Boat-in Kayaking at Lake Clementine
Whether your pleasure is paddling a kayak or canoe, boat-in camping, or trolling for fish, Lake Clementine has it all. You can paddle through timbered slopes, rolling tree covered hills, and grass covered meadows. This picturesque lake lies in a narrow canyon within the North Fork of the American River in the heart of the Auburn State Recreation Area, a few miles upriver of Auburn, California. Auburn State Recreation Area encompasses almost 42,000 acres, including 50 miles of river on the North and Middle forks of the American River, in the American River Canyon.
After a pleasant paddle, there are miles of hiking and mountain biking trails around the lake to explore. Trails range from easy to challenging, with steep hills and terrain providing vistas that overlook Lake Clementine’s astonishing spillway. Or you can paddle to one of the cozy sand beaches that await you, offering the perfect spot to grab a bite in the shade before setting up camp.
A highlight of this beautiful lake is the free flowing dam that cascades into a huge waterfall near the marina and boat launch in the lower area. As the river drops down the 155-foot face of the concrete dam, the view of the man-made falls is especially photogenic in the springtime. The spectacular sight is well worth the drive. Another highlight of the lake is that it allows boating twenty-four hours a day.
Lake Clementine is a popular mountain biking destination, so watch out for bicyclists who share the extremely steep, winding, narrow lake access road (or large vehicles pulling boat trailers.) There is also an abundance of mountain bikes on the hiking trails, so look over your shoulder often.
One of nature lovers' favorite activities is camping. Lake Clementine offers one of the most unique boat-in camping opportunities available in California. The 15 primitive boat-in-only campsites are available to reserve through the statewide reservation system. The campground is usually open daily from May 15th through November 1st, weather permitting.
The boat speed limit is 40 m.p.h. during the day and 5 m.p.h. at night and in restricted areas. Dogs are not allowed on boats, along the lake or in the campground at Lake Clementine.
Kayak anglers love to make memories here, but many anglers get onto the water just to enjoy the beautiful scenery, relax, and explore the hidden coves and expanse of Lake Clementine’s shoreline. In the summertime, the best fishing action is at the upper end of the lake where there are motorboat restrictions. In the off-season, you can fish along the entire shoreline.
If you're looking for some high-powered adrenaline fun, take a ride behind a power boat on some water skis. And when you're looking to cool off, dive into the water and take a swim, as you watch wispy clouds float across a deep blue sky. With summer temperatures in the 80s and low 90s, the cool, refreshing waters will tempt you at every opportunity. Watching the sun set while on the water is also an unforgettable memory that every kayaker loves to savor.
Lake Clementine offers outdoor activities and active fun for everyone. If you're kayaking, fishing or biking through mountains to catch a spectacular view of the lake below, you'll know that you've found a truly beautiful and tranquil paddling getaway. Whether you visit for a day, a leisurely long weekend, or an extended stay, Lake Clementine will provide you with ample opportunities to enjoy the water, beautiful scenery and a unique boat-in camping experience.
There’s a small marina where fuel and ice are sold. The parking area is limited to 25 trailers, 15 of which are reserved for campsites. There have been improvements to the restroom and parking area in recent years, but the winding lake access road is still in need of repair. The access road to the lower area is very steep and narrow. Trailers over 24' are not advised. Due to the narrowness of the canyon, towed inflatables are not allowed on the lake.
Fishing on Lake Clementine is a treat for even the most experience kayak angler. Pulling in a trophy-sized trout at Lake Clementine is an experience that has anglers making reservations months in advance to fish here. The cool, clean waters are home to brown trout, large and small mouth bass, carp, and catfish. Lake Clementine is not stocked with fish, but kayak anglers can still enjoy fishing for smallmouth bass in the spring throughout the summer.