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Can you swim in Whiskeytown Lake, California?

People from all areas of the world enjoy swimming. Though summer is in full swing in the U.S., some places don’t get as hot as others. Naturally accommodating swim spots may be harder to find in the northwest, as the waters can be cold. 

If you’ve explored northern California, you may have heard of Whiskeytown Lake. But can you swim in its blue waters? Read on, and find out. 

Where Is Whiskeytown Lake, California? 

Whiskeytown Lake is in northwestern California. It’s inside a national park by the name of Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The town nearest to this site is Redding, California. If you’re traveling into the area, Interstate 5 is the closest mainline route. 

While in the area, explore the three national forests located in that part of California. You’ll have no shortage of nature to explore. 

What Is Whiskeytown Lake Known for? 

Tourists know Whiskeytown Lake best for its pristine beauty. The water in the lake is crystal clear. Locals regularly enjoy 30 feet of visibility into the waters. There are several waterfalls to explore and lots to do on the water. Water sports, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and camping are excellent ways to pass the time here.

Various wildlife lives in and around the lake. You can find black bears, mountain lions, deer, turtles, raccoons, and even bald eagles in the area. You’ll need several days to experience the beauty and secrets of this gorgeous lake. 

Pro Tip: Don’t know if Northern California is worth a road trip? These are 5 Reasons to Avoid Northern California.

Scenic view around Whiskeytown Lake
Explore the stunning waters of Whiskeytown Lake while in Northern California.

Is Whiskeytown Lake a Man-Made Lake?

Whiskeytown Lake is an artificial lake. It’s a reservoir that the Whiskeytown Dam on Clear Creek created. Most water comes from the Trinity River and tunnels over and through the mountains. Three creeks also feed the lake, providing perfect spawning habitat for kokanee salmon. 

The Whiskeytown Dam is six miles from the town of Redding, and it stands over 280 feet high. The lake has more than 35 miles of shoreline.

Is Whiskeytown Lake Clean?

Typically, agricultural land and urban or suburban environments are to blame for the bulk pollution in any body of water. However, Whiskeytown lake is in a fairly remote area. 

There are few towns upstream of the lake, resulting in a clean body of water. All the water flowing into Whiskeytown Lake comes from rural, mountainous, or forested landscapes. You won’t find many spots left with such a pristine environment. 

Whether you love fishing, swimming, or kayaking, there is something for everyone in Northern California.

Can you swim in Whiskeytown Lake, California?

You can and should swim in the warm waters of this lake. It might not be wise to take a dip in the cooler months, but a nice warm day presents a perfect opportunity to swim. There are several places to swim along the shoreline. 

Some of the most popular beaches along the Whiskeytown coastline are Brandy Creek Beach, Oak Bottom Beach, and East Beach. You cannot have pets, smoke, or alcohol in any swimming area. However, you could find a more secluded place for you and your pet to swim. 

What Kind of Fish Live in Whiskeytown Lake?

Whiskeytown Lake is an ideal spot for avid anglers. It is one of the best places in the nation to find kokanee salmon. You can find rainbow, brown, and brook trout in the lake. Spotted, largemouth, and smallmouth bass also reside in the clear waters. Additionally, bluegill and catfish can be found below the water.

Glory Hole in the middle of Whiskeytown Lake
Explore The Glory Hole that drains the lake when water levels are too high.

What Is the Hole in Whiskeytown Lake?

The “hole” is one of the most incredible things about the lake. Affectionately given the name “The Glory Hole,” the “hole” is a cleverly-designed overflow drain. When the water levels in the lake rise above 1,211 feet, the “Glory Hole” saves the day by diverting excess water underneath the dam to flow into Clear Creek. 

Is There a Town Under Whiskeytown Lake?

There is an old mining town beneath the waters of Whiskeytown Lake, and the old ghost town even influenced the naming of the lake. The city was Kennett, with 40 saloons, a school, a hotel, a hospital, and even an opera house. The town lies hundreds of feet below the lake’s surface, frozen in time as a relic of the past. 

Pro Tip: Continue your Northern California adventure by using our Ultimate Guide to Glass Beach, California.

Is Whiskeytown Lake, California Worth Visiting? 

Whiskeytown Lake, California, is worth paying a visit. Take some time exploring and getting a feel for the lake and the land surrounding it. There’s much to discover, and the area has cozy campground facilities. 

Are you planning to visit northern California soon? Tell us your travel plans in the comments!

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