The United States Congress designated the Thousand Lakes Wilderness (map
) in 1964 and it now has a total of 16,582 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Forest Service.
There may not be a thousand lakes here, but the exaggeration is understandable given the area's seven major bodies of crystalline water and myriad smaller ponds. They are sprinkled throughout an area of mountainous volcanic and glacial formations, rocky ravines, open meadows, and stands of lodgepole pine and red fir. The highest point in Lassen National Forest at 8,677 feet, Crater Peak presides over this small Wilderness and serves as a reminder of the glacial erosion that wore down Thousand Lakes Volcano to today's terrain. Near the base of the old volcano, you'll find the area's lowest point at 5,546 feet. Wildlife enthusiasts might see mule deer, black bear, pine marten, and pika, while bird-watchers train their binoculars on goshawks, owls, pileated woodpeckers, and Clark's nutcrackers.
Three trailheads give access to about 21 miles of maintained trails. This area will serve you well if you wish a short Wilderness trip, especially if you enjoy fishing. Many people already know this, and Thousand Lakes receives moderate human use, with trout anglers forming the biggest contingent. From the Bunchgrass Trailhead, you can cross south to north, a scenic six-mile path through the area with the greatest concentration of lakes, and out to the Cypress Trailhead. Snow usually melts by early June, just as the mosquitoes begin to hatch in thick swarms.