Paddle 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
south shore. A designated swimming beach is located
on the north shore by the Giant Gap and Shirttail
Photo Credit Cheryl Wood
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
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
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 Fish 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.
Credit Lynn Halstead Pas
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.
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.
Fees: There is a fee to camp, but there isn’t any
fee to launch or for day use.
Reservoir Facilities: All watercraft is
permitted, but there is a 10 m.p.h. boat speed
limit, which prevents you from waterskiing. A paved
boat launch is on the south shore. Other facilities
include swimming, fishing, windsurfing, hiking and
bicycling trails. Pets are permitted on a leash.
Directions: From the city of Auburn off of
Interstate 80, head north for two miles. Exit on
Foresthill Road traveling east for
seventeen-and-a-half miles to the town of
Foresthill. From the Foresthill Ranger Station,
drive ten miles and turn left on Hollow Log Road.
Then turn left on Sugar Pine Road (#10) and drive
three-point-eight miles to reach the launch and
campgrounds. NOTE: Do not take Finning Mill Road off
of Foresthill Road. It is a rough, dirt road.