We headed up to Lake Almanor for some fun on the water and also for some time spinning around the lake by bicycle. If you’ve never been to Lake Almanor and you have the opportunity, it is a little gem of a lake and town of Chester, sandwiched 120 miles to the south by the famed Lake Tahoe and 40 miles to the north by Lake Shasta (not to confused by Eric Estrada’s info-mercials pushing Lake Shastina).
Lake Almanor sits on the eastern flank of 10,457ft Mt Lassen, the southern most volcano in the Cascade range. Lassen was the last volcano to erupt in the U.S. prior to Mt St Helens blowing its top off. Along the northern rim and below, known as the Devastation Zone, I doubt much has changed in the 95 or so years since its eruption as it is still primarily a grey-brown ash colored landscape.
From the peak of Lassen, you have a 360 degree view, which includes Lake Almanor, Mt Shasta whose snow covered peak rises 14,179ft, and the Trinity Alps, along the coast in Northern California. Surprisingly,Â the stand-alone MtÂ LassenÂ receives some of the most snow in California, even more than the 14,000 footers in the state.
While Lake Tahoe attracts the masses and for good reason, as its beauty is renowned the across the country, Lake Almanor has plenty of its own virtues.Â One of theÂ biggest and one of main the reasons I like it so much is that I amÂ not in and amongst the masses that Tahoe happens to attract. Another significant one being theÂ commandingÂ 10,457ft snow tipped Mt Lassen 30 miles to the west. Lake Tahoe cannot evenÂ lay claim to having a snowcapped peak throughout the summer.
If you are into hiking, fishing, biking, camping, boating or paddleboarding, Lake Almanor is tough to beat for a long weekend with all of the possible activities nearby.Â And one of the best parts is, you have all of this without feeling as if you constantly rubbing shoulders with someone else.
I mentioned that Mt Lassen and Mt Shasta are snow covered, even well beyond July 4th. And I do not mean with just some ribbons of snow. Lassen has about a 1,500 foot section coming down from the summitÂ as of July 7th andÂ this is after back to back light Sierra snow years. And Shasta has even more than that with its ability to hold the snow a little longer since its 3,700 feet taller. So in addition to the above mentioned summer activities, bring your skis or snowboard and take in some quality vert, even in July.
The only chain stores in the lakesideÂ town of Chester are the Chevron and Shell gas stations. Other than that, its locally owned mom & pop shops. These local stores are where you can find out all the information you need regarding any of the biking, fishing or boating activities you will want to do.
A morning 42 mile cycle around the lake followed by a dip in the cool waters afterwards is a must. If you are a road or mountain biker needing advice, be sure to check out the Bodfish Bicycle shop as the owner, Chuck, has extensive local knowledge of the trails and roads. He has written books on road biking in California, Fat Tire Biking in California, Hiking in Lassen region & Paddling in and around Lake Almanor. He is quiet, un-assuming andÂ most of all, aÂ trove of information.
So, the next time you wonder where you should spend some quality quiet time away from the masses, checkout Lake Almanor and the surrounding Mt Lassen area.
– Lane Lawrence