Set beneath the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges, Eagle Lake's pine and cedar forests cloak the south shore while juniper and sage dominate the north side. Vegetation varies from tall ponderosa to Jeffery pine. The north end of the lake is full of sagebrush, ponderosa and Jeffery pine; they inter mix and then give way to juniper, mountain mahogany, Great Basin shrubs and grasses. The south end of the lake is inhabited by beautiful cedar forests. Volcanic land formations dominate the lake basin, however, Gallatin Peak on the lake's southeast side includes granite. Mountains surrounding the lake rise nearly 3,000 feet above Eagle Lake's 5,100 foot elevation to the summit of Fredonyer Peak (7,943 feet) at the lake's north end and Roop Mountain (7,608) at the south end of the lake.
Eagle Lake sites in its own hydrologic basin within the Great Basin. All waters that flow into Eagle Lake remain there with no surface outflow. Despite the lake's closed basin hydrology, it contains a thriving fishery best known for the Eagle Lake rainbow trout averaging 3-5 pounds. Other fish include Lahontan redside, Tahoe sucker, and tui chub. Many species of waterfowl, grebes, white pelicans, great blue herons, cormorants and other aquatic birds live at the lake. Vegetation includes pine and fir forests on the mountains around the south, west and north sides of the lake with sagebrush steppe ecosystems dominating the northeast end of the lake.
Eagle Lake is 42 square miles and is the second largest natural lake in California. Visitors are often impressed by the largely undeveloped character of the lake. With only 20% of the lake shore in private ownership, and not all of that developed, there are large segments of the shoreline that remain primitive where man passes by in boats or on foot.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed in wilderness areas and on most other U.S. Forest trails. Pet owners please follow guideline: Keep pet on 6 ft leash at all times. Control excessive barking. Check paws often on rocky terrain, can cause cuts, consider protective dog pads. Pick up or bury canine waste. Keep your dog close by when encountering other people on the trails and beaches. Remember to bring enough water for you and your pet.
There are 20 developed camp sites available on a first come first served basis. The sites are open mid May to early November depending on seasonal weather conditions. Facilities include potable water, fire rings, picnic tables, lake access, RV (up to 35') or trailer sites, tent sites, trash removal, and vault toilets.
For wildlife viewing, April through September are peak months for viewing bald eagles that nest in the nearby Jeffery pine forest. White pelicans, western grebes, great blue herons, osprey, and many diving ducks feed on fish in the lake. Valley quail live in brushy and grassy areas. In early spring, numerous Canada geese, mallards, pintails and other waterfowl visit the area.
May through June and September through October are peak months for viewing shorebirds, waterfowl and osprey.
Eagle Lake offers approximately 90 miles of off-road vehicle trails of routes within the recreation area to be used for motorcycle, ATV and 4-WD use depending on the width of the trail. The routes traverse a wide variety of terrain including flat, sandy, high desert sagebrush country and rocky, steep canyons and gulches.
In addition to off highway vehicle use, the Fort Sage Mountains are utilized by hikers, horseback riders, rock climbers, hunters and wildlife photographers. There are many unusual weathered granite boulders, volcanic outcrops, expansive desert vistas and good opportunities for viewing wildlife and wild horses.
Eagle Lake is open year round.
The fee is $8 per night for a single site or $11 per night if multiple spaces are needed.