The first time I caught a glimpse of Bucks Lake it literally took my breath away. It is one of the most pristine lakes in Northern California and remains a favorite place of respite for me and my family. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Plumas County just 16 miles from Quincy, the county’s seat, at an elevation of 5000′ it is a year round outdoor wonderland.
The history behind this spell binding area is a many layered story. Once a lush valley surrounded by thick forest, it was a summer home and hunting ground to the Maidu Indians. You can still find arrowheads and grinding stones when the water level is down and you can still see the holes made by those grinding stones in the granite boulders along the shore.
The second layer of the story comes with the California Gold Rush. In 1850 Gold was discovered at Rich Bar on the Feather River about 15 miles over steep and rugged ridges from Bucks Lake, bringing men and women by the thousands to the area in search of their fortunes. Three men took up a land claim in the valley. One of the men was named Horace Bucklin, the namesake of what was then called Buck’s Valley. In 1851 several people began building in the valley and sold goods and provided lodging to passing gold miners. The land was bought and sold several times during the next half century. A cattle ranch served as lodging for travelers during this time. In 1861 a post office was established, augmenting the store, hotel, stage station and cattle operation.
The road from Quincy, CA. to Bucks Lake began as a pack trail across the steep ridges from Quincy, through Spanish Ranch and Meadow Valley. In 1851 African-American Mountain Man, James P. Beckwourth’s Emigrant Tail reinforced the pack trail to serve as a byway to Bucks Lake and further to Marysville. You can still follow this trail today and is a fascinating story all on its own.
The ranch became a vacation destination during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Coming in horse-drawn buggies and stage coaches during the summer and snowshoed horses and dog sleds during the winter, men and women alike would come to the valley to camp, hunt and fish. With the advent of the automobile, the roads were improved and Bucks Valley became quite the vacation spot.
In 1925 the land was sold once again and a whole other layer to the story began. The new owners formed the Feather River Power Company and set out to build a dam and fill the lake, buildings and all, to create a reservoir that, to this day, provides much of California with hydroelectric power. In an amazing three short years Bucks Lake connected with Bucks Creek Powerhouse in the Feather River Canyon. When you realise the lack of modern equipment at the time and the rugged terrain you realize just how amazing this feat was.
The resorts and vacation properties that sprung up along the shores of the lake have had a rich and sometimes “colorful” history of their own, but two of the lodges are still in business and are destinations that many people look forward to visiting every year. Bucks Lakeshore Vacation Resort is one of these resorts and has been newly remodeled and offers year round lodging, meals and general store. Bucks Lake Marina, owned by the same local family, offers boat and cabin rentals. Outdoor activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, boating, water skiing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, and hiking and biking trails including part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
For more information about the lush history of Bucks Lake and surrounding area contact the Plumas County Museum in Quincy, CA. for your copy of “Saga of a Mountain Meadow” by Scott Lawson.
Better yet, come visit and see for yourself the extraordinary beauty of Bucks Lake. Contact Bucks Lakeshore Vacation Resort at 530 283-2848 or go to www.buckslakeshoreresort.com.