While heading toward Lake Tahoe may be the most well-traveled route for mountain lovers from the Bay Area, others have discovered another jewel nestled in the Northern California forest, Lake Almanor. Lake Almanor lies under the backdrop of an active volcano, the mighty and majestic Mount Lassen, not far past Mount Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Mineral entrance.

This lake is popular for fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking and other water sports. It boasts three golf courses, great dining spots, and a variety of lakeside resorts. Two free boat ramps are available while several of the resorts offer launching and docking for a modest fee.
The lake and its 52 miles of shoreline offer plenty of wide, open spaces to recreate. Picnic areas, scenic overlooks, campgrounds, and resorts dot the perimeter of Almanor.
Our adventure landed us at Plumas Pines Resort on the west shore where we had chosen a spacious little cabin with a kitchen and picturesque lake views.

Cool drinks on the deck at Plumas Pines Resort

Although, we barely used the kitchen. Instead, we enjoyed our morning breakfasts at Carol’s Café, an old-fashioned café with good home cooking, just down the road in Prattville. The scent of fresh baked muffins invited us in, and the flavors of the food prepared by Carol herself drew us back each day.

Carol’s Cafe and Westshore Deli at Camp Prattville

We headed into Chester for some shopping. We were hooked on the local shopping so much that we had a hard time getting ourselves out of the shops.
At one point we stopped and bought a loaf of sourdough, a variety of cheeses, and a decadent slice of layer cake for the sunset excursion we had planned for later that day.
We headed back to the cabin with only a few hours left until sunset. I made a pot of locally roasted coffee and steamed a pitcher of half and half. We sat outside at a table on the lawn to enjoy the quiet views of the lake while we broke into the bread and cheese early.

Sunset by Todd Greer, Plumas Pines Resort

The east shore is renowned to be the best spot to watch the sunset. We packed up the lemon cake and headed out to find a spot to sit and watch the sun go down. As if painted by hand, the skyline began to display vivid shades of orange and gold and yellow as the sun lowered to meet the mountain scene.
Once the sun had descended, we were off to dinner. We had heard about the great pizza at Buffalo Chips Pizza in the little town of Westwood just six miles from the lake. Housed in an old bunkhouse from Paul Bunyan and Babe’s hometown, this pizza joint lived up to its reputation.

The next morning’s agenda included wildly riding on some sporty new SeaDoo® watercraft. First, we walked down to the marina to Majors Outpost to receive full operating and safety instructions before shipping off to the west shore’s wide, uncrowded waters. We had a complete blast, laughing like kids on those things. Afterwards, we walked up the dock to see their selection of other rentals we could enjoy. We perused the boats including competition ski boats and big comfy pontoon boats with slides and barbecues. (Next trip!) We already had a full itinerary for this 3-day weekend.
We had considered a full day of hiking at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park but opted for a simpler, more laid-back agenda. We relaxed around the resort into the early afternoon, enjoying our coffee lakeside. We drove around the entire lake and onto the peninsula. There are many resorts there and another watercraft rental as well as loads of vacation rentals and a great little market that also mimics a step back in time.

We walked inside Peninsula Market, where a fresh old-fashioned deli offers many in-house selections. We carried out an assortment of their signature entrees (plus cinnamon rolls) and a bottle of wine from their rustic cellar-like room filled with a wide selection of fine wines and other top-shelf beverages.

We loaded up the ice chest in the car and headed back to Chester to enjoy our snacks by the Feather River in the park on Main Street. It is a nationally acclaimed “Wild & Scenic River.”
We then made our way around the west shore, passing a few more campgrounds on the way back to our cabin. We could see a Sacramento band, Nothin’ Personal, setting up for a Saturday night show at the Bar & Grill across the street. We decided to take in a late dinner there and catch at least one set of music. We sat on the deck overlooking the lake and enjoyed their show.
We had to head back Sunday. Next time, we will stay for a week and bring bicycles; there is a 10-mile paved trail on the lake!
Many resorts at the lake are open through October. You can find guides for dining, camping, and lodging at LakeAlmanorTravel.com.

for a week.
Many resorts at the lake are open through October. You can find guides for dining, camping, and lodging at LakeAlmanorTravel.com.