French Meadows Reservoir, near the headwaters of the Middle Fork American River, is a large 1,408 acre reservoir. Campground and boat launch facilities are located around the lake and along the Middle Fork American River upstream from the reservoir.
Any trout fanatic will delight in what French Meadows Reservoir has to offer. Experienced anglers consider French Meadows among the top trout lakes in the Sierra. At 5,200 feet in elevation, French Meadows is a large reservoir with more than 8 miles of shoreline. Oblong in shape with no prominent peninsulas or points, a closer look reveals plentiful habitat, big numbers of trout and forage aplenty. The depth of the submerged river channel is about 100 feet affording the trout a deep-water sanctuary. The tree stumps left from the development of the reservoir offer the trout cover and shade. The Department of Fish and Game stocks French Meadows with rainbows and browns annually. The rainbows average 12 to 22 inches while browns range beyond 6 pounds.
Hiking and Horseback Riding
Hiking opportunities are plentiful in the Middle Fork American River area.
The McGuire Trail, French Meadows area, is a part of the infamous Western States Trail winding through timber and following the north shore of French Meadows Reservoir. This short trail is a moderate climb to the top of Red Star Ridge offering scenic views of the area and is easily enjoyed by the entire family. Horseback riding is outstanding on this trail as well.
Mileage: 3-7/8 miles one way
Elevation: 5,290 to 5,600 feet
Use Level: Moderate
Topographic Map: Bunker Hill 7.5”
Access: The Trailhead is located at the McGuire boat ramp on the north side of French Meadows campground.
A great suggestion for an equestrian trail ride and a favorite amongst locals is Robinson Flat to French Meadows. The elevation is high enough that it almost never gets hot! It has varying terrain, all single track and not too steep.
French Meadows Picnic Area is located on the south shore of French Meadows and has 4 sites with tables and grills, potable water, toilets and a parking area. This area is perfect for swimming and hiking, with a tributary leading directly to the reservoir. This is a day use area only.
McGuire Picnic Area and Beach is located on the north shore of French Meadows. This site has 10 tables with grills, potable water, toilets and parking area. This is a day use only site with the reservoirs beach and swimming area adjacent to the picnic area.