By Mara Dobyns Photos by Jessica Compton- JCM Photography

In this beautiful area of Northern California we are often spoiled with snow which means we have countless opportunities for fun in the outdoor world. In my opinion it would be pretty silly not to take advantage of it. Whether you enjoy snowshoeing, cross country or downhill skiing, sledding, or just exploring your local backcountry, we’ve got something for everyone. When I was a kid having my birthday in January always meant one thing, going to our favorite local hill for play, Stover, celebrating with snow and sledding until our hands were frozen through our gloves and then warming up with hot chocolate and cupcakes. I couldn’t have asked for more and I wouldn’t trade those cold, joyful memories for anything. It was about coming together despite the cold and having our hearts warmed with the excitement that is winter.

Now, as an adult, I am learning to down hill ski and it is that same mixed emotion of nerves, excitement, and adrenaline and I love it. My three year old daughter is learning to ski as well and it has been the coolest experience learning together. It proves that you’re never too old or too young to learn to love and enjoy the snow. If you’re deciding to further you relationship with winter make sure you know the basics. Always check current weather conditions before venturing off. If you venture out, make sure you have the proper gear, adequate clothing, food and water and make sure someone knows where you are headed or better yet bring someone along.

Here is a list of our favorite places to go if you’re looking to learn and explore more.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located 35 miles from Chester on Highway 36/89. The park has over 150 miles of marked and unmarked trails for non-motorized winter sports. In Lassen County, ranger-led snowshoe hikes and ski tours are held on Saturdays during the winter. Contact Lassen Park at (530) 595-4444 for details.

In the Chester-Lake Almanor Area, the Lassen National Forest leads various weekday snowshoe tours beginning in January. Call (530) 258-2141 for dates and information. Only a few minutes drive out of Chester an interpretive recreation trail is located on the west shore of local Lake Almanor. Skiers can enjoy miles of great scenery and easy access. Childs Meadow, eskimo hill, Warner Valley Road, McGowan Lake, and the Caribou Wilderness also offer quiet cross country skiing in the Chester area.

In Indian Valley, several unplowed roads and trails offer excellent routes for snowshoers and skiers. The Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce has great information. One favored route, we’re told, is the road leading out to Antelope Lake, which begins just past Genesee.

In Eastern Plumas County – beginner ski trails are maintained in Plumas-Eureka State Park, one of which takes off from the parking lot at the state museum. Also find trails at the Eureka Bowl downhill ski area, and a more advanced terrain suited for telemarking leads to Eureka Peak, according to the Forest Service website.

The Bucks Lake Area near Quincy, a popular winter sports staging area, boasts a marked loop trail as well as miles of groomed and un-groomed trails. Vehicles are not allowed on the Bucks Summit Loop Trail and within the Bucks Lake Wilderness Area. This includes the trail to Spanish Peak. Skiers and snowmobilers share the other trails. Also near Quincy, skiers and snowshoers enjoy Snake Lake and Argentine Ridge.

Willard Hill in Lassen County has been a local favorite for decades. Read more at mountainvalleyliving. com

Coppervale Ski Hill in Lassen County is a local ma and pa ski hill that will blow your mind. Read more at mountainvalleyliving.com

A real favorite for Nordic buffs is the historic Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, accessible from the town of Susanville.

Eskimo Hill in the Shasta area attracts valley visitors with easy access, read more at mountainvalleyliving.com

Mt Shasta is always a good time. Read more about it here: http://visitmtshasta.com

For maps and more details on the areas listed, visit a local ranger station or visit their website at www.fs.fed.us/ r5/lassen/recreation/skiing or www.fs.fed.us/r5/plumas/ recreation. Plumas National Forest (530) 283-2050, Lassen National Forest(530) 258-2141, Tahoe National Forest (530) 994-3401.

LOOKING FOR EQUIPMENT RENTALS?

Cross country ski equipment may be rented at the following locations:

CHESTER:

• Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mountain Sports, 152 Main St., (530) 258-2338 (Snowshoes available for rent also)

Childs Meadow Resort, (530) 595-3383

EASTERN PLUMAS

• Mountain Hardware, Bonta St., Blairsden, (530) 836- 2589 (Snowshoes available for rent also)

• Lost Sierra Adventures, 7512 Hwy. 89 #121, Graeagle (530) 836-1708

Snowshoes, cross-country ski and back country equipment rentals

For the current Snow Conditions at Lassen Volcanic National Park or the snow depth at the Summit of Mt. Lassen visit the forest service website:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/lassen/recreation/skiing/

Be safe out there and enjoy!