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The state and national parks throughout Northern California are some of our most visited destinations. From Lassen Volcanic National Park to Burney Falls and Castle Crags, there are so many fantastic parks to experience the beautiful outdoors of NorCal.
But sometimes, it’s the least visited park that turns out to bring the best experience to its visitors. In this NorCal destination, your likely to see more deer than people.
Probably NorCal’s best kept secret is the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, most likely due to its remote location in northeastern Shasta County and the fact that it can only be reached by boat. Sitting about an hour northeast of Redding, the area has about 13 miles of shoreline and three campsites with nearly 20 miles of accessible trails. If you’re willing to put in the work to get there, it’s worth the trek.
Named after the Achomawi (a band of the Pit River Indians) that inhabited the area for centuries, the park’s 5,930 acres is covered in jagged lava flow rocks and remains one of the nation’s largest systems of underwater springs in the U.S. The park was once a muskrat farm in the 1930’s, and the little critters can still be seen in the area, along with remnants of Native American fishing traps on the water.
In the language of the region’s Pit River Native Americans, “Ahjumawi” means where the waters come together, as the Tule River, Fall River, Big Lake, Ja She Creek and Lava Creek all convene in this park. The springs at the park comprise one of the largest fresh water spring systems in the country. They discharge into Big Lake, Horr Pond, and Ja She Creek, which together form the headwaters of the East Fork of the Tule River (a major tributary to the Fall River). It’s a popular destination for fishermen and the different waterways make a perfect home for the regions vast wildlife.
The trails in the area provide a great look into the wilderness of the Shasta Cascade, including a 5-mile hike on the Spatter Cone Loop Trail that will give you magnificent views of both Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak. While there are over twenty miles of park trails by which to explore this beautiful geographical wonder, please be advised that travel off the trails requires proper preparation and equipment.
Power boats are allowed in the water but not recommended. Most people choose to explore the area by kayak and there are plenty of rental shops in the area for visitors who don’t own one. Headwaters Adventure Company in Redding will rent you the kayak and rack for your car, and Eagle Eye’s Kayak Guide Service in McArthur has rentals and tours for groups as well.
While there’s a reason that some of the most popular outdoor destinations in NorCal get heavy foot traffic, it doesn’t always guarantee the best experience. If you’re looking to get away from people and into the remote wilderness, this might just be the place for you.
Here is the locations of the park:
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine