160 miles…3 camping areas…five days

After spending more time in SE Oregon than we thought we would, we needed to start heading south to avoid the cold weather and my “I’m so cold” whine.  Still we couldn’t force ourselves to go very far very fast – there is just too many neat places to see along the way.

Mt. Shasta - you can see it for miles and several directions

Mt. Shasta – you can see it for miles and several directions

Modoc NF happy hour view

Modoc NF happy hour view

Beautiful pine forest setting for an evening

Beautiful pine forest setting for an evening

Along 395 heading south into California, we found some neat boondocking camping spots and thoroughly loved our time in Lassen National Volcanic Park.

Modoc NF dispersed spot
Modoc NF dispersed spot

 

We stopped for a night and enjoyed a hike and a scenic happy hour in the Modoc National Forest near Rush Creek campground.  The campground looked wonderful – if it was in the summer – but since it is at 6,000 ft. it was a little too shady to capture the evening and morning sun.  We went higher up the mountain and found a sweet dispersed camping spot on the western slope.  The afternoon was warm so we hiked up the mountain to see the view and climb around the volcanic crags.

 

The next morning we headed off to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Lassen is one of the National Parks in Northern California that a receives a fraction of the visitors that other parks do — approximately  430,000 compared to Sequoia’s 1 million or Yosemite’s 3.8 million.

Lassen Peak

Lassen Peak

After marveling at the park’s diversity we wondered why it doesn’t garner more visitors.  It is set up so well for hiking — there is only one main road in the park and you need to hike to see many of the unusual sites (maybe this explains why so few people go).

Steam vent in Bumpass Hell

Steam vent in Bumpass Hell

Boiling water in Bumpass Hell

Boiling water in Bumpass Hell

We hiked to Bumpass Hell  which is the largest hydrothermal area in the park.  After hiking for about 1.5 miles you start smelling the sulphur and seeing steam.  The park has built boardwalks in the hydrothermal area so you can get a close look at some of the unusual features. The temperature of high-velocity steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the park, has been measured as high as 322°F, making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world.

After leaving Lassen we found two neat camping spots that were so different – Pit River Campground, a BLM campground near Burney, CA and Benner Creek in the Lassen National Forest near Chester, CA.

Pit River Campground site

Pit River Campground site

campground pit riverPit River CG had only seven sites and a vault toilet but was IMMACULATE. The fabulous location was on the river so we climbed the big rocks along the edge for a couple of miles and walked another road close to the river. Price $8.

Pit River near campground

Pit River near campground

 

We saw a pine tree that had rows and rows of woodpecker holes — huge holes compared to ones we’ve seen before.  On close inspection, small acorns were put into some of the holes all the way up the tree.  All we could think that squirrels put them in the holes so they wouldn’t have to dig them up in the snow.

Holes all the way up the pine tree

Holes all the way up the pine tree

Acorns stored in pine tree holes

Acorns stored in pine tree holes

 

 

Benner Creek CG wasn’t on the Lassen Forest website and we saw it on Google Maps and decided to take a chance that it was still open.  It was open but probably doesn’t see a lot of traffic – the eight or nine sites are not really marked and there are trees down all over the facility.  It was only six miles out of Chester so easy to get to and definitely worth checking out.  Very quiet and very little use – $0 charge.

Small tight sites - most looked like they haven't been used recently

Small tight sites – most looked like they haven’t been used recently

The bathrooms were really unusable - very very unkempt

The bathrooms were really unusable – very very unkempt

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