Northern California is home to amazing lakes in all of its far reaches. From the alpine lakes of the Sierra and Cascades to the deep reservoirs of Shasta and Oroville, there’s no shortage of crystal-clear water that’s perfect for swimming and boating. Here’s a list of some of the best lakes in Northern California for boating, swimming, fishing, and more, in no particular order.

Did we nail it on the head with this list of awesome lakes in Northern California? Are there any other places that you would add to the list?

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Lakes in Northern California

Can I hike to any backcountry lakes in Northern California?

If you are planning a backcountry multi-day hike, including a stunning mountain lake should be at the top of your list of must-haves. The Lake Aloha Trail will make all your hiking dreams come true when it takes you to five backcountry lakes! This 12-mile out-and-back trail connects some of the most beautiful lakes in Northern California:

  • Echo Lake
  • Tamarack Lake
  • Ralston Lake
  • Lake Aloha

Reaching these lakes takes a little effort, but your reward will be the cool water and serenity of these mountain gems.

Where is the best place to go kayaking in Northern California?


Lodi Lake is one of the best Northern California lakes for kayaking. This peaceful lake is surrounded by beautiful scenery. You can paddle out on your own or take a guided kayak tour of the lake. Try a full moon paddle tour, a sunrise paddle, or a sunset paddle for something different. Lodi Lake is also a popular spot to swim and picnic, so come prepared to spend the day!

Are there any Northern California lakes where I can camp?


The only thing more fun than visiting one of the best lakes in Northern California is camping on its shores. In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you'll find Collins Lake. Nestled on the shores of this beautiful lake is an excellent campsite offering tent and RV sites. Collins Lake Campground offers all the amenities to make you comfortable. You'll enjoy full hookups, hot showers, a boat ramp, and a general store. Bring along your fishing pole because the fish are always biting at Collins Lake!

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