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Bucks Lake...where unwinding is brought to a fine art.

Bucks Lake . . . where unwinding is brought to a fine art

Like a big smooth jewel, Bucks Lake glitters peacefully amid the forested valleys and rocky mountaintops of rugged Plumas County, in northeastern California.

Set serenely between the tortuous North and Middle forks of the Feather River and 18 miles southwest of the charming gold rush town of Quincy, the Bucks Lake area offers the summer visitor boating, camping, fishing, swimming, lodging, hiking, even a little dancing on Saturday night. In this low-key vacation spot, about a 5-hour drive from the Bay Area, unwinding is brought to a fine art.

Bucks Lake was once a lush valley divided by a meandering creek and inhabited by Maidu Indians. But in the 1920s, Great Western Power demmed the valley for hydroelectricity, and 20,000-acre Bucks Lake was born.

At an altitude of 5,000 feet, the lake enjoys a comfortable summer climate. Daytime temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, evenings in the 50s and 60s--quite reasonable for camping. The lake warms up into the 70s. Quincy, in the American Valley at 3,400 feet, has days in the 90s.

Low-key, rustic resorts

Bucks Lake Lodge and Lakeshore Resort operate May through October along the south shore of Bucks Lake. Both offer lodging in rustic housekeeping cabins for $32 to $60 per night, depending on their size. Reservations are recommended: write or call Bucks Lake Lodge, Box 236, Meadow Valley 95971, (916) 283-2262; or Lakeshore Resort, Box 266, Quiney 95971, 283-2333.

Both lodges have restaurants (serving three meals a day) and Saturday night entertainment with dancing. Each also has a small store, gas pumps, and boat rentals. Bucks Lake Lodge rents canoes for $12 a day and 8-hp fishing boats for $35 a day, including gas. Lakeshore Resort rents fishing boats for $30 a day. For visitors who bring their own boats for fishing or waterskiing, both resorts have launch ramps ($2 fee) and gas docks.

Quincy has seven motels and one bed-and-breakfast inn. For a list, write to the chamber of commerce, Box 1018, Quincy 95971; or call (916) 283-2045.

Camping around the lake

Five Forest Service campgrounds surround Bucks Lake: Grizzly Creek (no fee), Haskins Valley (no fee), White Horse ($4 per night), Sundew ($5), and Mill Creek ($5). Sites are available on a first-come basis.

In addition, three group sites at Hutchins Campground can be reserved. For details, call (916) 534-6500 or write to the Oroville Ranger Station at 875 Mitchell Ave., Oroville 95965; fee is $20 per site.

Campground maps ($1) are available from Plumas National Forest, Box 1500, Quincy 95971, or in person at the office, 159 Lawrence Street, in Quincy (open 8 to 5 weekdays).

Hitting the trail

For hikers, trails in the area range from easy lakeside strolls to longer, more challenging routes suitable for backpacking. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the area, so you can try a section of it as well. We suggest three hikes:

Bucks Lake shore traverse. This pleasant stroll is good for fishermen or swimmers who want easy access to a lot of shoreline. Orange-and-blue signs on trees mark the 3-mile route along this section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail.

The trailhead is just west of White Horse Campground. About 50 yards before Bucks Lake Road crosses Bucks Creek, take a rutted dead-end road that branches right; you can park here. Look for the Riding and Hiking Trail signs.

The trail is shaded by white fir and lodgepole pine, but not enough to block views over the lake. Bracken fern, corn lily, and yarrow grow in the marshy soils. Then you encounter the drier, rockier beaches. After about 3 miles, you reach Mill Creek Campground.

Gold Lake Trail. This rewarding 3.4-mile (round-trip) hike gives you a lot: it's scenic, short, fairly easy, and interesting from a geological point of view.

From Silver Lake trailhead, you first walk across the dam at Silver Lake and go up a ridge. At the top, 1/4 mile later, you can make out snow-topped Mount Lassen to the north.

Traversing a rocky mountainside, you climb up over a lip and descend to picturesque Gold Lake for a picnic and swim. A cirque created by glacial movement, it nestles in a steep-walled bowl under the distinctive shadow of Spanish Peak.

From the same trailhead, you can also reach two smaller lakes, Rock and Mud; the trail branches off shortly after you leave Silver Lake.

To get to Silver Lake, drive 6 miles east of Bucks Lake and look for Silver Lake Road on your left. It's 5 miles up the mountainside on a good unpaved road to Silver Lake; at road's end is the trailhead.

Pacific Crest Trail. About 3 miles east of Bucks Lake, the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Bucks Lake Road. If you take the trail to your left (11 miles one way), you ascend a ridge up past Spanish Peak, around Mount Pleasant, and on past Three Lakes. The trail drops down to Rich Bar on the North Fork of the Feather River and State Highway 70.

If you choose the trail to the right, you descend to the Middle Fork of the Feather River in 19 miles.

The Bucks Lake Wilderness Area extends from the north shore of Bucks Lake to State 70. Reserved for hikers or horsemen, it is undeveloped and best seen from the Pacific Crest Trail.

The country is rugged and little traveled. It's a good idea to carry water. For information on the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails in the area, write to Plumas National Forest (address on page 11), or call (916) 283-2050.

Quincy: a gold rush town still going strong

Gold was discovered in the Quincy area around 1850, and a town quickly grew up around H.J. Bradley's hotel. When it became county seat, in 1854, it took its name from Bradley's Illinois home town.

The Plumas County Museum offers a good look at the area's past, with handiwork of the pioneers, mining equipment, Indian artifacts, and literature. It's open 10 to 4 weekends, 8 to 5 weekdays at 500 Jackson Street (near the courthouse).

Quincy is a lively town of 7,500 and has a shopping center, restaurants, and camping and recreation supplies.

Getting there

From the Bay Area, there are three ways:

From I-80, take State Highway 89 northwest 80 miles from Truckee to Quincy. Or go north from Sacramento to Oroville 68 miles, then follow State 70 for 80 winding miles from Oroville to Quincy; this slow but beautiful route along the North Fork of the Feather River suffered winter flood damage, so call CalTrans at (415) 923-4444 for a current report. The adventurous may wish to take the Oroville-Quincy Highway from Oroville to Bucks Lake (50 miles); it's scenic and shorter in miles than State 70, but 17 of the miles are gravel.

Photo: Boaters call it a day as they haul small outboard onto trailer at Bucks Lake Lodge's launching ramp

Photo: A meal with a view: dinner hour is sunny and serene at Lakeshore Resort, overlooking the lake

Photo: Moving into the morning sun, canoeists enjoy a peaceful paddle before breakfast. Rentals are available through Bucks Lake Lodge

Photo: Three highways lead to Bucks Lake: State 70, State 89, and Oroville-Quincy Highway--each 5 to 6 hours from Bay Area

Photo: At Plumas County Museum, visitors get a look at turn-of-the-century living in town that's been county seat since 1854

Photo: Skipping rocks at sundown entertains this group at slow-paced Bucks Lake

Photo: Quiet Gold Lake, situated snugly under Spanish Peak, awaits hikers 1.6 miles from Silver Lake trailhead
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1986
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