Pedaling our day away! Friday, the last day in May

Ever since Jimmy and I read about this bike trail, we’ve wanted to get our wheels rolling on it.  So, coming up this-a-way is a destination in itself.  The 25.4 mile Bizz Johnson Bike Trail is in northeastern California, along the Susan River in Lassen County; it’s part of the old Southern Pacific railroad.  The morning started off pretty cool at 40F, but we figured the day would warm as the sun rose, and I believe the temp got up to 75 or so.  The sky was one of those deep, clear blue that makes you happy to be alive and outside.

Our plan had been to ride from Mason Station to the Susanville Depot, until a local outfitter in Chester suggested we park Smartie sort of in the middle at Devils Corral, and ride in either direction.  I wish we’d stuck to our original idea and ridden the whole trail one way (basically downhill) from Mason Station to Susanville and caught the bus back (really).  Instead, we rode both directions, but from Devils Corral to Susanville we scarcely needed to pedal at all, but we sure knew about the uphill return!  We continued on toward Mason Station, but tired of the uphill climb, so we got off our bikes and hiked around by the river, which was fun to do.  We rode 17 miles today, half downhill, half uphill, but the scenery was so spectacular, we enjoyed every minute.  

The main trail head is at the old Railroad Depot in Susanville, CA.  Rail line dates from the early 1900's.

Wowzers!  Saw this colorful Western Tanager in the very first mile.

This area is rife with evidence of volcanic activity.  Columnar basalt cliffs were neat to look at.
The cliffs and gorge of the Susan River flank the western limits of the Volcanic Scenic Legacy Byway.

This trail winds through the rugged Susan River Canyon, and  crosses the river 12 times on bridges and trestles and passes through two tunnels.

Neither tunnel was overly long, but both were massive structures... and spooky-dark and nice 'n cool.

The Susan River may not have a lot of water, but it moves swiftly on its downhill run.

Two fly-fishermen were trying their luck at catch and release in the river. 

Cute l'il California quail, posing on a rock.  We heard them calling to each other.

This is the newest Devils Corral trestle, finished in 2010.  A fire destroyed the eastern 90' of the bridge in 2000 and for the next ten yrs, the railroad trestle bridge remained unused (duh!).  This new one is terrific.  Jimmy in the white shirt is waving!

 Wildflowers flourished along our route, esp yellow-flowering Heartleaf arnica and "Mule's ears," as well as purple Penstamon and Scarlet gilia.

The landscape is a combination of semi-arid canyon and upland forests of pine and fir.  We rode within sight and sound of the river nearly the whole distance, sometimes squeezed between narrow lava formations, other times thru slender meadows. Cottonwoods lined the bottoms and were beginning to shed their "cotton."  It looked like fluffy snow drifting overhead - cool beans!

 Off the bikes and on to explore a mesa above the river.  We spotted a ton o' rusty old tin cans, some thick pottery shards, and (of course) broken glass.  Could've been a railroad camp or a logging camp?  This is my new bike shirt.

And on the drive home to Tergel in Chester, this gorgeous vista of Mt Lassen towering above beautiful Lake Almanor presented itself.

This is the second day in a row we've seen this 10,457 ft mountain (dormant volcano), so we've decided that tomorrow we'll drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park.


  1. I would have loved the downhill portion of the ride. The up hill? Not so much...

  2. Nice new bike shirt!


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