A bit off the beaten path, Iron Gate Reservoir is noted for its fine fishing, although it’s also popular for swimming, boating and waterskiing, and its shores offer hiking, biking and camping. The best time to visit is in the spring, when the weather is mild and the surrounding hills green and lush. Because it is out of the way, it is rarely crowded. Iron Gate Reservoir is famous for an abundance of yellow perch, trout, largemouth bass and catfish, but a healthy population of native rainbow trout flourishes there as well. Bluegill and crappie can also be found.
The surrounding countryside is made up of rolling hills covered with oak and chaparral. When the waters are calm they reflect the scenery and sky, creating an exquisite tableau. The wind often picks up for a couple of hours in the afternoon, however; mornings tend to be the stillest times. The eastern arm of the lake is usually a little less windy than the rest.
Camping is free. There are no reservations, and availability is on a first come, first served basis. There is also no fee for boat launching, but there is a 10 mph speed limit throughout most of the reservoir. Camp Creek, the largest campground, is open year-round, but Juniper Point and Mirror Cove camps are only open from May to October. Amenities vary, and most campgrounds do not have potable water.
WHERE: About 10 miles east of I-5 and continuing upstream to Copco Reservoir. Exit I-5 at the Hornbrook/Henley offramp about 15 miles north of Yreka. (google map)
MORE INFO: California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, 530-475-3420 | Bureau of Land Management, 541-883-6916 | SiskiyouCountyCamping.blogspot.com