Sugar Pine Reservoir     

ayaking sugar pine reservoir
Photo Credit Cheryl WOod

Sugar Pine Reservoir Kayak, Canoe, SUP & Kayak Fishing Information


Area Map # 167 Miles of Shoreline: 3.5 Reservoir Surface Acres: 16 Elevation: 3620’ Address: Sugar Pine Road Foresthill, CA 95631    Ph:530 367-2224

kayaking sugar pine reservoirPaddle Notes: Often the crow of a soaring bird is the only disruption at this peaceful reservoir. Sugar Pine Reservoir is surrounded by a dense mixed conifer forest, which meanders down to the water’s edge. The three-and-a-half miles of shoreline provide an easy and delightful paddle. The boat traffic during the summer is minimal. The reservoir is primarily used for fishing, windsurfing and paddling. A hand launch access is located on the south shore. A designated swimming beach is located on the north shore by the Giant Gap and Shirttail campgrounds.

The reservoir’s 10 m.p.h. boat speed limit deters the number of powerboat enthusiasts, though it is a popular summer destination for camping. Book your reservations in advance if you plan on camping here, especially on a holiday weekend.

The reservoir has four recreation areas around the reservoir. In addition to a soul-stirring paddling experience, there are numerous hiking and bicycling trails to explore in the area, but be on the lookout for bears. On my first trip to Sugar Pine Reservoir, I mistakenly took Finning Mill Road (off of Foresthill Road), and I almost collided with a bear sitting in the center of the road as I drove around a blind bend. I don’t know who was more startled, me or the bear. That experience certainly put to rest any idea’s I had about being able to out run a bear. I couldn’t believe how fast it moved! I would highly recommend using the Sugar Pine access road which is about ten miles past the Foresthill Ranger Station.

Kayak Fishing: 7,500 catchable rainbows, and 20,000 fingerlings are planted annually at Sugar Pine Reservoir, plus there’s also small and largemouth bass. German browns are occasionally taken here, but the Department of Fishkayaking sugar pine reservoir and Game hasn't stocked the reservoir with catchable browns since the 1990's. The fishing season begins early in April continuing into early summer, but there’s still pretty good trout action in the fall. Sugar Pine Reservoir is primarily a paddling and kayak fishing destination, due to the 10 m.p.h, boat speed, which deters fast-moving enthusiasts from intruding upon your kayak fishing experience.

Although most of the the reservoir's fish taken here are planters, the reservoir has a good holdover rate for trout during the summer. There is some natural trout spawning in the tributary creeks, but it is not enough to sustain the fishery.

Wind & Weather Conditions: During the winter and spring it is windy in the afternoons. The summer daytime high are temperatures linger in the 80s and 90s. During the spring and fall, it is a comfortable 65 to 75 degrees. The reservoir’s access roads are closed in the winter due to snow. Sugar Pine Reservoirs warm waters and nice beaches make this popular destination in the summer months.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
High 56 58 60 66 74 83 90 89 85 75 61 55
Low 35 37 38 42 48 55 61 59 55 47 39 34

Terrain: Sugar Pine Dam is located at 3500' elevation on North Shirttail Canyon, a tributary of the North Fork of the American River. Rolling pine  forest with open areas contribute to the pleasant setting of this small reservoir. The reservoir is surrounded by sugar pines and other conifers. A shady picnic area is located on the north shore. There's a paved, shoreline trail suitable for wheelchairs about a mile long. The trail continues on gentle, rolling grade for another 2.5 miles around lake to south shore. Reservoir capacity is 6,921 acre feet with a surface area of 165 acres. 

Open: The reservoir is closed from late October to May due to heavy snowfall. The boat speed limit is 10 m.p.h.


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