2010 my son-in-law Tim, grandson Mikie, and I took a trip to Lake
Almanor and Lassen National Park, during which they had a great time
and good luck going out with a fishing guide at the lake. When I
started discussing a summer trip with Mikie this year he said he
would like to return to Lake Almanor, and also stay the first night
at Caribou Crossroads, a small resort on the
River, where he and his dad caught and
released at least a dozen fish.
tried to get reservations at the same RV park at Almanor, but it was
full for the summer. Since they had recommended the guide last time,
I asked if they had his number. I was then able to schedule a trip
with Duncan McIntyre and get reservations at another RV park right across
on Monday, June 17, Mikie and I left my place in Clovis about 9 a.m.
and headed up Highway 99. A few miles north of Sacramento we took
State Highway 70, which goes through Marysville and
then heads east into
the mountains through the Feather River
It took a
while to get through Marysville, which has 24-hour road construction
all over town. The highway route detoured away from the normal
alignment, with many stoplights and flagmen and flagwomen controlling
traffic in several places. However, we made it through town and
continued on to Oroville, where the highway turns east into the
mountains. In this area, Oroville Dam on the Feather River creates
Lake Oroville, and we stopped at a turnout overlooking the lake to
fix lunch in the motor home.
Father River route
is very scenic, with views of the river both high up on the
canyon side and down close to the water, and many highway and
railroad bridges that date back to the 1930s. In one place there is
a dramatic pair
of bridges where the highway crosses the river from south to
north, while the railroad crosses the opposite way on a bridge that
is almost right above the highway bridge.
In 2010 we
were trying to
figure out where we could stop for the first night when we came upon the Caribou Crossroads Resort,
so this time we planned that for our first stop.
arrived about 4:30, and got registered, and Mikie immediately headed
river. The North Fork of the river comes in from the north
here, while the East Branch flows in from the east and parallels the
highway. The two streams are nearly equal in size, so the river's
size is doubled below the junction. There's a path from the RV park
down under a highway bridge to the point between the two streams,
and this proved to be as good a fishing spot as it was last time. Mikie caught and
released six, including one trout, one carp and four small mouth
bass. The trout came out of the swifter-flowing North Fork.
was fortunate that we did not plan to visit this area in 2012. The
huge CHIPS fire burned over 75,000 acres in the area in 34 days, and
much of the canyon was evacuated for most of August. There are
plenty of scars from the fire visible, including some just a few
hundred yards upstream and up the mountain from the resort.
we got up fairly early Monday, on Tuesday Mikie reverted to his
normal teenage summer schedule, sleeping past 11 a.m. After a quick
breakfast he did some more fishing, catching another four bass, then
we packed up and continued up Highway 70. After 20 miles or so, our
route took us north on State Highway 89, following Indian Creek. A
short distance on this road brought us to Indian Valley and the
town of Greenville, where the terrain opens out into a wide, level
valley after many miles of canyon travel. Turning east on State 147,
we soon had our first view of Lake Almanor, with snow-covered Mt.
Lassen beyond. From here we followed 147 and a series of local roads
to Peninsula Drive, which brought us to the Paul
registering and locating our campsite, we got set up, then walked
down the hill, across Peninsula Drive, and into Big
where we would meet the fishing guide the next day. We went into the
office/store to get some items, and asked the lady on duty if she
knew which dock Duncan McIntyre used. "He's got his boat at
Dock C - but look, that's him driving up right now."
came in the store and we said hello and made final plans to meet him
at 5:30. I explained that I am not a fisherman and it would be just
Mikie going out. This seemed to surprise him since he said he
thought there were three or four of us. Possibly this was because
when I first called him I had mentioned the three of us being there
rest of the day we hung around our campsite, reading, watching TV
and just loafing. Not long after we came inside for the evening, we
heard what sounded like rain, although the forecast showed 0%
chance. It did indeed rain for a short time. Later, as we were going
to bed, there was a single flash of lightning, a clap of thunder,
and more rain. It rained fairly steady for and hour or so, then off
and on till around 2 a.m.
we got up at 5 in the morning the clouds were breaking up, and it
was 42 degrees, just as predicted. I fixed Mikie a sandwich and
walked down to the dock with him where we found Duncan getting the
boat ready. In less than five minutes they were headed across the
lake, so I took a short walk around the main roads, then returned to
the motor home for more sleep.
getting up for the second time I took a shower, then sat outside and
read while I enjoyed a bloody Mary. About 10:30 I was ready for
breakfast. I had buttered my toast and was just ready to pour milk
on my cereal when Mikie called to say they were back, so I went down
to take photos of the fish and pay the guide.
caught four salmon and a brown trout. The smallest was about 12
inches, while the biggest salmon and the trout were about 18 inches.
The guide service included filleting the fish, so we were soon on
our way back to the motor home with a heavy bag of fish, which spent
the rest of the trip sleeping in the freezer.
We spent the
afternoon enjoying my retirement and Mikie's summer vacation by
reading, loafing and watching TV. We had planned to eat out for our
main meal, but the resort offers only a "fast food" style
burger stand. In 2010 we had eaten at a restaurant a few hundred
feet away, but I wanted to try something different. When we first
drove in, I had
noticed the Red Onion Grill
a little over a half mile away, so we decided that the walk would
build up our appetite, and the return walk would settle our dinner.
to be a typical country cafe, with a decent menu, although not
everything was available. My first choice, a three-sausage plate, is
no longer served although it remains on the menu. They were out of
my second choice, so I joined Mikie in ordering a burger, which
proved to be a good call - it was equal to or better than the best
burgers found at places like Red Robin or Denny's.
reason, by the time we made our return walk, they had made the road
longer and steeper, but I survived, stopping to rest at the outdoor
tables in front of the Paul Bunyan cafe. Mikie, with the endless
energy of youth, found a basketball next to a net and shot baskets
for awhile before we continued up the hill to the motor home for our
evening TV viewing.
I often try
to introduce my kids and grandkids to movies or TV shows they are
not familiar with, and my choice for this trip was Titus.
Mikie found it hilarious, and we watched all of season 1, a total of
nine episodes. (More about the show here
we were finishing up business with Duncan, Mikie asked him about fishing
from the shore of the lake, and he suggested stopping at Hamilton
Branch, which runs into the lake from the north. County road
A-13 crosses the stream just before dead ending at Highway 147.
There is a large parking area with restrooms, and a short, steep
trail down to the
water. Mikie fished here for about an hour and a
half, but got only one or two bites. I accomplished much more,
reading several chapters of my current book, Ken Follett's
had considered various routes back home, with two days to do stuff
and travel. Since we got a lazy, late start on Thursday, we decided
to head back down the Feather River from the Hamilton Branch stop,
and spend our final night back at Caribou Crossroads again. During the
drive down the canyon I made a few stops to take pictures. There were
several places where the road was several hundred feet above the
river, with a steep drop-off just past the edge of the pavement.
Unfortunately, there were no good places to stop and take pictures
in these areas. Another missed opportunity, again with no place to
pull off, was a limestone formation by Indian Creek that had
stalactites hanging down from an overhanging cliff.
arrived back at Caribou Crossroads fairly early, about 2:30 in the
afternoon. There is a road that goes up the river canyon away from
the highway, to the village of Caribou and a small lake. There are
several campgrounds along the way, the first one just a quarter mile
above the RV resort. Mikie and I walked up the road and checked out
the campground, then he went back down to his favorite fishing spot
while I explored the area and took some photos.
fishing was not as good this time, as Mikie caught only two small
bass, both of which went back into the water to grow some more. We
then finished up the day in the usual way, with dinner, reading, and
next day we got our normal mid-morning start, and pointed the motor
home west for the 50 mile drive back to the valley. I wanted to
avoid Marysville with all the construction, so we took Highway 162
west from State 70 to State 99, passing through the towns of
Gridley, Live Oak, and Yuba City, then into Sacramento. The last few
miles, Highway 99 is contiguous with Interstate 5.
traffic was so heavy in Sacramento that I could not get over for the
Highway 99 ramp off of I-5, but it's just a short drive across State
4 from I-5 to 99 in Stockton. We made our final stop at an In
& Out Burger on March Road in Stockton, where you get great
service no matter how busy they are (and they were VERY busy).
rest of our trip was uneventful except for a stressful ten miles
from Stockton to Manteca, where there is major road work, and there
are narrow lanes bounded by concrete barriers that always look like
they will scrape the motor home. We got to Mikie's house about 5
p.m., delivered him and the fish, then I went on home, unloaded the
vehicle, and began to ease back into my normal lazy life.
Estel, June 2013
map of Plumas County shows the area where we were in good
detail, and can be significantly enlarged by pressing Shift and the
Plus key, or CTRL and the Plus key, depending on which browser you
use. Our RV and fishing dock are located where the town marker
indicates "Lake Almanor Peninsula."