Plumas County: The Hidden Gem of Northern California

Plumas County: The Hidden Gem of Northern California

By: Audrey Van Huff


When people think California, they likely think about Hollywood, surfing, and movie stars. But when I think about California, I always end up daydreaming about endless forests, mountaintops, hiking, waterfalls, and reeling in another fish.

I am from a small town in Plumas County you've probably never heard of. But I was blessed to grow up with more than 100 lakes, streams and rivers that went on for miles, and over a million acres of national forest.

I haven’t even come close to exploring every lake, but so far I have two favorites.

Lake Almanor, is the largest and most popular lake in the area. It has great trout and bass fishing, and it's short drive from Quincy, my hometown. 

If you aren’t into fishing don't worry, Almanor has plenty more to offer. You can ride jet skis out, go for a hike, or even just sit and take in its mesmerizing beauty.

Antelope Lake is a little more off the beaten path at about an hour and a half drive from Quincy. Trust me, this one is worth the extra effort; I have never seen more than one or two other people out on the lake, so it makes for a very private, intimate setting.

The water is like glass and the wildlife is remarkable: we've seen bears, deer, pelicans, bald eagles, and countless others. This gem within a gem is one of the most breathtaking spots in the county. 

My dad and I do a lot of bass fishing at Antelope. But honestly, he does most of the catching; He's a bit of a bass whisperer. 

Likewise, Antelope Lake isn't just for people who love to fish. There's a beautiful campsite you can stay at. It's so tranquil and secluded, so I always make time to take a leisurely tranquil walk to just feel as close to nature as possible. And the sandy shores make the perfect picnic spot. 

Hiking is a very popular activity in Plumas County. There are hikes here for all skill levels and age ranges; part of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) even passes through it.

One of my all-time favorite hikes is the trail from Silver Lake to Spanish Peak. This 7.4 mile hike is absolutely beautiful, and the trailhead is less than 20 miles from my house! Last time, we left at 3:30 a.m. and got to the peak just in time for sunrise. We also met a PCT hiker along the way because the two hikes overlap one another.

The Spanish Peak hike is more challenging than others, so download a hiking trail app on your phone and work your way up! I have the AllTrails app and would not have made it to the peak in the dark without the map. Apps like these can also help you find other hikes in the area listed by skill level, length, or hiker reviews. Prefer mountain biking over hiking? No worries, mountain biking is a rapidly growing sport in Plumas County, and there are plenty of trails for you to take on. 

If you are more interested in winter activities, bring your gear! Plumas County is a very popular area for snowmobilers, skiers, snowboarders, and even snowshoers. Johnsville, which is about a half hour from Quincy, even hosts several longboard ski races every winter. Talk about a flash from the past! I encourage you to come see for yourself, but don’t forget your snow chains!

If you are interested in visiting Plumas County, no matter what season, I highly recommend checking out There you can find where you’ll stay, where you want to eat, and even more things to do while you’re here. You won’t want to miss out on this hidden gem of the Sierras.

*All photos were submitted by the writer unless otherwise noted.