Plumas County is known as NorCal’s recreational County! The story of the County lies in the historic towns. The mountain passes, valleys, and lakes add scenic beauty. The County is known for picnic stops, outdoor events, cycling, camping, and hiking. Fairs, festivals, and concerts attract visitors, as do golf and longboard races.
Plumas County’s early beginnings are gold mining, timber, and the railways. The search for a mythical lake of gold drew thousands of prospectors. The County, generations later, attracts visitors to historic towns, the Sierra Nevada highlands, lakes, golf courses, and longboard championships.
What Is Plumas County Known For?
Plumas County is remarkably varied in landscape and the activities that occupy and bring people here. Hikers, bikers, and RV enthusiasts come to stay in the country and historic towns! Tourists play on world-class golf courses. And longboard skiers compete for world championships.
- Plumas National Forest
- American Valley Speedway
- Historic Towns
- Lake Almanor
- Fairgrounds And Festivals
- World Championship Longboard Races
- Frank Lloyd Wright Golf Club House
Whether on foot, on a bike, or driving through Plumas County, the scenic mountains, forests, and lakes are an allure. The stories of Plumas County’s early pioneers are in museums in towns and places in the landscape. Recently, the Maidu Indians’ past was made visible in a building on a golfing estate!
Plumas National Forest
Plumas County in the Sierra Nevada is scenic, and a regular sight is cyclists and joggers. Many visitors take scenic drives along routes that lead to the Plumas National Forests. The forests, especially at Little Grass Valley, offer a range of activities – scenic walks and hikes, boating, and swimming. There are many stops for RVs.
The forest is large, with many mountaintop forest lookouts. There are spaces for solitude and looking at wildflowers and small wildlife.
American Valley Speedway Race And The Plumas County Picnic
Since the late 50s, the Plumas County Picnic was a date on the annual calendar. There even was a free beef lunch! Today the County Picnic is the County’s largest American Valley Speedway race. The Sierra Cascade Street Rodders, a yearly car show or show-off, should not be missed.
There’s also a 3-mile ‘Color Me Green’ fun run. The emphasis is healthy living, and runners are showered in green dye at several markers!
The early towns tell the County’s story. Founded in 1854, the County is in the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada mountains run 400 miles north-south, are part of the American Cordillera, and are often called the western ‘backbone’ of the Americas! Plumas county – today with a population of 19,790 – has had Quincy as the county seat since the 1850s.
Over time, different industries in Plumas County also created various settlements. The historic Quincy is an original mining town. Greenville in the Indian Valley in the late 1850s was a mining and farming community. Chester, near Lake Almanor, had cattle ranches and timber industries to support the Gold Rush. The Western Pacific Railroad in 1910 influenced Portola’s character.
Before the towns, the indigenous Mountain Maidu lived in the Sierra valleys. The growth of settler communities expanded when settler Thomas Stoddard said there was a lake in Sierra filled with gold nuggets!
Today, Portola’s Western Pacific Railroad Museum (one of the largest railroad museums in North America), Chester’s Collins Pine Museum, and the Plumas County Museum in Quincy have the story of the Maidu, California’s Gold Rush, and logging.
Lake Almanor was initially called Big Meadows, where the Northern Maidu tribe lived. A Hydro-Electric power plant was started at the Lake in the 1890s, and that is when the 180-foot tall Big Meadows Dam was built. The dam was completed in 1914, and the reservoir (Big Meadows) was called Lake Almanor.
The history of the Lake’s name and nearby Almanor intertwine. Today a ghost town with zero population, the town is named after an early settler, Guy C. Earl’s three daughters: ‘Alice,’ ‘Martha,’ and ‘Elinor.’ And so is the Lake.
Fairgrounds And Festivals
The Sierra County Fairgrounds at Quincy brings locals and visitors together all year round! There are music events, art shows, and family entertainment. Even a fair to commemorate the original fair’s start in 1859!
Quincy is also known for the High Sierra Music Festival, which has run for three decades and is a highlight on County Plumas’ calendar.
World Championship Longboard Races
Each year the World Championship Longboard Races are held at the Plumas Eureka Ski Bowl in the cold months of January, February and March. Longboard skiers race up to eighty miles per hour down slopes!
Downhill ski racing started in the 1860s in Onion Valley, between Quincy and La Porte.
Today slogans like ‘Sierra Lightning’ and ‘Dope is King’ is still heard at the Plumas Eureka Ski Bowl at Johnsville.
Frank Lloyd Wright Lodge
The tee-pee-inspired lodge designed for Nakomo almost a century ago has an intriguing story. World-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the building in 1923 for a country club in Madison, Wisconsin. The blueprint was stored in a filing cabinet and only built-in 2001! Today it stands at the Dragon Golf Club near Plumas County’s Quincy.
The building has decorative Indian motifs on friezes and two Native American statues in front of it, Nakoma (the mother of Hiawatha) and Nakomis (the male counterpart).
The site is the Dragon Golf Course at Gold Mountain, and the course is one of those that every golfer just has to play!
What’s In Plumas County?
Historic towns, through buildings and museums, tell the stories of early pioneers. The countryside is known for outdoor activities and recreation.
The Feather River area is ideal for mountain biking and camping, with at least 300 campsites at Little Grass Valley. The Lakeshore Trail is 13 miles and can be done on horseback, on a mountain bike, or hiked.
Nearby Lake Davis, close to Portola, was built for recreation in 1967. You can camp, picnic, fish, boat, and swim. In winter, there’s ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
Mount Ararat, one of Plumas County’s most scenic spots, is rich in archaeological inheritance. The outcrop was formed in the Paleozoic Era, a period known for metavolcanic eruption. Here you can hike, bike and bird-watching.
Feather River Campgrounds
Camping along the Feather River is popular for locals, families, and travelers. The Little Grass Valley Recreation area has camping sites and hiking trails. There is RV camping too. In winter, the area changes, and then skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are popular.
The routes of early prospectors, like the one along the Beckwourth Pass, draw many visitors. The Beckwourth Trail was used between 1851 and 1854 – a motorized way that became unpopular when it became a toll road.
The city is a tourist destination with museums. The Plumas County Museum has a collection that dates back to before 1850 and includes the lives of the early inhabitants. Much of Plumas County’s history is also county seat Quincy’s mining start.
Things To Do In Plumas County
The best way to get to know Plumas County is on a self-guided tour. The most scenic routes are the Ancient Trail of the Mountain Maidu Indians, the historic Beckwourth Trail Route, and The Feather River National Scenic Byway.
For outdoor adventure, go to the Plumas National Forest, the Lake Basin, or follow the back road through the County.
● Lake Basin
● Longboarding On Winter Slopes
● Butterfly Valley Botanical Area
● Wilson Lake Caves
● Mount Lassen And Lake Almanor
The Lake Basin, near Graeagle, attracts visitors through its’ geological landscape. There are more than 20 small lakes close by and many hiking trails. The Basin is well-known as camping, fishing, and boating recreational spot. The Lakes Basin is suitable for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter months.
Longboarding On Winter Slopes
Plumas County is known for its heavy snowfalls, and the hills are perfect for skiing! The historic Longboard Revival Series World Championships are held at the Eureka Bowl annually. In summer, the Eureka Bowl is a magical hiking spot.
Butterfly Valley Botanical Area
The Butterfly Valley Botanical Area was formed as a protected botanical area in 1976. The botanical area is the natural habitat of the Piperia species of native orchids. Here you can see rare plants like the carnivorous Darlingtonia californica. When mining operations were happening in the early 1850s, most of Butterfly Valley was under threat.
Wilson Lake Caves
The Wilson Lake Caves have several ice caves that are a natural landmark. The caves were created by lava that goes hundreds of feet into the earth. Though extremely cold, the best time to see these are in winter. But most of the ice caves last till early summer.
Mount Lassen And Lake Almanor
Mount Lassen Volcanic Park became a national park in 1916, two years after an eruption of Lassen Peak in 1914. This made Mt Lassen the U.S.’s first active volcano site. A year later, there was a second mushroom-shaped volcanic eruption. Subsequently, in the 1930s, the land was sold off beside Lake Almanor and developed.
Today both Mt Lassen Volcano and Lake Almanor, one of California’s largest lakes, attract visitors. A visitor center was recently added to the park, the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. The name means ‘snowy mountain’ in the language of the earliest inhabitants here, Mountain Maidu.
Famous People From Plumas County
The wall of fame in Plumas County includes the first woman to be appointed the U.S. assistant state attorney, a woman 18x Grand Slam winner, and an actress known as the ‘nation’s darling’!
Annette Abbott Adams
The first woman Assistant Attorney General in the United States, lawyer and judge Annette Abbott Adams was born in Prattville in 1877. Today Prattville has a population of 33.
America’s 18 times Grand Slam winner Alice Marble was born in Beckwourth in 1913. She was 26 years old when she ranked No 1 in the world of Tennis in 1939!
Born Charlotte Mignon Crabtree, Lotta grew up in Grass Valley, where her parents ran a boarding house. She befriended the famous dancer and actress Lola Montez who encouraged her enthusiasm for performing. She was nicknamed ‘The Nation’s Darling,’ and her life story was filmed as Golden Girl (1951) and starred Mitzi Gaynor.
Plumas County FAQ
Interesting Facts About Plumas County?
Did you know that The Plumas National Forest covers an area that’s 1,146,000 acres? Also, President Theodore Roosevelt established the forest in 1905 to protect the scenic mountain lands.
Is Plumas County A Good Place To Live?
In general, the mountains, lakes, and outdoor-centered lifestyles are a bonus, and so too does the small-style community living give being in Plumas County a definite plus.
Is It Expensive In Plumas County?
Plumas County rates at 106.4 on the cost-of-living index. This means that Plumas County rates above the 100 averages. That’s the dividing line between being expensive and cheap.
- Outdoors hiking, camping, picnicking:
- Events in Plumas County:
- Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s clubhouse:
- Information on Wilson Lake Caves:
- History of Lake Almanor:
- History of Mt Lassen National Park: