The Lake Basin | Plumas National Forest | Recreation


The Lake Basin Recreational Area is located between Graeagle Ca and HWY 49 near Sierra City accessed by the Gold Lake Forest HWY (Seasonal openings because of Snow load).


There is breathtaking scenery and over 20 small lakes nearby, most of which are accessible by hiking trails. This area provides a multitude of recreational activities including camping, fishing, boating, hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, swimming, windsurfing and nature study. In the winter visitors can snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe.

The mix of High Alpine Lakes, Lush National forest and Geological Rock features make this one of the most beautiful scenic BYWay recreational spots in the Sierra. Roughly an hour out of Truckee Ca off interstate 80. Many travelers will exit Interstate 80 and take a two-hour scenic tour up HWY 89 to Graeagle then over the Gold Lake HWY to HWY 49 and Down the Yuba River, reconnecting with Interstate 80 out of Grass Valley.

If you are going to the Lake Basin aRea for recreation here is some helpful information provided by the Plumas National Forest and the Beckwourth Ranger District.


There are over 30 miles of maintained trails that weave through this basin, even connecting up with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at its outer borders.  The trails offer a variety of difficulty levels from the leisurely stroll to an adventurous challenge. The trail network encompasses many of the serene lakes, as well as storm-battered tree stands and wildflower meadows. Equestrians and mountain bikers may enjoy miles of riding on many of the trails.


Lakes Basin Camp has 23 sites, 1 group site and is operated by a concessionaire. Reservations can be made on-line at or by calling 1-877-444-6777. There are 16 sites at the 4×4 Campground and designated primitive sites near Gold, Goose and Haven Lakes. Because of the elevation, the camping season at Lakes Basin usually begins in early June and ends in mid-October, depending on the weather. The maximum stay is 14 days. Backpack camping is only allowed at Smith, Grass, Rock, Jamison and Wades Lakes.

Campground Camping

Recreation areas with activity Campground Camping:


At Gold Lake, a paved boat ramp is located on the southeast shore. A developed picnic site

Gold Lake

Gold Lake off the Gold Lake HWY in Plumas National Forest

is nearby, and a vault toilet is available. On the northeast shore of Gold Lake, there is a gravel surfaced car-top launching ramp with a vault toilet and picnic tables available.



Located between Lakes Basin Campground and Elwell Lodge, interpretive signs explain art carved into nearby rocks by prehistoric Native Americans.

Red Fir Nature Trail

Along the road to Mills Peak, one mile south of the Fire Lookout, visitors can stop and take a short walk. Interpretive signs lead visitors through the life cycle of the beautiful and stately red fir forest.

Frazier Falls

The parking and picnic area is located two miles northeast of Gold Lake on the Frazier Falls

Frazier Falls

Frazier Fall in the Plumas National Forest

Road. The paved trail goes 1/2 mile from the parking area to the Frazier Falls Overlook. From this site, visitors can enjoy the majestic 176 foot vertical drop of the falls. The best viewing is in spring or early summer.


Road Side access Lakes
  • Lily Lake
    Lily Lake off the Gold Lake Forest HWY in Plumas National Forest

    Lily Lake off the Gold Lake Forest HWY in Plumas National Forest

  • Gold Lake – Largest lake and Only Lake with Boat Ramp
  • Goose Lake
  • Haven Lake
  • Snag Lake
Hiking Lakes
  • Big & Little Bear Lakes
  • Grass Lake
  • Smith Lake
  • Wades Lake
  • Jamison Lake
  • Rock Lake
  • Silver Lake
  • Cub Lake
  • Round Lake
  • Hidden Lake
  • Grassy Lake
  • Squaw Lake

Fishing and Hunting

Hunting and fishing are permitted in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Both are regulated by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mule deer and black bear are among the game animals taken. Rainbow and Eastern Brook trout are present in many of the lakes with good to excellent fishing in the deeper lakes

Mills Peak Fire Lookout

A three-mile drive northeast of Gold Lake, the Mills Peak Fire Lookout presents a panoramic view of Mohawk Valley. At an elevation of 7,342, the lookout was built-in 1932. It was designed with sides facing directly north, south, east and west to make it easier for lookouts to pinpoint fires on maps.