Located within the city limits of Susanville, California.
In 1978, Southern Pacific Railroad abandoned most of the old Fernley and Lassen Railroad branch line, which had carried lumber and passengers from 1914 until operations ended in 1956. BLM spearheaded the “rails-to-trails” conversion of the old railroad grade with the support of former Congressman Harold T. “Bizz” Johnson, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1958-1980. Today, the 30-mile trail is used by hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and cross-country skiers. For the first 16 miles, the trail follows the Susan River. As it winds through the rugged Susan River Canyon, the trail crosses the river 12 times on bridges and trestles and passes through two tunnels.
The landscape is a combination of semi-arid canyon and upland forests of pine and firs. The trail has four distinct
seasons because of the high altitude.
In Susanville, follow State Highway 36 (Main Street) to Weatherlow Street. Turn south on Weatherlow, which
becomes Richmond Road, and continue 0.5 mile to Susanville Railroad Depot Trailhead Visitor Center. The trail
begins at the depot (601 Richmond Road).
Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, fishing, wildflower viewing, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, historic site, and interpretive programs.
The trail winds through three bioregions —the Great Basin, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Range—featuring landscapes ranging from high desert to grasslands to oak woodlands, as well as dense cedar and pine forests. Many birds are attracted to the river, including belted kingfishers, hooded orioles, canyon wrens, and several types of birds of prey.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
The 6-mile segment from Devil’s Corral trailhead (7 miles west of Susanville on State Highway 36) to Hobo Camp, off Richmond Road in Susanville, is wheelchair-accessible. This is the most scenic part of the trail and includes two tunnels and eight bridges.
Camping and Lodging
Primitive camping is permitted along the trail on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands. There is a 7-day camping limit between trailheads unless otherwise posted. The undeveloped, drive-in Goumaz Campground, with five sites, is on U.S. Forest Service land between the trail and the Susan River. (Take State Highway 44 approximately 10 miles northwest of Susanville. Turn south on Forest Road 30N03 and follow this dirt road 3 miles to the campground. The road is not suitable for passenger cars.) No camping is
allowed at or within 1 mile of the Hobo Camp picnic area or the Devil’s Corral trailhead, unless authorized. Camping is prohibited along South Side Road within the Susan River Canyon west of Hobo Camp. Lodging is available in Susanville, Westwood (22 miles west of Susanville on State Highway 36), and the surrounding area. For a list of area lodging, call the Lassen County Chamber of Commerce, (530) 257-4323.
Food and Supplies
No food or supplies are available on-site. Water sources along the trail are not safe to drink. Restaurants, groceries, and supplies are available in Susanville and Chester, about 35 miles west on State Highway 36.
No first aid is available on-site. The nearest hospitals are located in Susanville and Chester.
The remarkable autumn colors and scenery along the Bizz Johnson Trail earned it 1 of 12 feature spots on the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy’s 2002 “Fall Foliage on the Web” rail-trails guide. Each year in early fall, visitors and residents flock to the Susanville Depot for the Rails to Trails Festival. Featured events at the depot and along the trail include railroad handcar rides and races, mountain bike rides, walks, barbecues, chili cook-offs, live music, and children’s activities.
BLM - Eagle Lake Field Office
2950 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130