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Best Hiking Trails Around Chester, CA

There is no better way to enjoy the beauty of Plumas County than by exploring it first-hand and on foot. Whether you take a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike, you'll experience the magnificence of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges along an extensive system of hiking trails. Here's a look at some of the most accessible ones:

Dogs are welcome (leash preferred) on all National Forest hiking trails. Within Plumas-Eureka State Park, dogs are only allowed on the Grass Lake trail, and dogs are not allowed on hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, although they are welcome in the parking lots, roads and road shoulders, campgrounds and picnic areas.

About 80 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) stretch across Plumas County, with elevations ranging from 2,400 to 7,000 feet. This famous west coast trail, open to foot and horseback traffic only, encompasses a total of 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. The Plumas County section can be accessed six miles west of Chester, at Belden in the Feather River Canyon, at Bucks Summit on Bucks Lake Road, off Big Creek Road near Bucks Lake, along the Quincy/La Porte Road, and in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The communities of Chester and Quincy both welcome PCT hikers. Due to changes in the trail each year, the exact half-way point varies slightly, but is near Highway 36 just west of Chester.

Collins Pine Nature Trail

The Collins Pine Nature Trail in Chester can be accessed from the back of our property at Antlers Motel. Head over the Rec Center and the trailhead begins there. This trail offers a place to rest and view nature. The trail is about two miles of natural trail surfacing with 12 informational Observation Posts and a map that prompts users with forestry and geographic questions about nature and the surroundings.

The Collins Pine Nature Trail makes two loops through about fifty acres of second growth woodland with mixed evergreen and deciduous trees, grassy flood plain, channels and beaver ponds. The far end of the trail is six tenths of a mile from the park. There are four benches at places along the trail, and twelve numbered points at sites of special interest. A Points of Interest guide, available at the Collins Pine Museum and the Chamber of Commerce contains information and thought provoking questions for each numbered point.


Collins' long-standing commitment to land and resource stewardship demands that we:
Maintain the health of the total forest ecosystem;
Support the production of wood on a sustained, renewable basis; and
Provide social and economic benefits to the surrounding areas and communities.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is in northern California. It's rich in hydrothermal sites like Bumpass Hell, with its acres of bubbling mud pots. The summit of Lassen Peak Volcano offers views over the surrounding wilderness. Nearby, the Devastated Area is littered with lava rocks from its last eruption. A network of trails through forest and around several lakes connects with the Pacific Crest Trail in the north.

8 Best Trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park:
1. Cinder Cone Trail
2. Butte Lake Trail
3. Brokeoff Mountain Trail
4. Bumpass Hell Trail
5. Boiling Springs Lake and Devil's Kitchen Trail
6. Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes
7. Crystal Lake Trail
8. Manzanita Lake Trail

Hiking season generally occurs between June through October. The park receives up to 30 feet of snow each winter. Hiking trails can remain snow-covered into June and sometimes July. Trails are not plowed or shoveled during the winter, and most likely will require snowshoes or skis.

Bumpass Hell Trail

Bumpass Hell is the largest of the eight hydrothermal area in the park. The Bumpass Hell Trail provides access to the 16-acre basin of plopping mud pots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents.

  • Start: Bumpass Hell parking area, 7 miles from the Southwest Entrance
    Round-trip Distance: 3 miles
    Round-trip Time: 2 hours
    Terrain: Gradual climb first mile then 200-foot descent into basin
    Elevation: 8,200 - 8,400 feet
    Trail Surface: Packed gravel
    Width: 48" to basin overlook; trails into basin are narrow
    Season: Approximately June through October


Bumpass Hell Trail provides access to the largest hydrothermal area in the park. The trail is open in the summer and fall only. Parking for this popular trail is limited and is often full mid-morning to early afternoon, especially on weekends. The three-mile, round-trip hike is easy to moderate in difficulty and is popular with hikers of all ages. Vault toilets are available only at the trailhead, there are no restrooms on the trail or in the basin. Pets are not permitted on any park trails.

Lake Almanor Basin

With miles of shoreline trails and forested logging roads, the Lake Almanor Basin is a hiker's paradise. The Basin is also close to magnificent hikes within Lassen Volcanic National Park and the nearby Caribou Wilderness Area in the Lassen National Forest. Following are some of the most popular hikes in this and surrounding areas.

8 Best Trails in Lake Almanor Basin:
1. Lake Almanor Recreation Trail
2. Humbug Summit to Humboldt Peak
3. Juniper Lake/Mt. Harkness Trail
4. Domingo Springs Trail
5. Devil's Kitchen
6. Boiling Spring Lake
7. King Creek Cascades and Fall
8. Pacific Crest Trail

Lake Almanor is the largest lake in Plumas County with 52 miles of shoreline, two public boat launches, three full service marinas with boat rentals and gas. The summer temperature of the water makes it ideal for swimming, wake boarding, kayaking and wave runners.

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is a treasured pathway through some of the most outstanding scenic terrain in the United States. The Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. About 75 miles extends across the Plumas National Forest, crossing two major canyons, (the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Feather River). Elevations range from 2400 to 7000 feet. Due to snow at the higher elevations it is usually mid-June before it is feasible to hike in this area. Whether you decide to only hike a short distance of the trail or tackle the entire 2,650 miles, you will experience some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States.

 Chester, California is the unofficial midpoint of the PCT, and Antlers Motel is a quick eight mile drive to and from the trailhead. 


The Plumas National Forest, Feather River Ranger District is home to a 32-mile segment of the internationally renowned Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This stretch of the PCT runs from Fowler Peak south to Gibsonville Road.

Feather Falls Scenic Trail

Don't leave your camera behind. Feather Falls National Scenic Trail offers you an incredible view of Bald Rock Dome, Bald Rock Canyon, and the 640-foot waterfall, Feather Falls.

The trail to the falls forks about a quarter of a mile down the path. The lower trail to the left is shorter at about 3.5 miles, but more difficult due to occasionally steep elevation changes. This trail is primarily downhill to the falls three quarters of the way. The final quarter is primarily uphill. The upper trail to the right is about 4.5 miles and makes the trip to the falls much more gradually. The trails join again just before the final three quarters of a mile climb to the Feather Falls overlook.

Mileage: 9 mile loop to Falls and return
Elevation Change: 2460 feet to 1600 feet
Difficulty: (moderate) upper trail 4.5mi
                   (strenuous) lower trail 3.5mi
Use Level: moderate to heavy

Allow a minimum of four to five hours to hike the nine-mile loop. Take plenty of water. Safety fences near the falls are there for your protection, do not climb over them.

Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail

Following the old Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific railroad, the trail winds 25.4 miles from Susanville, California to Mason Station. For the first 16 miles, the trail follows the Susan River. As it winds through the rugged Susan River Canyon, the trail crosses the river 12 times on bridges and trestles and passes through two tunnels.
The landscape is a combination of semi-arid canyon and upland forests of pine and fir. Most of the trail traverses the Susan River Canyon with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and reminders of the railroad and logging days of the past. The remarkable autumn colors and scenery along the Bizz Johnson Trail earned it one of eight feature spots on the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy's 1997 "Fall Foliage on the Web" rail-trails guide.

The Lassen Wolf Pack Near Westwood:
This hearty wolf pack can be seen near Westwood. Survivors of the Dixie Fire, this pack is wild and brave. Paw prints have been found the size of an adult hand. If you do see these amazing creatures on your hike, please stay as far from them as possible, and respect these amazing wolves.

There are no fees required. Recreation opportunities include: Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding (for those who own or bring their own), Fishing, Swimming, Cross-country skiing, Snowmobile riding (west of Devils Corral only), Wildflower viewing, Wildlife viewing, Bird watching and Dog walking.
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Hopefully, this guide has helped you plan your hiking vacation out to some extent. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer, a weekend warrior hiker, or a "noobie", hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy nature and feel and smell life all around you - especially if you come with a group of friends and family!

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