Explore Public Lands

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”

– Ed Abbey

Friends of Plumas Wilderness advocates for the protection of wildlands – naturally functioning ecosystems predominantly free from the control of modern civilization. Wildlands are critical to the survival of many species.  Likewise, wildlands are crucial to some people.

The tables, maps and trail descriptions below characterize Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness and Roadless Areas in the Northern Sierra and Southern Cascades. Wildlands are grouped by land management agency from south to north. Descriptions are provided to encourage people to explore these areas and join in advocating for their protection. Please respect these places and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Wilderness Land Manager Acres Year Designated
Bucks Lake Plumas National Forest 23,700 1984
Ishi Lassen National Forest 42,000 1984
Caribou Lassen National Forest 20,833 1964
Thousand Lakes Lassen National Forest 16,582 1964
Lassen Volcanic National Park Service 79,062 1972
Total Acres 182,177

Plumas National Forest

Wildlands

Middle Fork Feather River
Feather Falls National Recreation Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing, Swimming, Canyoneering, Kayaking, Rock Climbing
Land Manager Plumas National Forest
Trail Feather Falls National Recreation Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Feather Falls / 2,240’
Access Road Paved
Distance 8.0 miles round trip
Difficulty Difficult
Terrain Canyon rim
Elevation Gain / Loss 1,840’ / -1,840’
USGS Quad Maps Forbestown, Brush Creek

Friends of Plumas Wilderness is proposing a 40,000 acre Middle Fork of the Feather River Wilderness. Wilderness protections will include the entire canyon, expanding upon the narrow ½ mile wide corridor protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

The Middle Fork Feather River was recognized for its untamed beauty and was designated as one of the original eight “charter” rivers protected under the 1968 National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.  A 77.6 mile long by half-mile wide long corridor is protected as Wild & Scenic. Two segments totaling 32.9 miles does are designated Wild. The 11,080 acre Wild areas and a 27,000 acre Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized area form the largest Inventoried Roadless Area on the Plumas National Forest.

World-class recreation opportunities can be found within the Wild Middle Feather River watershed.

Recreation Opportunities in the Middle Fork of the Feather River Watershed

  • 10.5 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail
  • 48 miles of Wild Trout Waters
  • 32 miles of Class V kayaking
  • Swimming and Canyoneering
  • Multi-pitch rock climbing
  • Hiking and Backpacking
  • Horseback Riding
  • 8.4 mile Hartman Bar National Recreation Trail
  • 8.0 mile Feather Falls National Recreation Trail
  • 410’ Feather Falls

The Wild Middle Feather watershed has a relief in elevation of one mile from 6,108 feet at Dogwood Peak to 902 feet at Lake Oroville. Steep Middle Fork canyons contain a diversity of habitat types including:  Sierra mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands, riparian forests and chaparral shrub lands.  The Wild Middle Feather is important for wildlife as it connects low and high elevation areas to the east and west via the main river corridor and to the north and south via several large side canyons. The Proposed Middle Fork Feather River Wilderness provides wildlife connectivity between four ecoregions, the Sierra Nevada, Southern Cascades, Central Valley and Great Basin.

The proposed Middle Fork of the Feather River has light recreation use. Lower elevations are accessible year-round.  Higher elevations are accessible late-spring, summer and fall. The Plumas National Forest Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Feather River map provides trail descriptions.

The Feather Falls Trail provides views of the spectacular 410’ Feather Falls and Bald Rock Canyon. To see the falls in their full glory go in the spring when runoff is at a peak and wildflowers are blooming.  The trail travels through Sierra foothill and Sierra mixed conifer habitats. Visitors can see canyon live oak, madrone, California bay and the rare California nutmeg on the loop hike. Keep your eyes open for poison oak too.  Because there are limited camping opportunities along the trail and it receives relatively high use, it is best done as a day hike.

The Middle Fork Feather River near where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses at Butte Bar.

The Middle Fork of the Feather River near Cabin Springs.

Feather Falls.


Bucks Lake Wilderness
Bucks Summit to Spanish Peak

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing
Land Manager Plumas National Forest
Trail Pacific Crest Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Belden / 2,200’, Three Lakes / 6,240’, Silver Lake / 5,520’, Bucks Summit / 5,536’
Access Roads Belden – paved road, Three Lakes – unimproved road, Silver Lake – dirt road maintained for passenger cars, Bucks Summit – paved road
Distance Bucks Summit to Spanish Peak is 5.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Rolling mountains with several small glacial lakes, North Fork of the Feather River Canyon in the north
Elevation Gain / Loss 1,532’ / -70’
USGS Quad Maps Belden, Caribou, Storrie, Bucks Lake, Meadow Valley

The 23,700 acre Bucks Lake Wilderness was designated in 1984 and ranges in elevation from 2,200’ at the North Fork of the Feather River to 7,017’ at Spanish Peak. The area has diverse topography and a variety of habitat types. Glaciated lakes are found on the eastern edge of the Wilderness. Ridges not carved by glaciers have extensive stands of red fir with numerous subalpine meadows and fens. The Mount Pleasant Research Natural Area, designated for research of fens and red fir forests, lies within the Bucks Lake Wilderness.

Over twenty miles of trails are located within the Bucks Lake Wilderness, including fifteen miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Bucks Lake Wilderness has light use. The Wilderness is accessible year round via the Bucks Summit Trailhead.

The hike from Bucks Summit (5,536’) to Spanish Peak (7,017’) takes hikers through montane chaparral, Sierra mixed conifer forests, montane meadows and red fir forests. On a clear day, hikers who make it to Spanish Peak are rewarded with views from Lassen Peak to Sierra Buttes. North of Spanish Peak, the Pacific Crest Trail contours above several glaciated lakes.

Spanish Peak and Rock Lake dusted in an early fall snow.

Several small, glaciated lakes are located near the Silver Lake Trailhead.

Lassen National Forest

Wildlands

Ishi Wilderness
Mill Creek Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Kayaking
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trails Approximately 38 miles of maintained trails
Trailhead / Elevation Kingsley Cove / 3,080’, Rancheria / 3,200’,

Mill Creek / 2,080’, Lassen / 4,080’, Moak / 3,680’

Deer Creek / 1,680’, Devils Den / 3,600’

Access Roads Unimproved roads
Distance Mill Creek to Pape Place is 4.75 miles
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Deeply incised west flowing creeks separated by ridges and plateaus
Elevation Gain / Loss Mill Creek to Pape Place 566’ / -1083’
USGS Quad Maps Panther Spring, Barkley Mountain, Deer Creek Flat, Devils Parade Ground

The Ishi Wilderness has light use. The best seasons to visit are spring and fall. During winter months, trailheads may be inaccessible. Summer here can be very hot.

In the southern Cascade foothills, approximately twenty miles east of Red Bluff, California, is the 42,000 acre Ishi Wilderness. The Ishi is a unique low-elevation Wilderness that protects California foothill habitats along free-flowing creeks. Mill and Deer creeks provide some of the best spring run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout habitat in the state. The Ishi Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1984.

The Ishi is named for a Yahi Yana Indian who was the last survivor of his tribe, which lived in the area for over three thousand years. Shortly after the 1849 Gold Rush, settlers exterminated all but a handful of the Yahi. Ishi (the Yahi word for man) and a few others escaped massacres and hid for decades in this harsh, wild country. After spending several years alone, Ishi left his ancestral land and was discovered near Oroville, California in 1911. The “last wild Indian” died in Berkeley in 1916.

Hiking the Mill Creek Trail below Black Rock you access blue oak savannah, ponderosa pine forests, riparian vegetation and unique volcanic rock formations that form hoodoos. The Mill Creek Trail contours at the foot of the Mill Creek Rim north of Mill Creek. Mill Creek is accessible at several locations. Please respect private property at the trailhead and Pape Place. Poison oak is pervasive along the lower section of this trail.

Blue oak savannah, ponderosa pine and riparian habitats along Mill Creek.

Spring is a great time to backpack in the Ishi Wilderness.


Yahi
Mill Creek Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Kayaking
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trail Mill Creek Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Mill Creek / 4,480’, Black Rock / 2,080’
Access Road Mill Creek – gravel road, Black Rock – unimproved road
Distance 13 miles from Black Rock to Mill Creek
Difficulty Difficult
Terrain The Mill Creek Trail contours above Mill Creek
Elevation Gain / Loss 3074’ / -818’
USGS Quad Maps Barkley Mountain, Onion Butte, Mineral

Friends of Plumas Wilderness supports Lassen National Forest’s recommendation to designate the area as Wilderness and commends organizations and individuals that have worked to transfer Sierra Pacific Industry inholdings to the Forest Service. We propose an 8,320 acre Wilderness along Mill Creek.

The Mill Creek Trail above Black Rock provides access to a spectacular portion of the Lassen National Forest managed as “recommended wilderness”. Visitors to the little used area can experience solitude in a natural setting. The Mill Creek Trail has light use. The best seasons to visit are spring, summer, and fall.

The Mill Creek Trail above Black Rock ranges in elevation from 2,000’ at Black Rock to nearly 4,500’ at the Mill Creek Trailhead. Habitat types vary from blue oak savannah to Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forests. Large specimens of conifers can be found along Mill Creek.

Mill Creek is an important wildlife corridor for aquatic and terrestrial species. Spring run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout are found in Mill Creek. The Tehama mule deer herd uses the area to migrate from low elevation winter habitat to higher elevation summer habitat.

Blue Oak Savannah above Black Rock.

Exploring Mill Creek in March.


Heart Lake
Heart Lake National Recreation Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trail Heart Lake National Recreation Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Heart Lake / 5,920’
Access Road Dirt road maintained for passenger cars
Distance 6.1 miles to Heart Lake from Plantation Gulch
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Climb ridge southwest of Brokeoff Mountain
Elevation Gain / Loss 1,560’ / -900’
USGS Quad Maps Childs Meadows, Reading Peak

Friends of Plumas Wilderness supports Lassen National Forest’s recommendation to designate the area as Wilderness. We propose a 12,800 acre Wilderness that includes the Heart Lake Trail and adjoins the 78,982 acre Lassen Volcanic Wilderness south and west of Brokeoff Mountain. The area can be accessed from the south via 30N16 and from the west via Primary Forest Road 17.

The Heart Lake National Recreation Trail provides access to a portion of the Lassen National Forest managed as “recommended wilderness”. Visitors to the very little used area can experience solitude in a natural setting. The Heart Lake National Recreation Trail was designated in 1979. Motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail. The Heart Lake Trail has light use. The best seasons to visit are summer and fall.

The 6 mile hike to Heart Lake from Plantation Gulch travels through Sierra mixed conifer forests and red fir forests. From the trailhead you climb over 1,500’ to the southwest corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park. If you take the Brokeoff Mountain spur, you continue another 2 miles and climb another 1,400’. From the southwest corner of the Park, you descend 900’ to Heart Lake.

You can also access Heart Lake from the west via Primary Forest Road 17. Trails climb both Digger Creek and South Fork Digger Creek. Both routes are just over two miles.


 

Brokeoff Mountain (9,235’) from Rocky Peak.

Heart Lake with Rocky Peak in the background.


Blue Lake
Spencer Meadow National Recreation Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trail Spencer Meadow National Recreation Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Spencer Meadow / 4,960’
Access Road Paved
Distance 12 mile loop
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Climb canyon rim and plateau to large meadow
Elevation Gain / Loss 1,600’ / 1,600’
USGS Quad Maps Childs Meadows, Reading Peak

Friends of Plumas Wilderness supports Lassen National Forest’s recommendation to designate the area as Wilderness. We propose a 7,000 acre Wilderness south of the 79,062 acre Lassen Volcanic Wilderness that includes the Spencer Meadows Trail and Blue Lake.

The Spencer Meadow National Recreation Trail provides access to a spectacular portion of the Lassen National Forest managed as “recommended wilderness”. Visitors to the little used area can experience solitude in a natural setting. The Spencer Meadows National Recreation Trail was designated in 1979. Motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail. The Spencer Meadow Trial has light use. The best seasons to visit are summer and fall.

Hikers and horseback riders on the Spencer Meadow Trail can complete a 10.5-mile loop in one day or slow down and camp at an established site in Spencer Meadows. The loop trail consists of three trail segments. A 2-mile section of the Spencer Meadows Trail climbs from 5,000’ to 6,000’ up the west flank of Wild Cattle Mountain. Large specimens of incense cedar, ponderosa and sugar pine tower over the trail. The 4-mile Meadow Route continues north to Spencer Meadow where you can find the remains of a cabin surrounded by massive western white pines and on to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The trail passes small meadows surrounded by Sierra mixed conifer forest dominated by white fir with lodgepole pine in wet areas. The 4.5-mile Canyon Route takes you along the rim above Mill Creek and provides excellent views of peaks in Lassen Volcanic National Park and Childs Meadow. This leg has an overlook of Canyon Creek Falls, a 50-foot waterfall that sprays over a colorful alcove.

The Proposed Blue Lake Wilderness can be accessed via the Spencer Meadow Trailhead on Highway 36/89 just east of the Childs Meadows Resort or at the Blue Lake Trailhead. To get to the Blue Lake Trailhead, travel approximately two miles southeast of the Childs Meadows Resort on State Highway 36/89 before turning east on to County Route 769. After about 3 miles, turn north onto Forest Road 29N18 and continue approximately 6 miles to the Blue Lake Trailhead.

View to Upper Mill Creek and Lassen Volcanic National Park from the Canyon Route.

Childs Meadows seen from the Canyon Route.

Canyon Creek Falls in spring.


Caribou Wilderness
Caribou Lake to Triangle Lake

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trails Approximately 25 miles of maintained trails
Trailhead / Elevation Cone Lake / 6,800’, Caribou Lake / 6,560’,

Hay Meadow / 6,200’

Access Roads Dirt roads maintained for passenger cars
Distance Caribou Lake to Triangle Lake – 5 miles
Difficulty Easy
Terrain Gentle, rolling forested plateaus with many lakes
Elevation Gain / Loss 680’ / 175’
USGS Quad Maps Bogard Buttes, Red Cinder

The 20,833 acre Caribou Wilderness was designated with the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. The Caribou Wilderness abuts the 79,062 acre Lassen Volcanic Wilderness to the west. The Caribou Wilderness has moderate use. The best seasons to visit are late summer and fall. During the early summer mosquitoes are prevalent.

The Caribou Wilderness is loaded with cinder cones and splendid timber-fringed lakes. The larger lakes support brook and rainbow trout. The hike from Caribou Lake to Triangle Lake is about 5 miles and gains only 500’. This route provides access to the largest lakes in the Wilderness, Caribou, Triangle and Turnaround. Three trailheads, located on the north, east, and south sides of the Caribou Wilderness provide easy access to abundant lakes.

Backpackers relax at one of the many lakes in the Caribou Wilderness.


Thousand Lakes Wilderness
Tamarak Trailhead to Magee Lake

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing
Land Manager Lassen National Forest
Trails 21 miles accessed from four trailheads
Trailhead / Elevation Magee / 6,000’, Bunchgrass / 5,920’,

Tamarack / 5,840’, Cypress / 5,520’

Access Road Magee and Bunchgrass – dirt roads maintained for passenger cars

Tamarack and Cypress – unimproved roads

Distance Tamarak to Magee Lake is 6 miles
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Glaciated valley with many forest fringed lakes
Elevation Gain / Loss 1,390’ / -100’ Tamarak Trailhead to Magee Lake
USGS Quad Maps Jacks Backbone, Thousand Lakes Valley

The 16,582 acre Thousand Lakes Wilderness was designated with the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. The Thousand Lakes Wilderness has moderate use. The best seasons to visit are late summer and fall. During early summer mosquitoes are prevalent.

The 6 mile hike from Tamarak Trailhead to Magee Lake allows Wilderness visitors to explore Thousand Lakes Valley, passing Eiler Butte and Lake Eiler, the largest lake in the Wilderness. Magee Lake is set in a spectacular setting and allows campers easy access to the highest peaks in the Wilderness. The 2 mile hike from Magee Lake to Magee Peak climbs over 1,300’.

When Thousand Lakes Volcano was glaciated, it created numerous depressions which are now timber-lined lakes. The larger lakes support trout. Crater Peak, located in the western part of the Wilderness, is the highest point in the Lassen National Forest at 8,677’. On a clear day, visitors who hike the trail to Magee Peak (8,549’) or beyond to Crater Peak have unobstructed views to Lassen Peak, Mt. Shasta, the Central Valley and the Coast Range.

Four trailheads, one on each side of the Wilderness, provide access to 21 miles of maintained trails. Directions to trailheads are provided in the Forest Service Guide to the Ishi, Thousand Lakes, & Caribou Wildernesses.

Magee Lake and Red Cliff.

Crater Peak (8,683’) from Freaner Peak (7,485’).

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Wildlands

Lassen Volcanic Wilderness
Brokeoff Mountain Trail

Activities Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Fishing
Land Manager Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trail Brokeoff Mountain Trail
Trailhead / Elevation Brokeoff Mountain / 6,635’
Access Road Paved
Distance 7.4 miles round-trip
Difficulty Difficult
Terrain Volcanic peaks and numerous tree-lined lakes
Elevation Gain / Loss 2,600’ / -2,600’
USGS Quad Maps Manzanita Lake, West Prospect Peak, Prospect Peak, Lassen Peak, Reading Peak, Mount Harkness

The 79,062 acre Lassen Volcanic Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1972. Friends of Plumas Wilderness supports the National Park Service recommendation to add another 13,151 acres in the Park to the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness.

For sheer beauty and rugged mountain scenery the Brokeoff Trail is one of the best in the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness. The trail climbs steadily through open meadows and forest for two miles and then through scattered mountain hemlocks and above timberline to the summit.

The one-half mile elevation gain and 7-mile round-trip hike make this one of the toughest in the Park, though also one of the most rewarding. The views at the top can’t be matched.

Snow is likely to be found in places along the trail until mid-August, and there is usually too much snow for hiking before mid-July.

The trailhead is located on Highway 89, 0.5 mile south of the Lassen Volcanic National Park Southwest Entrance Station. Hikers who do not plan to continue through the Southwest entrance station can pay their park fee at the fee station in the Brokeoff Mountain Trail parking area.

Upper Little Hot Springs Valley, an area proposed as Wilderness.

View to Lassen Peak from Brokeoff Mountain (9,235’).

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