Photo of Trinity Lake, California

Trinity Lake

Trinity Lake is the third largest reservoir in California.* Fed by several forks of the Trinity River, Trinity Lake appears from above like an exotic, long-tailed bird in flight with feathers all askew.

The lake's narrow channels spread between the thickly forested shoulders of the Trinity Mountains, providing one of the most picturesque settings of all of California's reservoirs. The 145-mile shoreline is marked by dozens of secret coves which make great retreats for fishing or for anchoring a houseboat.

*measured by storage capacity

Current Water Level at Trinity Lake

Boating Trinity Lake

Trinity Lake attracts all kinds of boaters from fishermen to waterskiers, from houseboaters to pleasure cruisers. Miles of waterways give boaters plenty of room to spread out and avoid congestion. The sheltered inlets and channels are protected from heavy winds, and the glassy surface of the lake makes it perfect for waterskiing and wake boarding. Spring driftwood creates a hazard, and summer draw-downs can lower lake level considerably by the end of the season.


Trinity Lake has three marinas, two of them operated by Forever Resorts. The Esterllita Marina closed a number of years ago. Although the current facilities are very good, they lack the breadth of services offered at other lakes such as Almanor and Shasta.


Fishing for trout, bass and kokanee salmon is excellent at Trinity Lake. The lake supports a strong population of rainbow and brown trout. Rainbows can range up to 10 pounds and the browns up to 20. For bass fishermen, the lake is best known for its smallmouth bass. The California record smallmouth bass was caught in Trinity Lake in 1976. The lake is also home to largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, King salmon, and catfish.


More than a dozen Forest Service campgrounds dot the shores of Trinity Lake along with several private campgrounds. Shoreline camping (Dispersed Camping) is permitted along much of the lake, except in posted areas such as bald eagle habitats. Several Forest Service Boat-In Campgrounds are located around the lake.


Only limited lodging choices are found right at Trinity Lake. Most are cabins, often rustic in nature, but comfortable for family vacations or fishing trips. Moving away from the lake creates broader choices, but similar accommodations. There are no high-end resorts at Trinity Lake. Renting a private cabin is a great choice here.


With the Trinity Alps rising as a backdrop and bald eagles dipping into the lake, Trinity Lake ranks as one of the most scenic of all of California's reservoirs.

Nearby Communities

At the north end of the lake is Trinity Center where there is a store, gas station, grill, post office, and an airport. North of the lake is Coffee Creek Village, which has a cafe, a country store and deli, laundromat, and video rentals.

The largest nearby city is Redding, about 45 miles to the southeast. Closer to Trinity Lake, just a few miles to the south, are the communities of Weaverville and Lewiston. Weaverville is the country seat and has a population of about 3,500.


Trinity Lake Facts
Lake Size: 17,280 surface acres
Maximum Depth: 416 feet
Length: 19 miles
Shoreline: 145 miles
Dam Construction: 1957-1961
Reservoir Owner:
Original Lake Name: Clair Engle
Maximum Lake Elevation: 2,370 feet
Average High Air Temperatures
  spring: 65 degrees
  summer: 90 degrees
  fall: 75 degrees
  winter: 47 degrees
Summer Surface Water Temperature: 78 degrees


Trinity Lake

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Recreation around Trinity Lake

  • Hiking:   Trinity Lake is at the edge of the Trinity Wilderness with miles of hiking and riding trails and excellent backpacking and camping.
  • Rafting:   The Trinity River is a popular rafting destination.
  • Gold Panning:   Try the local creeks.
  • Joss House State Historic Park:   Located in Weaverville, the Joss House The temple is the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California.
  • Birding:   Bald Eagles, Osprey, and many more.
  • Jake Jackson Memorial Museum:   Historic buildings, living history, blacksmith shop, stamp mill, and more; Weaverville.


California's Greatest Lakes

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