Miles and miles of backcountry roads in and around the county's quiet communities appeal to road bicyclists of all ages. Mountain biking is a favorite pursuit for many visitors. The surrounding forest land provides many miles of biking opportunities, including abandoned logging roads, trails and some backcountry roads, offering a good cross-section of terrain and topography. Lake Almanor recreation trail is 13 mile paved trail suitable for kids offering great views of the lake and access to beaches. Check a county or community map or ask us for the safest, most scenic and best-known routes.
For bike rental contact Bodfish Bicycles & Quiet Mountain Sports at (530) 258-2338, located just across the street from The Bidwell House.
With so much forest around, you can't help but run across some of Plumas County's wild creatures. Viewing wildlife in their natural habitat is one of the area's best (and free) attractions. Deer, bald eagles and waterfowl are among the most popular and easy species to observe. Nearly 300 different bird species live in the surrounding national forest, which offers great habitat with its many lakes, meadows, marshes, streams and trees. Most spots for viewing have easy access for those who wish to bird by vehicle, as well as many developed hiking trails for more adventurous birders. Plumas County's many rivers and streams also host populations of riparian bird species: common mergansers, wood ducks, sand hill cranes, yellow warblers, lazuli bunting, American dipper, downey, Nuttall's woodpeckers and Lewis' as well as many others during a pleasant stroll. In late fall/early winter, tundra swans often flock to the meadow across form The Bidwell House; a spectacular sight!
Plumas County's golf courses are renowned for their lush, wooded settings and spectacular mountain backdrops. Three of them are located on the pristine shores of Lake Almanor, no more than a 10-minute drive from The Bidwell House. Golfers can usually get on the course of their choosing without much difficulty, but it's best to make tee times in advance during the peak summer months.
For tee time call Lake Almanor West at (530) 259-4555, Lake Almanor Country Club at (530) 259-2868 or Bailey Creek at (530) 259-GOLF.
There is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the Plumas County area than by exploring it first-hand and on foot. You can experience the magnificence of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges along an extensive system of hiking trails. About 80 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) stretch across Plumas County, with elevations ranging from 2,400 to 7,000 feet. This famous west coast trail encompasses a total of 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. In Plumas County, the PCT can be accessed 10 miles west of Chester, at Belden in the Feather River Canyon, at Bucks Summit on Bucks Lake Road, off Big Creek Road near Bucks Lake, along the Quincy/La Porte Road, and in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The Almanor Basin offers a myriad of hiking opportunities, including the paved Lake Almanor Recreation Trail that follows the west shore of the lake. The Almanor area also is close to some magnificent hikes within Lassen Volcanic National Park and the nearby Caribou Wilderness Area.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, boating, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing and swimming are among the more popular water sports available at Lake Almanor. There are full service marinas and boat rentals, as well as public launches available.
Ride in the High Sierra! There are a number of stables in Chester/Lake Almanor basin that offer trail rides, instruction for individuals and family with or without prior horseback riding experience. Take a horseback ride back in time into terrain that brings you to pristine lake country and towering pine forests.
Gold panning and mining have been popular activities in Plumas County since the 1800s. Although most of the camps that sprung up during the gold rush are now gone, there are some spots where visitors can relive history and even find a few remaining flakes of gold.
Experienced gold panners with equipment are welcome to seek gold anywhere on public national forest land that has not been staked (usually where posted). A few areas exist where claims are not allowed and recreational gold panning is permitted.
Contact the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe National Forest offices for more details on gold panning regulations. If you're interested in learning how to pan for gold on your own, the Plumas County Museum, located behind the courthouse in Quincy, has a good reference book for sale. The book explains how and where to pan, what equipment is needed, safety tips, and includes diagrams, drawings and photos. Equipment for gold panning can be purchased at area sporting goods and department stores.
Antique collectors will love Chester/Lake Almanor Basin and the entire Plumas County for its abundance and variety of quaint shops. You'll find items ranging from the 1880s through the 1950s. Many of the stores are housed in historic buildings or located amid stunning forest scenery. Some stores specialize in furniture or home furnishings, while others combine antiques with Americana, gifts, and secondhand treasures. Antique buffs also can expect to find books, primitives, model trains and logging and mining equipment that reflect Plumas County's earliest industries. The Eastern Plumas area offers an opportunity to follow the historic Beckwourth Trail (Highway 70) while taking in nearly a dozen stores located in the towns of Beckwourth, Portola, Blairsden and Graeagle. Continuing west to the town of Quincy, collectors will find a store on Highway 70 in East Quincy and on Main Street in downtown Quincy. The Indian Valley area offers stores in both Crescent Mills and on Main Street in Greenville, where shoppers can browse in early 1900's buildings, including a former saloon. The town of Chester has a Main Street worth exploring for antiques, including home furnishings, furniture, glass, pottery and collectibles. You'll find many stores in walking distance from The Bidwell House. Surround yourself in nostalgia by browsing in unique buildings that were once mill workers' quarters or family homes.
Lake Almanor area has spectacular fall colors that dazzle year after year. Masses of burnished golds and sunlit yellows flecked with brilliant reds and rich magentas, set against the majestic greens of the mountains and the royal blue sky qualify Chester as a must-see destination for nature lovers and camera buffs during late September, October and early November. The season is also a time to take in the crisp mountain air, enjoy a more quiet pace, and experience country fun at harvest festivals and other special events.
Plan to be here this fall, and don't forget your camera. Along all of scenic highways, you’ll be treated to some of the most dazzling fall foliage in California. Special spots include Lake Almanor, the Feather River Canyon, Indian Valley, the Quincy-Oroville Road, the Quincy-La Porte Road, Round Valley Reservoir Road and the Lakes Basin. Some of the best color may be found off-road on a trail or forest service road.
Virtually the entire forest is open for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, with options ranging from beginner-level flat, groomed track to challenging peaks and backcountry calling for more advanced telemarking skill.
An interpretive recreation trail on the west shore of Lake Almanor provides miles of great scenery and easy access. McGowan Lake, Childs Meadow, Warner Valley Road, and the Caribou Wilderness all afford quiet excursions near Chester.
Lassen Park is just 35 miles from Chester on Highway 36/89. Lassen Volcanic National Park boasts over 150 miles of marked and unmarked trails for non-motorized winter sports. Don't forget your skis and snowboards while visiting The Bidwell House in winter. Lassen Community College operates Coppervale Ski Hill serviced by Poma lift, located about 19 miles east of Chester. The area has trails of various skill levels, a face and a bowl and a newly created terrain park.
For snowshoes and cross country ski equipment rental contact Bodfish Bicycles & Quiet Mountain Sports at (530) 258-2338, located just across the street from The Bidwell House.