The Northern Sierra: Plumas Country

When You Go Hiking With Equipment and Precautions

Today’s vacationers discover Plumas National Forest and its environment bursting with fishing, climbing, and recollections of the Gold Rush period.

All of the Southern Sierras in California are well-known because of treasures like Yosemite National Park, the northern finish of this well-known vary additionally has an important deal to supply. Northern California and their counterparts throughout the border in Nevada discover it particularly engaging. And simply the place is the north finish of this 400-mile-long vary? Probably the phrases that say it finest are Plumas National Forest.

This million-acre-plus National Forest, which ranges from 1000 toes to 8372 toes in elevation additionally encompasses almost all the Feather River drainage. The uplifting of the Sierras and the erosion from the Feather River has led to a mountainous, deeply-cut panorama. Geologists imagine that the river eroded by the Sierras to assert the east aspect streams for itself.

The best a part of the Plumas to succeed in is the forest’s neighbor alongside the Feather River, the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, 75 miles north of Sacramento. From Oroville, alongside State Highway 70, you possibly can attain the guests middle by heading east on State Highway 160 and left to the top of Kelly Ridge Road. It has a small movie show and in depth reveals overlaying the pure and cultural historical past of the Sierra foothills space round it and on the dam.

You can discover out that Oroville dam is a multi-purpose dam of the State Water Project operated by the California Department of Water Resources, that it’s the tallest and one of many largest earthen dams within the United States, standing 770 toes excessive. It’s greater than 80 million cubic yards of fabric encompass an internal core of impermeable clay surrounded by tailings left from early 20th-century gold dredging alongside the Feather River. This is sufficient materials to construct a two-lane freeway across the Earth.

A spotlight of the customer middle is it is 47-foot-high commentary tower that offers you a commanding view of the lake, the dam, and the encircling foothills, and factors out the key landmarks with interpretive indicators. The middle additionally has a self-guided nature path.

Another nature path focuses on Indian makes use of of native crops on the close by Loafer Creek Campground (no hookups). At Bidwell Canyon Campground (with hookups) simply down the hill from the guests middle, RVers can take pleasure in one other path. At both campground, the state park rangers conduct night campfire packages from June by September on Wednesdays and weekends. Loafer Creek is closed through the winter months however Bidwell Canyon is open year-round. The Bidwell Canyon Marina, (801 Bidwell Canyon Rd, Oroville, CA 95966) provides many providers to boaters in addition to the seven-lane boat launching ramp. Call 530-589-9175 for info.

If you are a boater you may camp at one of many space’s 109 primitive boat-in websites on the lake. On your manner out to any of the boat campsites, strive your luck snagging rainbow and German brown trout, bass or silver and Kokanee salmon or tow a rooster-tailing water skier for a number of laps. Reservations for the campground and boat in websites are accepted from April 27 to September 3. For info contact Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, 917 Kelly Ridge Road, Oroville, California 95966 (530) 538-2219, additionally Northern Buttes District HQ, 400 Glen Dr., Oroville, CA 95966 (530)538-2200.

You may also need to go to a few different points of interest within the southwestern a part of Plumas National Forest. To get to the Feather Falls National Scenic space from the Oroville Visitor Center, take Kelly Ridge Road again to State Highway 162 heading east, then flip proper on Forbestown Road, then left on Lumpkin Road towards the village of Feather Falls. Just earlier than reaching the village, you will see a mud street heading left to the trailhead.

The 15,000-acre Feather Falls National Scenic space consists of parts of the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Feather River and three of its tributaries, together with the Fall River. The space options huge granite domes and deeply minimize canyons, however Feather Falls, the sixth highest waterfall within the continental United States is the principle attraction. It plunges 640 toes over a sheer granite cliff. A National Recreation Trail, which is freed from snow a lot of the 12 months leads 3-1/2 miles to a sturdily constructed commentary deck that gives the very best vantage level from which to view the thundering waters. Actually, from the commentary level, you possibly can proceed on the path to the falls itself. About 1/Four mile previous the falls, a number of backpack campsites are positioned alongside the Fall River.

Also from the Oroville Visitor Center, by Highway 162 and the Forbestown Road, you possibly can head to Forbestown, then proceed onto a freeway “T”. Turn left towards the city of Challenge, the place you will discover a U.S. Forest Service ranger station, and proceed on to La Porte and the Little Grass Valley Recreation Area, about 50 miles from Oroville.

This space has been effectively developed for recreation, and it is 290 campsites can accommodate motorhomes as much as 22 toes lengthy. Other actions embody picnicking, fishing for German brown and rainbow trout and catfish, water-skiing, swimming at two seashores, boating, climbing, and winter sports activities comparable to snowmobiling and cross-country snowboarding. In 1867 the primary aggressive ski races within the United States have been held by the Alturas Ski Club at close by La Porte. The summer time season services are often open from June 1 to October 31. During May, June and July, look ahead to the good purple snow plant that grows between the 4,000 and eight,000 foot elevation. Although it is a flowering plant, the purple snow plant lacks chlorophyll and grows off decaying natural matter, just like mushrooms.

To attain the remainder of the Plumas nation, return to State Highway 70 and head north. Eventually this freeway curves eastward climbs foothills, then follows the scenic canyon of the North Fork of the Feather River. The river alternates between free-flowing stretches and small reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams which can be a part of the “staircase of power” operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Near the pinnacle of the canyon, State Highways 70 and 89 intersect. North and east of those two roads, you possibly can go to three reservoirs collectively known as the higher Feather River lakes, which can be the beginning of the State Water Project. They all supply fishing, largely for trout, bass, and catfish (each within the lakes and within the downstream creeks), boating, tenting, picnicking and different recreation.

From this intersection, drive to the primary of those lakes by taking State Highway 89 north to Arlington, then County Road A22 East to Taylorsville. From there, comply with the indicators to the Antelope Lake Recreation Area. Drive east on Highway 70 to Portola, after which north on Lake Davis Road to the biggest of the three lakes, Lake Davis, or go farther east on Highway 70 to Chilcoot, then take State Highway 284 north by the scenic, volcanic-looking partitions of Little Last Chance Canyon to Frenchmen Lake.

While you are in Portola make sure you go to the Portola Railroad Museum. The museum is operated by the Feather River Rail Society, which preserves not solely native railroad historical past but in addition Western Pacific Railroad historical past with its assortment of 20 diesel locomotives. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to five p.m. day by day from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on weekends throughout winter months. On the final weekend of every month from June by September, and on holidays, a few diesel engines give rides to guests.

Heading again west alongside Highway 70, you will discover Quincy, the Plumas County seat, which is also the headquarters of the Plumas National Forest. Heading west out of Quincy on the Bucks Lake Road, you possibly can go to the PG&E reservoir, Bucks Lake, and it is resorts and campgrounds. This is one in all a number of reservoirs that feed into PG&E’s “staircase of power.” The lake adjoins the 20,000 acre Buck’s Lake Wilderness Area, the one official wilderness within the nationwide forest.

Near the junction of Highway 70-89, the previous lumber city of Graegle has been developed into an idyllic trip and retirement neighborhood, replete with an 18-hole championship golf course, condominiums, a number of rustic resorts, RV campgrounds, distinctive retailers and eating places. It also can function a base for exploring the southern finish of the Plumas.

Southwest of Graegle, alongside the Gold Lake Highway, the Lakes Basin Recreation Area encompasses greater than 30 lakes and several other waterfalls. Most of those lakes could be reached solely by an excellent community of trails, so the Lakes Basin is a well-liked space for climbing. One path results in the summit of Mount Elwell (elevation 7812 toes), which affords the very best general views of the basin.

Five miles west of Graegle, on County Road A-14, the 5000-acre Plumas-Eureka State Park sits excessive on the japanese slopes of the Sierra. The park surrounds the historic mining city of Johnsville and protects the ruins of not less than two exhausting rock gold mines. The partially restored Plumas-Eureka stamp mill, close to the customer’s middle, as soon as was the busiest mine within the space. In 1872, an English firm known as the Sierra Buttes Mining Company Limited purchased a lot of the mines tapping the in depth ore physique under 7447-foot Eureka Peak. The firm ran a extremely environment friendly and extremely worthwhile hard-rock mining operation for about 20 years. Three tramways have been constructed to carry ore right down to the central mill close to Johnsville, named for the native superintendent, William Johns. After 1890, when the mines tapered off in productiveness, the corporate ultimately offered out. When the mining lastly ceased altogether in 1943, some 70 miles of shafts and tunnels had been dug. Plumas-Eureka Mill alone had processed eight million {dollars} price of gold, and greater than 80 million {dollars} price of gold have been extracted from the realm. Johnsville continues to be a dwelling city, and most of the buildings within the Plumas-Eureka and Jamison Mines can nonetheless be discovered within the state park.

Now, the most well-liked summertime actions are tenting, climbing, fishing, and sightseeing. The Upper Jamison Campground, within the south finish of the park, isn’t solely a spot to camp, but in addition has a variety of trailheads, together with one to the Jamison Mines and on into the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, the place backpacking is allowed at Wade, Jamison, Rock, Grass and Smith lakes. A path it is best to hike is Madora Lake Loop Trail close to the doorway to the park. An enchanted stretch alongside this path is the place a slim previous mining ditch is lined with leopard lilies, cow parsnips, crimson columbine and different wildflowers.

During the winter, the park’s excessive elevation, 4,000 to eight,000 toes, means a variety of snow, which closes the campground by October 1 however the park’s headquarters stay open all year long. Winter is a major season for this park. The previous tramway was the world’s first ski elevate, the place the early day miners assist aggressive ski races, utilizing what have been then known as Norwegian-type “snow shoes” which have been 12 to 14 toes lengthy. Nowadays the nonprofit Plumas County Ski Club operates a ski elevate within the Eureka Bowl space on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays through the ski season.

For extra info on the park, contact Plumas-Eureka State Park, 310 Johnsville Road, Blairsden, California 96103 (530)836-2380. For extra concerning the forest, contact Plumas National Forest, Box 1500, Quincy, California 95971 (530)283-2050.

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