Trinity Lake, California, USA

Also known as:  Clair Engle Lake

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Trinity Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Trinity Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Trinity Lake

In 1976 Tim Brady from Weaverville caught the California record smallmouth bass in Trinity Lake. The quiet lake still draws anglers today, both for the fishing and the outstanding history and recreation nearby.

Construction of Trinity Dam on the Trinity River started in 1957 and was completed in 1962. The resulting impoundment is in Trinity County, southeast of the Klamath Mountains in northern California. The reservoir is managed by the US Bureau of Reclamation and was created for hydroelectric power and irrigation. In 1964 the reservoir was named Clair Engle Lake after United States Senator Clair Engle. Area residents, however, never adopted the name, and the lake was renamed Trinity Lake in 1997. Many maps mistakenly refer to the lake as Clair Eagle Lake.

In addition to smallmouth bass, Trinity Lake has healthy populations of largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, and German brown and eastern brook trout. The rainbow trout fishing is also very good. The Trinity River Fish Hatchery below Lewistown Lake, about 15 miles from Trinity Lake, is operated by the California Department of Fish and Game. The hatchery on the Trinity River raises salmon to compensate for salmon lost because of the dams. It is open to the public.

Trinity Lake has a reputation for being peaceful and uncrowded. There are public boat launches and marinas with boat and houseboat rentals. Accommodations include lakeside cabin rentals and nearby RV parks and campgrounds. Vacation rental homes are available nearby on Cross Creek and the Trinity River. Water skiers and other water sports enthusiasts enjoy the expanse of deep blue water.

There are several miles of hiking trails near Trinity Lake, including the Trail of Trees, a loop trail at the Tannery Gulch Campground. The Trinity Lakeshore Trail is a four mile long trail that winds along the shoreline. Hikers might have a chance to see one of the ten pairs of bald eagles that nest around the lake. Bald eagles mate for life and usually nest in the same spot year after year.

Hikers can also explore historical sites near the Trinity Lake. Bowerman Barn was built in 1878 by Jacob Bowerman who moved to California from Ohio. Bowerman ran a successful ranch with his brother John. Jacob and his wife Anna had two sons, and Anna ran an inn called the “Bull Pen.” The barn is an exceptional example of 19th century craftsmanship. Today the barn is on the National Register of Historic Places. It can be reached from the trail on the shore of Trinity Lake.

Visitors interested in history may also enjoy the Joss House State Park. The state park is the home of the Temple of the Forest Beneath the Clouds which is the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in the California. The existing temple was built in 1874 after the old temple burned down. The temple was built to be used by the immigrant Chinese miners who worked the gold rush during the mid 1800’s. The state park is near the lake in Weaverville.

It is an easy drive from Trinity Lake to the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. At 2.1 million acres it is the largest forest in California. There is hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, skiing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and hunting.

With exceptional fishing, rich history, and recreation opportunities of the lake and surrounding area, Trinity Lake has something to please everyone.

Things to Do at Trinity Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest

Fish Species Found at Trinity Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Trinity Lake

If you’re considering a Trinity Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Trinity Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Trinity Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Trinity Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 17,280 acres

Shoreline Length: 145 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,370 feet

Average Depth: 142 feet

Maximum Depth: 390 feet

Water Volume: 2,447,650 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1962

Drainage Area: 692 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Trinity Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Trinity Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Trinity Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Trinity Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Trinity Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!