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Lava Springs, Spatter Cone Loop Trails

From Big Lake Landing Site to Crystal Springs is 4.2 miles round trip; \
Spatter Cone Trail is 5 mile loop

Here the California landscape is revealed at its most elemental level: fire in the form of black volcanic basalt, and water in many forms—lakes, rivers, creeks and springs.

Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, located on the edge of the Modoc Plateau in the Fall River Valley in northeastern Shasta County, may very well be the most remote of California’s 300 state parks. Ahjumawi is likely to remain in obscurity because visitors must boat over (and cannot drive to) the park.

While Ahjumawi is difficult to find, difficult to visit, and even difficult to pronounce (Ah-joo-maw-we), it’s nevertheless easy to admire. Imagine a classic California Cascade range postcard. Then add water, lots of it. Ahjumawi is a particular lure for canoeists, who can paddle many miles of interconnected waterways.

Hikers discover the area’s obvious volcanic origins from 20 miles of park trails. Paths lead past basalt outcroppings, lava tubes, cold springs bubbling up at the edge of lava fields, and even a spatter cone.

However intriguing, mixing and mingling with the lava is only part of the Ahjumawi hiking experience. Trails explore a
jumble of environments (located in close proximity to one another) including a soggy, tule-fringed marsh, hot and dry brush, wildflower-strewn hillsides and ponderosa pine forests.

Geologists believe that most of the lava in the park originated from nearby Timbered Crater, a small volcanic summit that last flowed lava Ahjumawi’s way about 2,000 years ago (relatively recently in geologic time).

The park is named for the native Ahjumawi, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. Ahjumawi (“where the waters come together”) fishermen have constructed stone fish traps in the shallows since prehistoric times. The tribe still maintains traps along the park’s shoreline

Migratory birds flock to the chain of lakes comprising the park’s southern boundary. Gaggles of geese, grebes and ducks nest here in summer. White pelicans, great blue herons bald eagles and sandhill cranes are among the larger birds commonly sighted in the park.

The park’s animal inhabitants include the coyote, porcupine, squirrel and yellow-bellied marmot.

The park is mostly BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat). Call the park to inquire about any boat rental possibilities. Sometimes local businesses rent watercraft.

The hiking experience varies greatly by one’s choice of boat landings. If you leave from Rat Farm Launch and boat over to near the park campground at Horr Pond, you’ll land about in the middle of the park’s trail system.

Lava Springs Trail is the lakeshore path. Hike west from the Horr Pond Camp to Crystal Springs Camp (2.4 miles round trip) or head east on an even more remote length of shoreline trail.

Spatter Cone Loop Trail (4.8 miles) tours the park’s lava flows, then visits a lava tube and its namesake spatter cone.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.