Thompson Lake – A Treasure Hunt Gone Right

Taking the road less traveled has become an overused phrase, but one appropriate for this trip which was all about lollygagging on twisty turny back roads.

Sandwiched between the National Forests of Lassen and Tahoe is Plumas National Forest, home to Bucks Lake Wilderness (geographically located between Quincy and Oroville).  I was drawn to the trails surrounding Bucks Lake and was especially interested in exploring the area where the Pacific Crest Trail passes through the wilderness.

I was quite surprised to stumble upon Thompson Lake.

Thompson Lake lies outside of the Bucks Lake Wilderness boundaries, as does much of Bucks Lake.

Thompson Lake seems to be a gem hidden in plain sight. It is a beautiful glacial lake, with distinct use trails, and is listed as a destination for fishing and leaf peeping. Information about this lake is sparse, although I did find it’s the drinking water supply for many of the surrounding cabins, thus the reason for no swimming and no boating.

Thompson Lake in the foreground; Bucks Lake in the background.

Sunrise over Bucks Lake

While exploring the trails above Thompson Lake, I stumbled upon this geocache. It is a mystery since it was found at Thompson Lake, not Bucks Lake. It is not registered on the official geocaching site, so I assume it was lost before planted and therefore never registered. Maybe someday I’ll retrieve, plant and register this misplaced cache. I’d love to share my story with the originator.


The treasure I was hunting on this particular day was beauty. I found it in the forests, the lakes, the trails. Traveling without an agenda, without expectations, without deadlines allowed me to enjoy my time at Thompson Lake and the Bucks Lake Wilderness. Maybe my return visit will be as a leaf peeper.



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