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Locations: Frenchman Lake

Scenic view of Frenchman Lake with flowers in the foreground couple kayaking on crystal clear water elderly gentleman showing off his fish. man unhooking his boat from the trailer at a boat launch

Frenchman Lake is located on Little Last Chance Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork Feather River, about 37 miles northwest of Reno and 26 miles northeast of Portola. The lake is part of the Upper Feather River Project within the Plumas National Forest, and was constructed to provide recreation opportunities, to maintain the natural beauty of the area, and to enhance fish habitat in the creek. Frenchman Lake also supplies irrigation water for Sierra Valley.

Directions: Go north for 8.3 miles on Highway 284 from Highway 70 at Chilcoot.

Activities: camping, fishing, picnicking, swimming, water skiing, boating, hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

More Information: Frenchman Lake Recreation Area is operated by a private concessionaire and administered by the U.S. Forest Service; Plumas National Forest; Beckwourth Ranger District; P.O. Box 7; Blairsden, CA 96103, (530) 836-2575.


Frenchman Lake typifies the beauty of the Plumas County region with its forested lands. Rainbow trout, including Eagle Lake strain, are stocked in Frenchman Lake. Mule deer are the area's most common big game. Fishing and hunting are regulated by the California Department of Fish and Game.

Camping is permitted in Chilcoot, Cottonwood Springs, Frenchman, Spring Creek, and Big Cove Campgrounds, totaling 199 campsites with 5 walk-ins. All campgrounds have tables, stoves, water, and toilets, Some units can accommodate trailers up to 22 feet.

Two concrete boat ramp launching sites accommodate the variety of water sports enjoyed on the lake's more than 1,500-acre surface. Canoeing, water skiing and other forms of boating are popular warm weather sports. Snowmobiling and cross-country skiing dominate in the winter.

At Cottonwood and Chilcoot Campgrounds, the area -- including restrooms -- was modified to accommodate people with disabilities. Chilcoot has a new hardened pathway to the creekside with some accessible tentpads and tables. Big Cove Campground has several accessible campsites and a paved pathway to the lakeshore. Cottonwood has an accessible group campground.

The campgrounds, including two group campsites, are usually open from May through October. Also available are a trailer dump station, drinking water, sanitary facilities, and two concrete boat launching sites.