Lake Valley Reservoir


Trail photos

Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir


Trail stats

4.94 nm
Elevation gain
33 ft
Technical difficulty
Elevation loss
33 ft
Max elevation
5,832 ft
Min elevation
5,658 ft
Trail type
3 hours 37 minutes
September 11, 2022
August 2022
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near Yuba Pass, California (United States)

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Trail photos

Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir Photo ofLake Valley Reservoir

Itinerary description

Lake Valley Reservoir is a medium sized lake you can do with a SUP or short kayak. The dam and launch ramp are at the west end. There were two and a half islands when we were there. The one at the east end becomes a peninsula at lower water levels and we just missed it. I thought the east end of the lake is more interesting and prettier and is a popular lunch spot. We were able to go a little way up the north fork of the American River (really a creek) at the east end till it was blocked by a fallen tree. Another point of interest is the remains of a steam donkey about half way along the south shore that is visible from the lake amongst the trees. There is a 10 MPH limit on the lake so there are no fast motor craft causing wakes or disturbing the peace. It is a good lake for learning to paddle if you come early and beat the wind. The lake is easy to get to with paved roads most of the way and there is a helpful sign saying “Lake” where you turn off road 19. Google knows how to find “Lake Valley Reservoir Boat Launch”. The dirt road is rough but you don’t need four wheel drive or a high clearance vehicle and occasionally they grade it smooth.

There is an iron ranger for the $5 day use fee for parking in the camp ground on the west end of the lake which has a boat launch ramp and bathroom. I’m not sure if the additional launch fee applies to non-motorized craft. There is limited parking in the camp ground but enough that we didn’t have to haul our crafts very far on the warm Saturday we were there.

The wind usually picks up after noon and usually blows from the west end of the lake giving you a significant head wind on the return trip to the boat launch. The paddle boarders had to work a lot harder and it caused some modest waves that caused some to stay closer to the shore. A paddling book advised crossing to the south shore for shelter from the wind. I tried that for a while but did not notice a difference. My track includes an exploratory walk from a nice beach at the east end of the lake to road 19 going past the lake. The road is wide enough for parking. The trail is a little steep at the road and then easy after that. I think it would be a good way to have a tailwind on the return trip for easy to carry craft but I have not tried that yet.


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