The Modoc National Forest in northeastern California comes from President Theodore Roosevelt's initial efforts to preserve environmentally fragile lands in the West. Responding to the pleas of local farmers, Roosevelt declared the land a forest reserve, which eventually became a national forest. The entire 1,654,392-acre area sits above 4,000 feet in elevation, with some peaks reaching over 9,000 feet. Sitting between the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, this forest only receives 13 inches of precipitation per year, with most of that being snow. Because of its steep elevation changes, the forest includes many varieties of trees. While the citizens of Alturas, CA, claim the forest as theirs, it is not uncommon for people to travel from San Francisco and Sacramento to hike the forest's trails.
The Glass Mountain Trail is an in-and-out pathway that offers scenic views while changing elevation by 1,053 feet. Pines tower over an immense amount of obsidian that dots the trail—hence the name Glass Mountain. At the peak of the grade, visitors enjoy an intense panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Length: 4.9 miles
Most people wait until the winter months to use this trail. In the summer, the trek seems long, but it is reduced significantly in the winter by the opportunity to use skis when traveling back down the mountain, saving considerable time. The view of Medicine Lake from the summit of the mountain is worth the trip.
Length: 13.3 miles
Though the Modoc Line Rail Trail is long, it is an easy hike that is relatively level with gentle grades up and down. The trail wanders through some of the most breathtaking rangeland in northeastern California. Visitors can expect to see many wildlife species, including pronghorn antelope. The views from the summit of the Skedaddle and Warner mountain ranges are spectacular.
Length: 84.7 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
The Crane Mountain National Recreation Trail begins in Modoc National Forest and travels almost due north into Oregon. Throughout the hike, the pathway offers views of Goose Lake Valley, which shares a lake on both sides of the California-Oregon border. The highest point is at 8,347 feet on the summit of Crane Mountain, which contributes views of Mount Shasta to the west and the high desert to the east.
Length: 37.5 miles
The Cedar Creek Trail offers two trailheads that provide different levels of intensity over the same pathway. The upper trailhead leads to a leisurely downhill hike that drops by 790 feet over a three-mile course. The lower trailhead covers the same ground, but the uphill climb is more strenuous. During the winter months, the upper trailhead offers an excellent snowboarding experience.
Length: 3 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
Fishing is one of the many activities that visitors enjoy in the Modoc National Forest. With hundreds of streams and over 30 lakes and ponds, the forest greets anglers with stocked fish at almost every turn. The elusive trout is the favorite fish to pursue in these parts.
Geocaching is allowed in the Modoc National Forest, but regulations are strict because of the environment's fragility. Caches must be located within 30 feet of an established trail, and you must apply for permission to establish your cache.
There is little light pollution, with the nearest community being 30 miles away and the high elevations that the Modoc National Forest occupies. The skies offer some of the best stargazing in the country. At almost any location inside this forest, the night sky provides a spectacular display.
Address: 225 West 8th Street, Alturas, CA 96101
Fee: Entry fee $0
Modoc National Forest is a favorite place to visit for many city dwellers. It is a chance to get away from the daily urban grind and restore equilibrium through a close encounter with nature, and an RV is the perfect choice to visit Modoc National Forest for a two-week family vacation. RVs give you the chance to move quickly from one stopping point to another in comfort. A visit to this forest develops memories that stick with you for the rest of your life.