Photo © Shannon Morrow
Lake Almanor is located at the boundary of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada geologic provinces, south of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The faulting that formed the Sierra Nevada range also created a valley where the lake currently resides. According to Kurt Sable of the Lassen National Forest, “It is presumed a pre-existing lake sat in the valley, and was then filled in with sediment to form a meadow. The meadow was then dammed to form the present Lake Almanor."
Known for water sports, Lake Almanor is one of the largest lakes in Northern California. Summer lake surface temperatures of about 75 degrees make it ideal for boating, fishing, water-skiing, wake boarding, sailing, sail boarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wave running. Personal watercraft float tubes and inner tubes are allowed on the lake which can be accessed by two public boat launches. Picnic areas and beaches allow for great recreation and views of the lake.
Closed to all motorized vehicles, the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is an easy to moderate 19 mile round trip accessed from numerous points along Highway 89, where shorter 4 to 5 mile round trips can also be started. The trail winds through a mixed conifer forest with spectacular views of Lake Almanor, Dyer Mountain, and Lassen Peak. Watch for wildlife as you may see bald eagles, osprey, and goshawk.
Lake Almanor came into being in 1914 when the Great Western Power Company dammed the north fork of the Feather River, flooding the area known as Big Meadows. Interestingly, before the lake was formed, Big Meadows was a lush meadow with plenty of water. It was a summer resort known the world over. People made reservations from year to year.
The name Almanor was derived from combining the names of three sisters - Alice, Martha and Elinore - the daughters of Guy C. Earl, who was then president of the Great Western Power Company (later Pacific Gas and Electric). Pacific Gas and Electric further developed Lake Almanor by constructing the present dam between 1926-27. Today the lake stores 1,308,000 acre feet of water and is 13 miles long and 6 miles wide. It is 52 square miles of sparkling, clear water surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.
Two public boat launches with ample parking for cars and trailers allow visitors access to the lake:
Forest Service Ramp at the Canyon Dam Picnic Area, located at the Junction of Hwy. 147 and Hwy. 89. Picnic tables and fire pits, restrooms, 3 lane ramp, and launch/load dock. No fee.
Forest Service Ramp on the West Shore, located 1 mi. off Hwy. 89 on Almanor Drive West, located in the U.S.F.S campground area, restrooms, public beach, and launch/load dock. No fee.
Lake fishing is accessible via boats or the boat launch.