Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Castilleja lemmonii.
Castilleja lemmonii.

Penstemon rydbergii.
Penstemon rydbergii.

Phlox hoodii.
Phlox hoodii.

Pine Creek Valley

Forest: Lassen National Forest

District: Eagle Lake Ranger District

Description: Pine Creek Valley is a broad, open valley with seasonal streams approximately 20 miles northeast of Susanville, California. Variations in local topography and distance from streams have created a diverse mix of vegetation types and wildflowers. The valley contains sagebrush flats, streamside seasonal wetlands, seasonal ponds and marshes, and scattered yellow pine groves, each with a different assemblage of wildflowers. The best time for viewing wildflowers is May-early July. Wildflower displays start in the drier sagebrush flats soon after spring snowmelt and advance into seasonal wetlands as summer progresses. Conspicuous wildflowers include sand lily (Leucocrinum montanum), water-plantain buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius), Lemmon’s paintbrush (Castilleja lemmonii), carpet phlox (Phlox hoodii), and meadow beardtongue (Penstemon rydbergii). Over 100 plant species have been documented in Pine Creek Valley.

Safety First: Road #21 is muddy and slick during spring snowmelt and/or rain. Logging trucks are common, and other motorists frequently use the road to access Eagle Lake from Highway 44. Watch for cattle and deer. Please use extra caution on national forest roads, and park in established wide spots out of the traffic lane. There are no designated trails. To view and photograph wildflowers close-up, plan to walk cross-country.

Directions: A Lassen National Forest map is helpful, and can be purchased at local Forest Service offices or on the Lassen NF website. From the junction of Highways 36 and 44, which is five miles west of Susanville on Highway 36, drive 15-20 miles north on Highway 44 to a railroad track crossing. The railroad crossing is conspicuously marked with signs and overhead hazard lights. Approximately one-half mile beyond (north of) the railroad crossing, turn right (east) onto National Forest Road #21, a dirt road. (Note: This road is numbered “32N02” on local topographic maps.) Road #21 begins in mixed conifer forest; it arrives at the Pine Creek Valley in about three miles, and follows the valley for another 4-5 miles.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Lassen National Forest, Eagle Lake Ranger District.

Closest Town: Susanville, California.