About Glenn County
At about 1,300 square miles in size, Glenn County is bisected by Highway 5 and contains just a few small towns where agriculture remains the primary source of the economy. The county seat is the town of Willows, situated in the southern portion of the county. With a population of about 6,000, it's not Glenn County's largest city but it is home to a handful of hotels and other lodging options suitable for those traveling through the area. Willows also boasts a lovely Georgian-style courthouse, the town's often photographed architectural gem. There's also a small airport available in this tiny town.
The town of Orland, further north along Highway 5, is the county's largest city and is well-known for its local raceway, which is a favorite hang-out for those who enjoy auto racing. Orland is also home to a small historical museum, the Alta Schmidt, worth a look if you're traveling through the area.
Not far from Orland is Black Butte Lake, built in 1963 by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. This 7-mile-long lake has a surface area of about 4,500 acres and a 40-mile-long shoreline. It's one of the prime recreation areas in this part of the state and certainly in Glenn County. Black Butte Lake has also become known as one of Northern California's prime warm water fisheries, with the best fishing occurring during the spring and early summer months. Anglers should expect to catch a variety of species including several types of bass including both largemouth and smallmouth, crappie, channel catfish, green sunfish, and Florida bluegill. Power boats are welcome on the lake as well as non-motorized vehicles.
Horseback riding is also popular throughout the surrounding Buckhorn Recreation Area, with equestrian trails winding through beautiful hills and valleys. A number of self-guided hiking trails also provide visitors with a look at the area on foot. Spring is an especially good time to go for a hike here as wildflowers are abundant and extremely colorful.
Black Butte Lake is also an ideal place for camping aficionados. There are two developed campsites at the lake: Buckhorn and Orland Buttes. Both provide access to drinking water, picnic tables, fire pits, launch ramps, trailer dump stations, pay telephones, and restroom facilities with showers. Many campsites can easily accommodate recreational vehicles up to 35 feet in length. Buckhorn is open year-round but Orland Buttes is open only during peak season from April through October.
The Sacramento River also stretches through pieces of Glenn County and the neighboring counties, providing a host of water recreation opportunities including boating, kayaking and canoeing, fishing, water skiing, and more. The lands adjacent to the Sacramento River are also rich in wildlife and birds, making the area perfect for those who enjoy observing nature. Towns found along the Sacramento River include Hamilton City, with a population of about 2,000, and Butte City, the only town built on the east side of the Sacramento River.
The town of Elk Creek, located at the base of the Coast Range, was established in the 1860s as a trading center. Not far from Mendocino National Forest in neighboring Mendocino County, Elk Creek sits on the western side of the county and is within close proximity of Stony Gorge Reservoir. About 5 miles west of the town of Fruto (named for its many fruit orchards), Stony Gorge was completed in 1928 and is an excellent location for boating and warm water fishing. Largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as crappie and bluegill can be found in the waters here. There's also opportunity for other water sports as well as hiking and camping in the Stony Gorge Reservoir area.
Though Glenn County is largely agricultural and may not attract as many visitors as the wine-producing counties to the west or the more recreational communities to the north, it is home to an excellent county fair that takes place each May. The Glenn County Fair is your typical rural country fair, featuring animals, carnival rides, fresh food from the county's many farms, and exhibits by local artisans and crafters, and is fun for visitors of all ages.
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