Paradise Lake has more than 7 miles of shoreline. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It doesn’t take long to get out of the flatlands of Chico and be surrounded by pines. In 20 minutes it’s like you are in a different world.

Welcome to Paradise—elevation about 2,000 feet, with conifers the dominant flora.

Walking along Paradise Lake it’s like being transported to the mountains. It’s magical in many ways, especially with there being no evidence right at the lake of the devastating 2008 Camp Fire.

A few of us are out on this first day of the new year. It’s a wonderful way to start the year—hiking a little more than 5 miles in a rather secluded area. Much of the trail is wide enough for the two of us.

Most of the dirt trail is flat and meanders along the lake. When the water isn’t visible the tall trees envelop us.

A kayaker and fisherman are out enjoying the tranquil waters.

In some ways this 204-acre lake is reminiscent of Jenkinson Lake near Sly Park in El Dorado County.

The Paradise Lake trail goes along the east shore. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Paradise Recreation and Park District has been responsible for the recreation amenities and operations since June 2020. Prior to that the Paradise Irrigation District took care of everything at the Butte County facility.

The 84 acres available for fun include walking trails, picnic area, two boat launches, fishing, and kayak rentals when it’s warm.

However, with the primary purpose being the water supply for nearby residents, that means motorboats are not allowed. Dogs, horses and swimming are also not allowed.

This is one of two reservoirs providing water to the surrounding community. Paradise lake contains about 11,500 acre-feet of water. Magalia Reservoir is smaller, with a capacity of 796 acre-feet. It is along Little Butte Creek downstream from Paradise Lake. Paradise Dam separates the two bodies of water. No fishing or recreation is allowed at the smaller body of water.


  • Parking is $3.
  • Boating is $10, which includes parking.
  • The lake is closed Wednesdays for maintenance.
  • For more info, call 530.872.8619.

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