Best sailing lakes in California


The 5 best sailing lakes in California are:

  • Huntington Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Folsom Lake
  • Lake Almanor
best sailing lakes in california (1)

Each of the sailing lakes has its own environment and captivating atmosphere offered by none other than California. If you’re heading out towards California and looking to sail among the lakes, here’s what you need to know about each.

You can rent sailboats or bring your own at these lakes – or if you’re feeling up to it, you can build a boat and test your handiwork at any number of these amazing places!

Sailing in Huntington Lake

Huntington Lake comes equipped and ready to provide weekend sailors and boat enthusiasts with a public launch ramp that’s located between College and Deer Creek Campgrounds. You’ll also find the Lakeshore Marina and Rancheria Marina as well. Huntington Lake itself has several resorts and marinas which tend to sailboats and boaters’ needs such as: fuel, overnight slips, rentals, and launching ramps.

huntington lake

Why Huntington Lake Makes the Sailing List:

It’s reported that steady afternoon enjoyable winds make this lake very popular among water sports fans and sail enthusiasts. The lake’s east to west orientation allows for westerly winds to pick up around mid-morning in the summer season and continue onward into the late afternoon. If you’re pining for some action, the heavy gusts of wind can be found on the east end.

Boating Regulations in Huntington Lake:

  • 50 MPH daytime speed limit on Pine Flat, Shaver and Huntington Lake.
  • 5-MPH nighttime speed limit on all waterways in Fresno County.
  • No Wake Zone: No wakes allowed/ 5MPH max. speed limit.
  • 5-MPH speed limit within 100 feet of swimmer, 200 feet of swim beach, swim float, docks or launch ramp.

Sailing in Clear Lake

clear lake california

One of the absolute BEST decisions one can make is sailing in northern California on Clear Lake and here’s why:

  • It’s the largest natural freshwater lake in California
  • It’s the oldest lake in North America
  • Conveniently located two hours north of San Francisco
  • It’s a gigantic lake: more than 43,000 surface acres and 100 miles of shoreline.
  • Boaters enjoy unparalleled scenery, with views of the towering Mount Konocti and the abundant waterbirds and wildlife.
  • The Clear Lake nickname is the “Bass Capital of the West.”

Experiencing Clear to the Fullest

Average water temperature of the Lake in the summer is a warm 75 degrees! The Konocti Bay Sailing Club is a member-driven organization dedicated to the promotion of sailing on the Lake. You’ll also find that club has extensive racing and cruising programs, to attract all levels of sailing enthusiasts, as well as social activities throughout the year.

Sailing Lake Tahoe

Out of sailing many lakes, Lake Tahoe still remains as World Sailing Charters favorite places to take a sailboat. The Lake is truly some sort of masterpiece of nature.

sailing lake tahoe

Here’s a bit of history on Lake Tahoe and how it came to be one of the best sailing lakes around.

First, the Tahoe Basin was formed about five to ten million years ago due to the shifting of geologic faults.

Next, colossal forces began the western tilt of the Sierra Nevada block. As a such, two principal parallel faults developed.

  1. The eastern margin created the Carson Range and
  2. The western margin created the Sierra Nevada.

The up-thrown fault blocks created the highest peaks in the region. The down-thrown fault blocks sank to create a deep v-shaped valley, now called the Lake Tahoe Basin.

A Sailing experience on geological magic

Then, two million years ago, volcanic activity and lava flowing from Mt. Pluto formed a barrier across the Basin’s northeastern outlet. Thus, creating a natural dam across Lake Tahoe’s original outlet, the Truckee River.

Finally, water from the snowfall and streams gradually filled the Lake Tahoe Basin, over 600 feet higher than its present lake level! Eventually, a new outlet eroded through the northeastern lava dam, creating the present path of the Lower Truckee River, the only outlet of the lake. By action of the California state legislature in 1945, Lake Tahoe became the official name of the lake. The Indian word “tahoe” means “big water.”

Can you sail on Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is a very challenging sailing adventure. This is because winds are always shifting and changing. Remember, this is a high mountain lake and this makes the sailing winds unpredictable. It’s said that if you can sail at Lake Tahoe, you can sail anywhere!

How long does it take to get a boat across Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe’s shoreline is 72 miles around so if you wanted to sail all the way around the shoreline it would take you approximately 7 hours to go in a circle around the lake’s shoreline traveling at a pace of 10 miles per hour.

Where can you boat in Lake Tahoe?

  • The top piers for include:
  • Timber Cove Marina
  • The Marina at Zephyr Cove Resort
  • Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina
  • Tahoe Keys Marina (largest marina)

Sailing on Folsom Lake

sailing in folsom lake

Folsom Lake, located at the base of the Sierra foothills, offers opportunities for:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Runing
  • Camping
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterskiing and Boating
  • Fishing (Trout, catfish, big and small mouth bass or perch)

If you’re also a cyclist, you’ll find a 32-mile bike path that connects Folsom Lake with Sacramento County Parks. The park also includes Lake Natoma which is incredibly popular for sailing, crew races, and kayaking.

Locating Folsom Lake

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is located in the Sierra-Nevada foothills about 25 miles east of Sacramento, can be reached via either Highway 50 or I-80. Both Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma have many access points and entrances. The administrative offices are located at the base of Folsom Dam at the corner.

Best times to visit Folsom Lake for sailing

The primary recreation season coincides with the spring and summer months when temperatures are in the 80s, 90s and 100s. Visitation is highest from April through September. Spring evenings and weekends are the times of highest lake activity.

Sailing in Lake Almanor

Sailing in Lake Almanor is a must-d0 on any sailing bucket list! The Lake Almanor Basin and surrounding Lassen National Volcanic Park and Lassen National Forest area spread across to where the granite of the Sierra Nevada meets the lava of the Cascades.  

lake almanor

Enjoy hours of Sailing on Lake Almanor

With a giant 52 miles of shoreline, the Lassen Volcanic National Park is a wonderland for all ages, activities, and enthusiasts. As it is the largest lake in Plumas County with 52 miles of shoreline, you’ll find two public boat launches, three full service marinas with boat rentals and gas.

Of note: the summer temperature of the water makes it ideal for swimming, wake boarding, kayaking and wave runners.

Two public boat launch areas on Lake Almanor:

  • Forest Service Ramp at the Canyon Dam Picnic Area at the Junction of Hwy. 147 and Hwy. 89, Picnic tables and fire pits, restrooms, 3 lane ramp, launch/load dock, no fee
  • Forest Service Ramp on the West Shore 1 mi. off Hwy. 89 on Almanor Drive West, located in the U.S.F.S campground area, restrooms, public beach, launch/load dock, no fee

Enjoy spectacular fishery of:

  • Browns
  • Rainbows
  • Salmon
  • Small Mouth Bass
  • …all can be caught year round!

Presently, Lake Almanor brings to you over 840 RV and campsites, a plethora of budding private businesses, and Lassen National Forest. Lodging is equally as exciting and you have a choice of:

  • Vacation Homes
  • Cabins
  • Resorts
  • Motels/Hotels
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • RV Spots

Other top rated lakes in California to Visit

There are plenty of other lakes to visit in California, some are more decorated with hiking trails, and others – depending if you’re in Southern California or near San Francisco – offer larger water-sport activities on their lakes. The best places to live on a boat in the world include some of these amazing lakes!

california lakes

Shasta Lake:

Less than 15 miles north of Redding in Northern California, Shasta Lake is the state’s largest reservoir. Comprised of sprawling fingers and river ways that collect behind the massive Shasta Dam, the 30,000-plus acres of Shasta Lake invite all types of exploring.

Big Bear Lake:

Surrounded by pine trees at an elevation of over 6,700 feet, and adjacent to a city with the same name, Big Bear Lake is a snow-fed recreation spot that is popular with all types of boating throughout the summer.

Mono Lake:

Just outside the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park near Lee Vining, Mono Lake features distinctive ancient tufa towerssprouting from the water.

Silverwood Lake:

One of the most popular lakes in Southern California, Silverwood Lake is in the San Bernardino Mountains and less than 90 miles from Los Angeles. 

Cachuma Lake:

In the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, a half-hour drive from Santa Barbara, the mountains surrounding Cachuma Lake add to the lake’s rugged beauty. Cachuma Lake is a domestic water supply, which means body contact is not allowed with the water. 

Mammoth Lakes Basin:

Five minutes from the Sierra Nevada Mountain town of Mammoth Lakes, home to Mammoth Mountain ski and snowboard resort, the Mammoth Lakes Basin offers a surreal collection of alpine water.

Bass Lake:

In the Sierra National Forest, an hour north of Fresno, Bass Lake is a popular destination for all types of water activity. The five-mile length of Bass Lake appeals to motorized boaters, and several sheltered coves offer great spots to swim, fish, and paddle a boat.

Lake Berryessa:

Less than two hours north of San Francisco, Lake Berryessa is a massive freshwater reservoir and the largest lake in Napa County. Popular for boating, jet skiing, and water sports.

Lake Havasu:

Straddling the Arizona and California border in the far southeast part of the state, this popular body of water is a 19,000-acre impoundment of the Colorado River. Surrounded by desert landscapes, Lake Havasu is popular for motorized boating, bass fishing, and swimming from the shore.

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