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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

California's Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park

In the shadow of magnificent Mt. Shasta lies a relic of ancient times.

by: Jane Little

PAGE 1 2

Location:
Ahjumawi is in northern California, 190 miles north of Sacramento and 65 miles northeast of Redding. Fall River Mills is 7 miles to the southwest. Ahjumawi is the northeastern-most unit of the California State Park system.

Contact Information:
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park Rt. 1 Box 1260 Burney, CA 96013 (916) 335-2777

Getting There:
From Sacramento take I-5 north to CA 299 east. In the town of McArthur turn north onto Main Street and drive past the Intermountain Fairgrounds. After crossing over a canal, 3 miles of dirt road will lead to McArthur's Swamp (also know as "Rat Farm"), a public boat launch maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Seasonal Information:
Ahjumawi is open year-round. Summer can be hot (mid-80s to 100 degrees F). In winter, temperatures range from the teens to the 40s.

Wildlife:
Great blue herons stalk the shallow waters beside the tules, while white pelicans preen on a mud spit. Inland, look for deer, marmots, and signs of black bears among the ponderosa pines.

Insects:
Ticks are abundant in spring and early summer. Mosquitoes are voracious.

Plant Life:
Oak, redbud, and mountain mahogany blaze in a rich display of October reds and golds. Pine and juniper forests and slopes of rabbit brush and sagebrush are also part of the great variey of vegetation in the area.

Facilities:
Camping is allowed only in designated areas. Nine Environmental Campsites operate on a first come, first served basis. There are three, each located near Ja She Creek, Crystal Springs, and the north shore of Horr Pond. Pit toilets are located nearby and water is available from the many springs, but it must be purified.

Parking:
Park at the "Rat Farm" boat dock.

Permits:
Overnight camping fee is $7.

Policies:

  • Fire is permitted only within rings.
  • Hunting is prohibited.
  • Fishing is permitted in specific seasons ~ check with park for details.
  • Dogs are prohibited, except on leash on park trails and roads.

Hazards:

  • Ahjumawi is wilderness consisting mainly of extremely rugged lava rock, so wear sturdy shoes for travel on the lava flows.
  • Dress for extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • Beware of swarming mosquitoes, ticks, and rattlesnakes.
  • Leave your pets at home. Domestic pets have a difficult time adjusting to the wild nature of the park.
  • Be sure someone knows your itinerary.

Leave No Trace: Camp only in designated areas.

Maps: A free map and brochure are available from McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

Other Trip Options: Visit McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, which is located on CA 89 approximately 21 miles by highway from McArthur.


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