Two people stand on a grassy hillside in the King Range Wilderness, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Wildhorses at Sand Creek Barrel Springs Byway at sunset.  Photo by Laurie Sada Upper Wall Canyon creek.  Photo by B. Parrott Windmill at Sunset in Surprise Valley Sunset reflection on Upper Lake in Surprise Valley.
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Hiking Logo  Hiking and Backpacking 

The best way to see parts of the Surprise Field Office area's beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife and wide open spaces is on foot.  There are no constructed hiking trails in the Surprise Field area however, there are many opportunities for cross country hiking and hiking along two-track roads.  If you are used to hiking on constructed trails, be sure to budget extra time to hike similar distances cross country. Also be sure to pack extra water, since springs and water sources are not always reliable.

The temperatures in the high desert can vary widely and change rapidly all months of the year, so bring clothing and supplies for any conditions. Be sure to stop by the Surprise Field Office before starting your trip to get current road conditions, wildland fire conditions, maps and any seasonal information. 

  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

Please see our Desert Visitors Guide for preparedness tips. 

Hiking Tips 

  • Watch the weather! Many roads that access trails become impassable when wet!
  • Bring plenty of food and water. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  • Wear sturdy hiking gear and layer your clothing for rapid weather changes.
  • Minimize wildlife disturbance and protect water quality by camping at least 200 feet from streams.
  • Use a backpack stove instead of building a fire.
  • Human waste and toilet paper should be buried in a small “cathole” (six to eight inches deep and at least 200 feet from a water source).
  • Know your own hiking and navigation skills. 
  • Bring a basic first aid kit.
  • Winter snow and summer heat may make the hikes impossible.
  • Understand navigation with and without GPS and know how to navigate by map. Deep canyons will often render GPS useless.
  • Pack out what you pack in.
  • Leave No Trace. Keep these beautiful areas wild for future visitors!

 Explore Nearby

Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Modoc National Forest