Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bizz Johnson National Recreational Trail

The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail is 25 miles in length as it follows the route of the old Fernley and Lassen Railroad line which was established in 1914 for transporting logs and milled lumber to and from the Westwood Mill. The mill closed in 1956, and in 1978, Southern Pacific Railroad received approval to discontinue use of the old rail line and the Bureau of Land Management spearheaded conversion of the corridor to a trail and named it for former California congressional representative Harold T. "Bizz" Johnson, who was instrumental in establishing the segment as a rails-to-trails conversion. 

The landscape on the west side is a combination of semi-arid canyon and upland forests of pine and fir as it  traverses old railed and existing forest roads the first 4.5 miles out of the Westwood trailhead which has a railroad station type kiosk and a 25-foot carved redwood statue of Paul Bunyan.  This photo pretty much sums up the western section which I biked because it was closest to my route from Lassen Volcanic National Park to Yosemite National Park.

As I biked, I kept noticing great places to camp, which is allowed.  Just bring your own water for the western segment.

The trail has four distinct seasons because of the high elevation location.  The trail begins at 4200' on the east side of the Sierra and Cascade Ranges in Susanville, climbs 1300' to a high point of 5500' at Westwood Junction then drops 400' to its terminus in Westwood at elevation 5100'.

For the first 16 miles out of Susanville, 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.  Next time I'll start there.

Hee's a map of the trail (click to enlarge)


Take Highway 36 to Westwood, turn north onto Lassen County Road A-21 and continue 3 miles to County Road 101 (just before the railroad tracks). Follow County Rd 101 a half mile until you reach Mason Station trailhead. There is ample parking at the station. You will see a large sign with trail brochures near a restroom and the trailhead. Follow the path from the trailhead for a quarter mile until you reach the railroad grade.

To reach the Susanville Depot, follow Highway 36, which becomes Main Street in Susanville. Continue on Main Street through Historic Uptown Susanville to Weatherlow Street, at the first stoplight at the base of the hill. Turn right on Weatherlow (which becomes Richmond Road) and continue a half mile to the Susanville Railroad Depot Trailhead Visitor Center. The trail begins at the depot, which has parking.

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