres. Frenchman Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful scenery, making it a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. The lake is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon.
Antelope Lake is another beautiful lake located in Plumas National Forest. This lake is situated at an elevation of 5,200 feet and covers an area of approximately 1,200 acres. Antelope Lake is a popular spot for fishing and boating, as it is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and catfish. The lake also has several campgrounds and picnic areas, making it a great spot for a family outing.
Lake Almanor is one of the largest lakes in California, covering an area of approximately 28,000 acres. Found roughly mid way between Plumas and Lassen National Forest, this lake is situated at an elevation of 4,500 feet and is known for its clear waters and beautiful scenery. Lake Almanor is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming, and is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and Chinook salmon. The lake also has several campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails, making it a great spot for a weekend getaway.
In the evening, make a campfire and enjoy the stars. Plumas National Forest is known for its stunning night skies, and the lack of light pollution makes for an unforgettable stargazing experience.
Day 2: Hiking and Waterfalls in Plumas National Forest
After a hearty breakfast, set out on a hike to explore some of the park’s natural beauty. The Lakes Basin Trail is a popular destination for hikers who want to experience the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is about 3 miles long and passes by Long Lake and Big Bear Lake. Hikers can also enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
Normally a great hike to see waterfalls is the Feather Falls Trail, which leads to the park’s namesake waterfall. The hike is about eight miles round trip and offers stunning views of the Feather River and the surrounding forest. Currently the trail is closed until 2024 due to fire damage.
In the evening, return to camp and relax around the campfire. Listen to the sounds of the forest and watch for wildlife such as deer and elk, which are common in Plumas National Forest.
Day 3: Scenic Drives in Plumas National Forest
On your final day in Plumas National Forest, take a scenic drive along one of the park’s many roads. The Feather River Scenic Byway is a popular choice, offering stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains. Another great option is the drive along the North Fork of the Feather River, which takes you through the scenic Sierra Valley.
Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife. Plumas National Forest is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles.
That’s it for the weekend / three days in Plumas National Forest itinerary. After your scenic drive, return to camp and pack up your gear. As you head out of the park, if you have time take advantage of other nearby sights such as the blooming wildflowers and gushing waterfalls of North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. The mesa comes alive in spring when its hillsides explode in color and its seasonal waterfalls are in great form. The largest of them all is 165-foot Phantom Falls, accessed by an easy 4.2-mile (round-trip) hike.
If you are interested in more information on scenic attractions in Northern California please see our blog on One Week in Northern California.