Lake Oroville State Recreation Area

Loafer Creek, Roy Rogers Trails
2 mile loop or 4.75 mile loop

Feather River-fed Lake Oroville offers lots to do, both on and off the water. Boating, water-skiing, fishing and swimming are popular forms of recreation on the big lake, while camping, picnicking, hiking and horseback riding are among the enjoyable pursuits along Oroville’s lengthy, 167 mile shoreline.

The lake, located about 75 miles north of Sacramento, was created by higher-than-Hoover Oroville Dam in 1967. While it annually provides many thousands of Californians with a place to play, its main purpose is to hold water for distribution to the San Joaquin Valley, San Francisco and the Southland.

To learn about the lake and surrounding environs, check out the displays and observation tower at the visitor center. Here you’ll find positively worshipful exhibits about western water-seekers, California’s gigantic water system, and the role of water in our present-day civilization. My favorite exhibit is the one comparing the relative height of Oroville Dam in relation to the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.

The state recreation area has a couple of short hiking trails that can be linked to provide a 2 mile jaunt, a more ambitious 4.75 mile loop, or something in between. An ambitious trail-building program over the past two decades has increased the park’s network from nine to more than 50 miles of trail. Check out the new Potter Ravine Trail, which leads from Lake Oroville Dam along the west shore of the lake. the 14.5 mile-long Danbebee Trail extends from the town of Oroville to Loafer Creek.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 70 (Business), otherwise known as Oroville Dam Boulevard, in Oroville, head east to Highway 162 (Olive Highway) and continue five miles to Kelly Ridge Road. Turn left and drive a half mile. Just after the turnoff to the water treatment plant, turn right on the dirt road leading to a parking area.

The hike: Head back toward the water treatment plant and small dam. Ignore the signed trail beckoning you to hike to the visitor information center and walk across the dam to the signed trailhead on the other side.

Take the “Brooks Orchard” leg of the loop trail and begin a modest climb through a woodland of oak and digger pine. After a mile, the trail forks. A left means you loop back another mile to the trailhead.

The right fork crosses the Loafer Creek Campground Road, then gently travels a mile to Brooks Orchard, a popular resting and watering place for the many horses and riders on Oroville’s trails. A quarter mile past this rest stop, you’ll cross a creek, then meander down toward the lakeshore. You’ll skirt Loafer Creek Campground, then ascend oak- and ponderosa pine-covered slopes.

When you meet up with Loafer Creek Loop Trail, you’ll swing right, hiking over grass slopes on a mellow descent back to the trailhead.

From Lake Oroville’s visitor information center, you can join Chaparral Trail (an interpretive nature trail), then follow Kelly Ridge Trail to a lookout point above the lake; this lots-to-see loop is 2.75 miles.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.