Trinity Lake

Trinity Lake
Trinity Lake
Location Trinity County, California
Coordinates 40°49′21″N 122°45′54″W / 40.8225°N 122.765°W / 40.8225; -122.765Coordinates: 40°49′21″N 122°45′54″W / 40.8225°N 122.765°W / 40.8225; -122.765
Primary inflows Trinity River
Primary outflows Trinity River
Basin countries United States
Water volume 2,447,650 acre·ft (3.01913 km3)
Surface elevation 2,387 ft (728 m)

Trinity Lake, previously called Clair Engle Lake, is a lake on the Trinity River formed by the Trinity Dam and located in Trinity County, California, The dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The lake has a capacity of 2,447,650 acre feet (3.01913×109 m3), making it one of the largest reservoirs in California. The lake's surface is at an elevation of 2370 feet. Trinity Lake captures and stores water for the Central Valley Project, which provides the Central Valley with water for irrigation and produces hydroelectric power. This lake is known for its many small arms, glassy inlets, and great water skiing conditions.

After the death in office of California United States Senator Clair Engle in 1964, the lake was renamed in his honor; however, this name never received wide currency, particularly with local residents, and the name eventually was officially reverted to the widely-used original one. Asking a local resident for directions to "Clair Engle Lake" may result in a prank, in which the unsuspecting individual is sent to the local sewage treatment facility.

The lake is serviced by three marinas, Trinity Alps Marina located on the southern end in view of the Dam; Cedar Stock marina on the Stuart Fork arm on the west end of the lake; and Trinity Center marina at the northern end of the main arm of the lake. Most of the marinas rent houseboats to vacationers year round. Most Marinas on the lake are now owned and operated by Forever Resorts, with the only exception being the Trinity Alps Marina.

Geology: Trinity Lake is located north of Redding, California, off of Highway 299 near the Gold Rush mining town of Weaverville. The Alpine scenery surrounding the lake makes up the Trinity Alps. The Alps were formed in the late Jurassic Period by volcanic activity in the form of ultramafic and granitic plutons (igneous rock formed from super-heated magma cooling under the surface of the earth), and tectonic activity (the super continent of Pangaea was beginning to pull apart into two separate super-sized continents) and glaciation during frigid climate periods known as ice ages (land surface modified by action of glaciers).1,2 The last remaining glaciers are on Thompson’s peak, at more than 9000 feet. The lake bed was originally a series of deep valleys in the Alps.4

History: The Discovery of Gold in 1848 prompted hundreds of minors to move into the area. Towns like Weaverville were born practically overnight. In 1958, a plan to divert water from Trinity River to California’s Central Valley led to the construction of Trinity Dam and the creation of Trinity Lake. This project was also designed to provide hydroelectric power to the local area. The Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project came to fruition in 1961 with the completion of Trinity Dam. The lake was renamed Clair Engle Lake from 1964 to 1997. It was eventually renamed Trinity Lake. The lake was completely filled with water from the Trinity River by 1963 and is the third largest lake in California with 145 miles of shoreline. The area is known to have been inhabited by several Native American tribes, most notably the Yurok and Hoopa. Both tribes have reservation lands in the area to this day.3

Recreation: Trinity Lake is less used by vacationers than the lower Lake Shasta due in part to the lengthy winding road up from the valley floor. Typical drive time from Redding (Interstate 5) to the lake is about 90 minutes along a winding mountain road. The large reservoir has an irregular coastline with four separate arms and many secluded tree-lined coves. The arms are called: Sacramento, McCloud, Squaw Creek, and Pit. This makes it a destination spot for fishing and water sports. Popular fishing includes that of smallmouth and largemouth Bass, catfish, kokanee, rainbow and brown trout. Fish remain ample, despite the negative impact that the damns have had on spawning ground in part due to the Trinity River Fish Hatchery, located just below Lewiston Dam. In addition to fishing, house boating, speed boating, and waterskiing are also popular lake activities. Surrounding the lake, visitors enjoy hiking and camping in the pristine wilderness of the Trinity Alps and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.3,6

Wildlife: There has been a dramatic decline in various fish species in the river since the dams were built and the lake created. Spawning steal-head, Chinook and Coho Salmon populations have all been affected by their loss of spawning ground. However, wildlife populations surrounding the lake remain strong. Black bears are common, and so proper precautions must be taken to secure campsites, throw away garbage and store food safely. Additional wildlife includes bobcats, mountain lions and many different bird species.3,5

1. Sharp, Robert Phillip. (1960). Pleistocene glaciation in the Trinity Alps of northern California Am Journal of Science, 258: 305-340. Retrieved from

2. Ferlatte, William J. A Flora of the Trinity Alps of Northern California (1974). University Press. Retrieved from

3. Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP). Retrieved from

4. Thompson Peak. Retrieved from

5. Shasta-Trinity National Forest. US Dept. of Agriculture. Retrieved from!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6IeDdGCqCPOBqwDLG-AAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooA1tkqlQ!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfMjAwMDAwMDBBODBPSEhWTjBNMDAwMDAwMDA!/?ss=110514&navtype=forestBean&navid=091000000000000&pnavid=null&cid=null&ttype=main&pname=Shasta%20Trinity%20National%20Forest%20-%20Home

6. Trinity Lake Resorts. Retrieved from

See also

  • List of largest reservoirs of California

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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