By Eileen Majors


Photos by Joel Rathje

Photos by Joel Rathje


With a fall deadline ahead of me, I chose the coolness of an early August morning to go looking for “Grandmother Apple Tree”. I had seen this giant wild apple tree several years before on a hike with the girls. I headed out to Susanville Ranch Park, home to Grandmother herself, to also check out Susanville’s new, expanded trail system. It looked like she was bound to bear plenty of fall fruit. One look will tell you how this tree got her name. The first time I saw the tree loaded with bright red apples, it fondly reminded me of the talking apple tree in The Wizard of Oz. I was a bit too early to catch those apples in full size and color but I did get lucky running into Joel Rathje, Lassen County Trails Coordinator. He pointed out the two color brochures available at the kiosk heading into the trail entrance near Meadowview Drive in Susanville. He showed us the map outlining the new trail additions as he pointed out the two peaks at either end of the top trail. He told us the views are incredible

We ventured onto the trail, soon to hear sounds of gentle waters from Bagwell creek. Several little bridges and secluded spots provided the opportunity to cool off with a splash of fresh stream water before we continued up towards the newest trails. The brochure shows a photo of amazing fall color looking across Susanville from the top of the trail to Diamond Mountain. I did not make it to the top but I have seen the eruption of fall on Susanville’s hillside and can only imagine such a spectacular view from peak to peak. Now there is no reason not to see it for myself. An upper parking lot on the trail brings you closer to the Northern trails and provides equestrian access.

While each season takes on its own definite beauty at Susanville Ranch Park, fall is especially gorgeous and appearing now. What better time is there than now to enjoy a hike or bike ride amid the beauty and serenity of this fabulous trail system. Rathje told us what a great time the fat tire riders are having on the new section of trail. Several loops offer riding up to a 5,520 foot elevation. Horseback riding is also available on the trail which runs along Paiute Creek and Bagwell Creek in Susanville. Fall is a spectacular time to take in the views on 14 miles of the newest Northern Trails and all of the trails for that matter.

Joel Rathje, Trails Coordinator for Lassen County said, “We are very lucky to have such a large trail system so close to town. From Main Street, it is a five minute bike ride to the main trail head. In minutes, a person can feel like they are immersed in wilderness.” The 8 miles of original trails were built or already existing from historical use during the 1980’s. Lassen Land and Trails Trust was heavily involved in the original trail layout and construction. The 14 miles of new trails were planned and designed by Joel Rathje and constructed by Trailscape, Inc. The new trails, he told us, are more challenging, winding high up into the hills above the big “L” you see on the hillside.

Susanville is an excellent destination for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The Susanville Ranch Park Trail system is minutes from the nationally acclaimed Bizz Johnson Trail. Users can stay in local hotels and ride or walk to shops and dining while taking advantage of the secluded and quiet beauty of the hillsides of Lassen County.