Snowmobiling in Plumas County
January 28, 2019 by: Sharon Roberts
Did you know that Plumas County is known to have some of the best snowmobiling in California? In fact, the county has one of the largest numbers of registered snowmobiles in the entire state. Lassen National Forest and the Lake Almanor Basin are popular snowmobiling destinations for locals and out-of-towners alike. The logging roads surrounding the St. Bernard Lodge are also great spots for taking your snowmobile for a spin. Our winters last from mid-December until late March, so there is still plenty of time to give this unique and adrenaline-boosting sport a try.
With over 4 million snowmobilers across Canada and the US, it is easy to see why snowmobiling is such a popular winter sport. Snowmobiling is a great way to get off-the-beaten path, literally and figuratively. It gives you access to parts of the forest that might otherwise be difficult to reach on foot or skis and affords unbeatable views of the scenery and wildlife of these “undiscovered” areas. Snowmobiling is a fun and thrilling way to step away from the everyday demands of life, reconnect with family and friends, and explore the wonders of the natural world.
A Few of Our Favorite Trails
There are five different snowmobile staging areas in Chester: Morgan Summit, the Chester-Lake Almanor Snowmobile Park, Swain Mountain, Fredonyer, and Jonesville. Morgan Summit is located about 20 minutes west of the St. Bernard Lodge on Hwy 36. Within the snowmobile park, you fill find 77 scenic miles of designated trails as well as plenty of parking, a warming hot, and vault toilets. The Chester-Lake Almanor Snowmobile Park is the staging area for the annual Chester-Lake Almanor Poker Run, in which participants must visit multiple checkpoints and draw a card at each one, with the hopes of earning the best poker hand by the race’s end. Swain Mountain, about 40 minutes from the lodge, offers 60 miles of designated trails with 3 different loops. At Fredonyer, you’ll find 90 miles of trails and 3 loops.
Bucks Lake, located 17 miles southwest of Quincy on Bucks Lake Road, has long been considered one of the premier snowmobiling destinations in the West. You’ll find up to 100 well-groomed trails and hundreds more ungroomed trails throughout the forest. Start at their staging grounds at either Bucks Summit or Big Creek. Be advised that snowmobiling is not allowed in the Bucks Lake Wilderness Area.
Indian Valley also offers miles of breathtaking, ungroomed terrain. You can take the unplowed road from Genesee to Antelope Lake, the Lights Creek trail north of Taylorsville, and Old Haun Road north of Greenville.
Basic Trail Manners and Safety Tips
Snowmobiling is a fun adventure anyone can enjoy, but it can also be dangerous. To ensure that you stay safe and respectful of other riders, please obey all trail etiquette and follow these simple safety tips:
- Always travel with someone else. It is also important to let someone know where you will be and when you plan on returning. Many of the routes are out of reception, so do not count on your cell phone working.
- Learn basic hand gestures in order to get the attention of others before going out on a snowmobile. Snowmobiles can be loud and it is difficult to hear other riders.
- When you are near skiers, snowshoers, or wildlife, please be courteous and slow snowmobile to a minimum.
Please do not take wheeled vehicles on groomed trails.
- Please do not snowmobile on trails designated for XC skiers and snowshoers only.
- Follow the Leave No Trace rule. Make sure to take out anything that you bring into the forest, including food and human waste. If possible, remove trash that others have left behind.
- Avoid riding over small trees and bushes.
- Check updated weather and avalanche report from the Forest Service or other agency before heading out. We are happy to help you with this if you are staying at the Lodge.
- Do not chase or harass animals in the forest.
- Be prepared with survival supplies and knowledge of how to build a snow cave in case unseen events occur.
- And most importantly, have fun!
At the St. Bernard Lodge, we are very informed about all the best local trails and are happy to provide you with directions and keep you informed on current snow and trail conditions.
Planning a winter adventure to Chester, California? Book a stay at the historic St. Bernard Lodge, located near Lassen Volcanic Park and Lake Almanor.