Gold Lake - Paddling

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Paddle this Sierra lake with lots of fun coves explore and sights to take in.

Written by

Jill Sanford


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

52.1 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

This flatwater paddle can be more challenging on choppy days or if there is a lot of traffic on the lake.

Time To Complete

0 hours


Spring, Summer, and Fall

Busy weekends during summer months will be more crowded, try to visit on a weekday if possible.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




360° views of this crystal clear alpine lake are one of a kind and definitely worth the drive out from the better known lakes in closer to Tahoe and Truckee. Gold Lake is surrounded by a conifer forest and the granite hillsides that are the Sierra Nevada’s claim to fame.  

What Makes It Great

The most popular body of water in the Lakes Basin area, Gold Lake is a favorite for stand up paddleboarders and kayakers. It is nestled in the Sierra Nevada at just above 6,000 feet, which is the perfect elevation in this area to soak up some summer warmth and still escape the intense heat of the central valley. 

Located in the Plumas National Forest, this lake is often glassy and smooth and offers panoramic views of forested hills. It is also well known for its numerous small coves and beaches that make for fun exploring for paddlers of all skill levels. 

The water is calmest in the morning and evening, so the best time to get in a quick paddle is dawn or dusk. If you are a paddler more interested in a fun aquatic experience rather than a workout, then the middle of the day is still a great time to get out and splash around in the sun. 

Who is Going to Love It

Beginner and recreational paddlers will love this lake, but it is definitely worth the visit for more the  advanced as well. Power boats are allowed on this lake, but they are usually easy enough to avoid in one of the many coves. The lake and surrounding campsites can get crowded during peak season, so if that is a deterrent try to visit on a weekday. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Head east on Highway 49 towards Bassetts. Turn left onto Gold Lake Highway and follow this road for about 7 miles. Turn left on Gold Lake Road and look for the Gold Lake Campground, which offers free day use and camping for $10 a night. There is no potable water so be sure to bring enough with you for the duration of your stay. 

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Gold Lake, CA

39.682477, -120.648109

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