Eagle Lake – Merrill Campground

Doesn’t get much better than this.

(Photo: Linda Pratt)

This destination was really the impetus for venturing out this summer at all. We’d been hunkered down for so long, with four months of reservations abandoned or cancelled, most hope had been lost for traveling of any kind. But then things started opening up again and the temptation grew. Once the subject was broached during a Messenger conversation with Linda-with-dogs, we both jumped feet first. Linda found this spot and we built a two-week outing around it. I think, even if we find out later that COVID killed us because of this trip, I’m going to say it was worth it.

Camping buds

We both reserved hookup sites in adjacent spots for three nights. The drive from Mineral was easy and I was pleased (well, mixed actually) to find that there was adequate cell service at the lake to be able to do zoom meetings. It was crazy great to see “our” doggies and their mommy. (What would you call a relationship that is like godparents, but with dogs? Are they our goddogs?) Even at six feet, having face to face conversations with good friends cannot be beat. Just chillin’ in the same location is substantially better than chatting over Messenger. And chatting over Messenger when you are in adjacent trailers is better too.

What would you do for a view….

I lost most of a day or two to work, but Richard and Linda cooked up a scheme whereby we could slip into some first come first serve sites looking right at the water and stay for as long as we wanted. Their execution of the plan was impressive. It involved Richard going and making a deal with people scheduled to leave the next day. When they were ready to pull out, they texted him, he parked our car in their site while I stayed on a zoom call in Dory. Then he scoped out a site for Linda and planted himself long enough for her to pull up just as the previous occupants were moving out. Then she parked her car in our site until we were ready to hitch up and move. By the end of it, we had two full solar waterfront sites for up to two weeks. Sweet! We got even more fancy later in the week by scooping up the site next to Linda and right by the trail to the beach. This is like Extreme Camping Musical Chairs where the prize on the line is the view you get when you’re having your morning coffee. High stakes.

Socially distanced selfie

On one of the days, we took a follow-the-leader driving trip along the Lassen National Park road. The drive was spectacular and we stopped here and there for photo ops and to take in the scenery. At the end of the day, we met up to do some quick shopping in Chester, which is a little town on the north shore of Lake Almanor. One big difference when you leave the more populated areas of the state is that mask wearing seems to become more optional and less commonplace. This meant that I wanted to limit indoor exposure to the least amount of time possible. No sweetie, no reading of labels allowed, grab it and get out.

Looking like summer now

Richard got in some excellent bike rides while the boaters got up the energy to get out on the water. One evening, we hiked up the “Osprey Trail” to a nice lookout point. We did not see any Osprey, but Richard swears he saw a juvenile Bald Eagle. We both saw a Western Tanager that more resembled a tropical fruit treat than a bird. And there were bats a plenty to entertain us at dusk.

Sunset shot… of course

We parted ways after an unusually long stay of six nights. There were other places we discussed going, but the heat made it way too hard to leave the well earned setup we had. Linda headed back south and we tracked up north. It could not have been better or more badly needed. The campground itself was great, even without the waterfront sites.

Total miles from Mineral: 75.2, 16.1 mpg, 2 hours 58 min. Sites: 155 with electric and water, but no solar, then 66 waterfront with solar and a nice shade tree for sitting but no hookups, then 57 with some shade and location next to the beach trail but no hookups. Enough LTE for both for most things. For the internet intensive activities, we put up the cell booster.

5 thoughts on “Eagle Lake – Merrill Campground

  1. I enjoyed camping vicariously with you 3 (6). 😎Man I cant wait to get back out there! ❤️

  2. I really enjoy reading about your trips and glad you are back camping again. Question, we have reservations at Merrill and North Shore Campground near Lake Almanor. Now that you have been to both, what is your preference? The reviews for North Shore are not that great with regards to the people running the place and seeing those shrimp looking bugs all over your kayak was not so appealing, but the idea of a mini Lake Tahoe does sound amazing. Lastly, the sites look closer together and that has me concerned given covid. I would loved to hear your thoughts now that you’ve camped in both locations. We also have some dates reserved at Manzanita Lake so I guess with that in mind as well, what would be your order of preference?

    1. Ooh, those are nice destinations, no matter what! For me, I think I’d prefer Merrill first, then Manzanita, and then North Shore. They all have their pros and cons, so it definitely depends what matters to you most. I think the spacing is closest at North Shore, so that’s not great for Covid concerns. Manzanita was nicely spaced, but there is no boating at the lake – or there wasn’t as of recently because of a protective mama otter. Maybe look that up to see if it’s open yet. If I were choosing solely between North Shore and Merrill right now, I’d go to Merrill personally.

  3. Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it! I did see that about the mama otter so I guess no lake access for us on Manzanita Lake.

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