Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Old growth douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Old growth douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

Mountain dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Mountain dogwood (Cornus nuttallii).

Clustered lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium fasciculatum)
Clustered lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium fasciculatum).

Queen cup (Clintonia uniflora)
Queen cup (Clintonia uniflora).

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
Twinflower (Linnaea borealis).

Boreal bog orchid (Platanthera leucostachys)
Boreal bog orchid (Platanthera leucostachys).

Valley Creek Botanical Special Interest Area

Forest: Plumas National Forest

District: Feather River Ranger District

Description: The Valley Creek Botanical Special Interest Area contains one of the few remaining examples of Sierra Nevada mixed conifer old growth forest in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is located on the Plumas National Forest in southern Plumas County, at an elevation of 4500 to 5000 feet. Bob Cermak, a Forest Service District Ranger in the 1960s, recognized its unique beauty and ecological value, and began the process of designating it as a Special Interest Area. His vision was realized in 1961, when it was officially preserved. In 2011, a 2.5-mile hiking trail was completed, providing access for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The trail is gentle with a few moderately steep sections.

The old growth Douglas-fir and Sugar pine provide habitat for many local wildlife species, including the sensitive California spotted owl and Northern goshawk. They also provide dwellings for small mammals. Valley Creek, which runs through the Special Interest Area, has been recognized as habitat for the sensitive foothill yellow-legged frog and the Federally Threatened red-legged frog.

Viewing: In addition to old growth trees, mountain dogwood is prolific throughout the lower slopes of the valley and can provide a brilliant white floral display in May and showy fall color in October. Along the trail, many local wildflowers can be seen. Twinflower is abundant in many places along the trail, although it is uncommon in the region. Other showy species include Pacific starflower, leafy lousewort, several species of violet, purple fawn lily, queen cup, Hooker’s fairy bells, purple fritillary, leopard lily, twisted stalk, clustered lady’s-slipper, rattlesnake plantain, broadleaf twayblade, spotted coral root, and boreal bog orchid. In a few places along the creek, rare aquatic lichen can sometimes be seen.

Safety: This is a remote area. Please be sure to carry plenty of water, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Please stay on the trail.

Directions: Valley Creek is located on the American House Quadrangle, Township 21N, Range 8E, Section 24 and Range 9 E, Section 19. From the town of La Porte, travel west along the La Porte road 3.5 miles to the junction with Forest Service Road 21N51. Turn right, and drive approximately 1/4 mile to a small trailhead parking area on the left. The loop trial is nearly 2 miles in length.

Ownership: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, Plumas National Forest, Feather River Ranger District.

Closest Town with Services: La Porte, California.