Spend the Day at the Thermalito Forebay
The Thermalito Forebay provides a unique recreation experience compared to other geographic areas of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. Its relatively stable water elevation level, proximity to City of Oroville amenities, and developed day use facilities provide an experience that is much different from Lake Oroville.
The North Thermalito Forebay boat ramp and day use area covers roughly half of the Forebay’s 630 surface acres and hosts non-motorized boating with a swim beach, large picnic area with barbecue grills, and abundant shade trees. This area also has restroom facilities, including showers, and drinking fountains to stay hydrated during a heat wave.
Also at the North Forebay, the Feather River Center and Forebay Aquatic Center promote education, recreation, boating, water safety, competitive water sports, and tourism. The Aquatic Center offers a wide range of rental equipment, from kayaks and canoes, to hydrobikes and pedal boats, which can be rented by the hour or day.
At the South Thermalito Forebay day use area, a two-lane boat ramp provides power boating access for recreation and fishing. The South Forebay also has a shaded picnic area with barbecue facilities and sandy swim beach, a vault restroom facility, and fish cleaning station. The Forebay shoreline also provides swimming opportunities to combat the heat.
Explore Loafer Creek
Located along the southern shoreline of Lake Oroville, the Loafer Creek Recreation Area offers several hiking, equestrian, and biking trails that are largely shaded by trees. With current temperatures in the high-90 or 100-plus degree range, trails such as the Loafer Creek Day Use (1.7 miles) or Loafer Creek Loop (4.1 miles) offer a shaded respite from the scorching sun. Trails also run along Lake Oroville’s waterline, providing an opportunity to cool off in the lake after meeting your activity goals for the day.
The Loafer Creek recreation trails can be accessed from the Loafer Point Campground and Day-Use area off Highway 162 (Oro-Quincy Highway), or trail users can connect to Loafer Creek through the Bidwell Canyon Saddle Dam Trail. The trails are open to equestrians and cyclists, but cyclists must stay on paved and dirt roads.
The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Visitor Center offers numerous educational exhibits, a theater featuring videos about the building of Oroville Dam, walking and hiking trails, and a 47-foot-tall observation tower providing unsurpassed panoramic views.
Visitors continue to enjoy the abundant recreation facilities at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. All major boat ramps are open with numerous launching lanes and available parking. Floating campsites provide a unique on-the-water camping experience, and several regular campgrounds provide camping throughout the Recreation Area while offering close access to water activities. The marinas at Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle are open daily and provide a variety of services including a convenience store, gas, and boat rentals. The North Forebay Aquatic Center has several summertime programs, and the Thermalito Afterbay has been a popular recreation spot for water skiers, jet skiers, paddle boarders, and anglers.
DWR, State Parks, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also maintain over 92 miles of trails in the Oroville area. An interactive map of recreation facilities, including open boat ramps, and their permitted uses (hike, bike, horse, multi) is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. A paper trail map is available at various locations, including most entrance kiosks and the Visitor Center.
Current Lake Operations
Lake Oroville is at 865 feet elevation and storage is approximately 3.01 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 85 percent of its total capacity and 138 percent of the historical average.
Feather River releases are currently at 4,500 cfs. Flows through the City of Oroville are at 2,200 cfs with further reductions scheduled into next week. Releases from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) are at 2,300 cfs with further increases scheduled for a total of 4,500 cfs downstream of the Outlet. Further changes in flow through the City of Oroville may occur next week for Delta water quality purposes. DWR continues to assess releases to the Feather River daily.
DWR has been using the main spillway intermittently this summer for water releases to manage storage within the Oroville complex or maintain Feather River temperature levels during ongoing river valve outlet system work near the Hyatt Powerplant. When the main spillway is not in use, water may still be seen on the main spillway outlet as the seals on the eight radial gates are not designed to be watertight. The gate seals do not play a role in the structural integrity of the gates, which continue to operate as intended. DWR periodically maintains and adjusts the seals during low-reservoir conditions to improve their sealing capability. The radial gates were also last inspected and tested in Dec. 2022.
Visitors to Oroville Dam may also notice minor amounts of water flowing from drains built into the emergency spillway, which is normal and expected with the emergency spillway design. The dam and emergency spillway continue to operate as intended.
The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center. The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 8/17/2023.