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From Chester go 2 miles southwest on State Route 36 and turn south on SR 89; you'll find several access points to the trail along the highway. You can park at the Almanor boat ramp parking lot (near the Almanor North campground). There are 4 other parking areas between the community of Prattville and SR 89.
Based on the description and previous reviews, I expected this to be a fairly level, meandering paved trail with a few gentle hills. Well, after traveling the entire trail I would have to say there are barely any flat spots at all. The elevation gain is 1,322 feet, but it is mostly up and down, up and down. It is a very scenic trail but just be prepared for a bit of climbing. The trail itself was all paved, and aside from pine needles and a few fallen sticks it was great. My GPS said the entire loop was 22.92 miles.
Love this trail and ride it frequently.
Not as well maintained as in years past so watch for debris on trail and blind sharp corners where brush has grown to 6' tall or so. All in all a terrific ride !
Climbs toward north third can be difficult for young kids or infrequent riders.
Fun trail with some variety in the terrain; not just flat. Well maintained and well marked. Lake views and scenic views of Mt. Lassen. Stayed at a bicycle friendly motel, Cedar Lodge in Chester, CA. Lodge is clean, family friendly and no frills i.e. no pool,A/C or ice machine.
Looking forward to another trip to the area to ride this trail and the Bizz Johnson trail.
October 2012 It was a busy day for trail survey. Finish up the survey on the Eagle Lake Trail, then down to Chester – where there are no fast food establishments – and on to the Lake Almanor Rec Trail after lunch. There have been some improvements since we were last here. One big one is that there are now highway signs pointing the way to the north end trail head on Humbug-Humboldt Rd. off CA 89. We turned in. Yes, there is a small dirt parking lot and a nice information sign, plus a blacktop trail. The other end of the trail is down in Rocky Point Campground. The TrailBear last surveyed here in August of 2009 and it was storm season. You could get a morning in, and then it was time to scamper for shelter ahead of the thunder storms. Now, in October after a drought summer all was sunshine and cloudless skies. Good survey weather for looking at the north half of the trail. We parked in a campsite at Almanor North CG. Assemble the trike and TB was off, heading north. The trail runs through both Almanor North and South campgrounds. A short pedal puts you on a spur trail to the boat launch. Here is parking, a choice of a vault toilet and a nice new flushie and lake views. Good place for a trailhead if you are not camping (day use fee included in CG fee). These are the last facilities on the north end. Downhill from the parking lot to the lake. Here is something new: mile posts. Posts in both directions. The one on the slope is a 9, so there are about two plus miles to the end. The trail is broad, with a chip seal surface and lots of tight curves as it wanders around the trees. It is either climbing or descending. The trail follows the lake for about a mile. There is one wayside and other views, but these woods are not managed for views from the trail. For that you want the Eagle Lake Trail. By MP 10 it is obvious that you are in for a long uphill grind as it climbs the slope and winds around a ridge, descends, climbs again, and descends to the north end trailhead. Now turn around and retrace the route. Happily, that long uphill grind is now an exciting downhill. It is made more exciting by the tight turns, the needles that cover and obscure the trail and the large pine cones that litter it. Try not to hit a cone while careening around a corner. TrailBear is hiking out and using brake steering on the trike to slingshot around the tight corners while trying to see where the trail runs to find the line to the next corner. Where is the sweeper truck for some trail grooming when you need him? TB was a bit busy to keep an eye on the speedo, but the GPS recorded a max speed of 20.4 mph on that section. Not bad. Do the slope a few times and we can kick the speed up. Probably not in summer with the crowds, but today there were only a few folks on the trail. Soon enough the campground appears. Pack up and head down the mountain to Chico Costco for some $3.94 gas in the midst of another California Gas Price Panic. This is an excellent price. It’s almost like Oregon, but not quite. Trike on! TrailBear Schussing between the trees.
TRAILBEAR CRUISES THE LAKE: The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail
Ratings on the ToolBear Triple Trail Rating Scale (1-5) is 4/4/5
Trail surface - 4-5. Eight foot black top trail with root heaves marked in white as need.
Facilities - 4. Benches, bike racks, overlooks, signage, vault toilet, blacktop parking, etc.
Scenery – 5. Lakeshore sections with views of lake, Mt. Lassen, etc.
The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail starts in the PG&E Rocky Point Campground on the west shore of Lake Almanor, about 2.5 miles west of the dam on Rt. 89 and runs up the lake to the Almanor Campground and beyond. You are riding in forest. Sections have lake views. Other sections are up in the woods.
You have choices of trail head and where to start the ride. You can park at the small trail head at the entrance to the Rocky Point campground road. (GPS: 40d 11.481N x 121d 07.099W) Enter the campground and they will want $$$, however it’s a nice campground with a lot of lake view sites. Sure beats the USFS Almanor Campground (swampy, antique loos) up Rt. 89.
You can park at the Dyer View Trailhead (no fee) to the west and ride some out and backs in both directions (GPS: N40d 12.153 x W121d 08.171). Look for Almanor West Drive off Rt. 89 appx. 0.6 miles west of the campground entrance road. The road into Dyer View is at GPS N40d 12.106 x W121d 08.238. Dyer View has ample parking, a vault toilet, trash, info and interpretative signage, bike racks and benches with lake views. However – no water.
You can go up to the USFS Almanor campground some miles up the road and pick up the trail there. ((GPS: N40 13.046 W121 10.603). There is parking, water, loos, tables, etc.
For a map of the trail…
The trail starts to the east of the campground trailhead on a small point. You can take a nice ride out and back through the campground to the trailhead and then head west. This section has root heaves marked in white paint.
First stop is the wayside and viewpoint on the Point (GPS: 40d 12.199’N x 121d 07.414’W). Enjoy the lake views. There are benches, a bike rack and interpretative signs. The trail winds in and out around trees, up and down slopes, past overlook benches and views and generally is going up or down.
As you near the summer home hamlet of Pratville, the trail leaves the lake and the private lands ahead and climbs inland to get around them while remaining in Forest Service lands. Then it’s down into Almanor Campground where you can find water and restroom. Another route would be to follow the road thru Pratville and thence uphill to Almanor CG.
I did the eastern section of the trail as an Out N Back from my campsite at Rocky Point CG. Where the trail left the lake to get around Pratville, I headed back on Almanor West Drive, then cut down a power line trace to the trail east of Dyer View. Didn’t see much shoulder up on Rt. 89, but that is a quicker way back. I was inspired to get moving back by those wet-looking clouds and the sound of thunder growing ever closer.
Made it back dry, but we were getting deluge showers on as we headed up to Almanor CG in the van. Sat there a while, watching it come down, then packed it in headed on. In summer, make this an early morning ride. If you are off the trail by noon, you don’t catch a deluge. Usually.
If you do Almanor, head over to Susanville and do the Bizz Johnson Trail. Keep an eye on the clouds gathering as you ride. The best parts are the first miles from Susanville to the highway crossing over the Susan River, i.e., tunnels, bridges, canyon scenery. There is also a new mountain bike park in Susanville, so there is something for everyone over there. Even a Wal-Mart.
Trying to outride the rain.
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