Plumas National Forest

Plumas National Forest lies in the Sierra Nevada range of California. The land comprises 1,146,000 acres of scenic, shady woodlands, glistening mountain lakes, wildflower meadows, and looming peaks. These woods are located just above Eldorado National Forest and Carson City. On average, the forest is light on foot traffic and a great choice for people who prioritize space from other hikers.

The vast majority of the forest is inside Plumas County, however, the forest is so vast that it actually extends into four other neighboring counties: Lassen, Butte, Sierra, and Yuba.  

A mountain lake - Plumas National Forest has many of these
The natural beauty of Plumas National Forest is rugged, serene and peaceful – Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

About Plumas National Forest

These capricious Sierra Nevada woods generate environments of highly varying terrains. At a scale of 2,400 feet above sea level to 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s easy to see how so many different kinds of habitats are born out of these beautiful mountains. The land slowly changes from old-growth timber at the valley floors all the way up to bare sub-alpine peaks. Douglas firs and sugar pines give shelter to many California species of interest, including elusive birds and mammals alike, such as spotted owls and bassarisks.   

If you don’t mind a trail with a little more traffic, we recommend walking the Bear Lakes and Round Lake Loop Trail, a 4-mile moderate trail featuring a sparkling mountain lake.  You may also choose to spend a day lounging with a great picnic at The Lost Cove Boatramp of Antelope Lake. Settle into your picnic shelter next to the water and watch for sprightly kingfishers and graceful sandhill cranes. Keep an eye on the water too, for the adorable Western pond turtles!

History of the Forest

The General Land Office first established Plumas in 1905. However, it wasn’t until the following year that the GLO transferred administration of the forest to the USDA. Another year went by, and in 1907, the USDA designated it as a national forest. When a forest becomes a national forest, it is owned by the federal government who then manages and protects the land to ensure it can always serve the American people.

Here’s a crazy factoid for you; historians have found evidence that, in the 1850s, the gold miners in their camps would often pass the time by skiing and boarding down Plumas’ mountains! For some time, prospectors lived large portions of their lives in these camps of mines that grew until most of the gold had been depleted in the areas they inhabited.

Once all the gold ran out, the local economies began to shift towards the other resources of the forests such as timber and minerals, leading President Theodore Roosevelt to act. His preservation of 150 forests during his term is the reason we still have our own native lands to rely on today, for both economic reasons and as recreation for public enjoyment.

 The forest gained acreage in 1908 when Diamond Mountain Forest was split between Plumas and Lassen National Forest; Diamond Mountain Forest was discontinued as its own entity and was completely absorbed into the two larger forests.  ‘Diamond Mountain Forest’ no longer exists, but of course, the majestic mountains do. This section of Plumas and Lassen offers sport climbing, hiking, and skiing. Plus, at 8,197 feet above sea level, the view is spectacular!  

Hiking Plumas National Forest offers some spectacular views – Image by Ales Krivec from Pixabay

Ranger Districts

This remarkably large forest requires the management efforts of multiple administrative branches,  including one supervisor’s office and three separate ranger’s districts. Reach out to any of these sources while planning your visit to the forest, they can answer questions about important permits, fire guidelines, and current conditions. You can also just ask them what trails and overlooks they recommend. Be sure to stop by the beautiful visitor center too!

The Supervisor’s Office
Tel: (530) 283-2050
159 Lawrence Street
Quincy, CA 95971-6025

Beckwourth Ranger District
(530) 836-2575
Mohawk Road
Blairsden, CA 96103

Mt. Hough Ranger District
(530) 283-0555
39696 State Highway 70
Quincy, CA 95971

Feather River Ranger District
(530) 534-6500
875 Mitchell Avenue
Oroville, CA 95965-46

Recreation in Plumas National Forest

Are you getting your little ones out into nature to learn more about wild California? Or maybe you are interested in learning more about nature yourself? Download this free Trees of Plumas print-off sheet to take with you to the forest. How many of the trees on the list can you spot? How many birds can you identify? Do you know any by call?

There are countless learning opportunities in Plumas for the family to make into fun hiking games. And while you’re at it, take this List of Wild Sighting Tips from the USDA describing how you can more easily attract wildlife discoveries on your outings! From what you wear to how you walk, the slightest detail can be the difference between a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sighting and the blur of a swiftly bolting animal.

If you’re an educator looking to get your kids into nature, consider using the free resources provided here at This website provides homework, resources, lesson plans, and projects for kids K-12 learning about the environment.  Educators designed this material to promote critical thinking, a general knowledge of nature, and good environmental ethics. You don’t even have to be a teacher to take advantage of this opportunity for free knowledge!

Mountain Lion - they are sometimes spotted in Plumas National Forest
Mountain lions are sometimes spotted in Plumas National Forest – Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The Nature of Plumas National Forest

Plumas, like other mountainous regions with impressive elevational changes, contains many different kinds of habitats. The rangers sometimes give educational hikes to observe different aspects of all these amazing ecosystems, such as the June 19th hike to observe the pollinators. The group got to learn about how the different plants in each environment attract their specialized pollinators. View fun photos of this hike from National Get Outdoors Day here!

Plumas National Forest is a phenomenal place for wildlife viewers. If you go for the wildlife sightings, be sure not to wear any strong perfumes or lotions, and remember to bring a good pair of binoculars. You’ll need them to spy Plumas’ populations of chipmunk, deer, coyote, raccoon, otter, and skunk. You may also come across tracks from the elusive bobcats and mountain lions, who usually do not allow themselves to be seen.

Visit Plumas National Forest

From game bird hunters to horseback riders, Plumas National Forest is a gorgeous place of natural learning opportunities and experiences. Children and adults alike travel here to learn, explore, and create unforgettable memories.   

Stay up to date with the latest Alerts and Notices from the Plumas National Forest, and save  to your reading list so you’ll always have a quick and easy connection to America’s national forests.

Have fun, be safe, and leave no trace!

-By Heaven Morrow

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