NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Hwy. 32 East- Chico to Lake Almanor (Almost)

A Trout Fisherman's Secret

This is a short stretch of road but one with virtues- for much of it's length it hugs Deer Creek, a well regarded trout stream nestled in a pretty forest with three Forest Service campgrounds. What's not to like? There's more. It is a logical way to get to Lake Almanor, or Lassen Volcanic National Park. Or both. Or back from there. When the road to a nice place is also nice you've got a winning combination. 

Tecnically, the western terminus is the city of Orland on Interstate 5 south of Red Bluff. Orland to Chico has little to recommend it, as is the case from Chico until the road enters Lassen National Forest. From there until it ends at the intersection of Hwy. 89 you've got a nice ride and if you fish, a nice diversion. From there you can head east to Lake Almanor or north to Lassen. Or set up camp and contemplate the life of a vagabond.

A word about the fishing. Parts of the creek near the campgrounds are stocked and the fish may be kept. There is a section near a fish ladder far downstream where fishing is prohibited. You had better assume that until you get to a campground the fishing is catch-and-release. When in doubt check with DFG. There is excellent access for much of the creek including trails and even from the campgrounds.

A tip. If you are traveling Hwy. 32 the other way, from Hwy. 89 to Orland, it's a short hop to Black Butte Lake. It's a warm weather lake managed by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers. We sometimes use it as a layover point on the way back to the Bay Area. It's a pleasant spot to spend a night in a still rural location before heading back to civilization. Clink the link for more info.

Elam Campground

Location: On Deer Creek on Hwy. 32 in Lassen National Forest.

Attraction: A pretty spot in a national forest with access to Deer Creek. Trout are stocked in late spring/ early summer.

Campsite Description: 11 sites for tents or RV's to 30 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, pit toilets and potable water. Leashed pets okay.

Season: Mid-April- October, weather permitting.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $14   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 4,600 feet
Toilets Pit   Supplies None nearby

Information: Lassen National Forest, Almanor Ranger District. 530-258-2141. Forest Service Information Center in village of Chester on Lake Almanor.

Day Hikes in Area: Along creek.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Lassen National Forest.

Off-Road Opportunities in Area:

Alder Creek Campground

Location: Same as above.

Attraction: Same as above.

Campsite Description: A small site with 5 tent sites. Trailers and RV's are not recommended. Picnic tables, fire pits and pit toilets. No potable water. Leashed pets okay.

Season: Late March-early November, weather permitting. This campground is lower than Elam, at 3,900 feet.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $10   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,900 feet
Toilets Pit   Supplies None nearby

Information: Lassen National Forest, Almanor Ranger District. 530-258-2141. Forest Service Information Center in village of Chester on Lake Almanor.

Day Hikes in Area: Along creek.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Lassen National Forest.

Off-Road Opportunities in Area:

Potato Patch Campground

Location: Same as above.

Attraction: Same as above.

Campsite Description: 32 sites for tents or RV's to 27 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, potable water and pit toilets. Leashed pets okay.

Season: Early April- early November, weather permitting.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $14   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,400 feet
Toilets Pit   Supplies None nearby

Information: Lassen National Forest, Almanor Ranger District. 530-258-2141. Forest Service Information Center in village of Chester on Lake Almanor.

Day Hikes in Area: Along creek.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Lassen National Forest.

Off-Road Opportunities in Area:

-The End-