Bear Camp Trail - 3.63 miles - Upper portion from Bear Camp downward is narrow and flat. Receives heavy soil erosion onto trail. Most of trail is in timber. Only trail from which Natural Bridge can be seen. Very little water or camping along trail Location of Trailhead 1: Latitude 41.2464, Longitude -120.1493
Location of Trailhead 2: Latitude 41.2364, Longitude -120.1453.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION The end of May usually kicks off the season.
For those who are looking forward to their first hike of the season into the South Warner Wilderness, all trailheads are open and accessible by vehicle. Many of the Wilderness trails are accessible while others are still snowbound or have not been cleared of fallen trees. The trail from Mill Creek campground to Mill Creek Falls and around Clear Lake has been cleared of fallen trees and the lake is completely melted out. The trail into Pine Creek Basin has lots of snow still on it but the lakes and meadows in the basin are completely melted as of this time. From Soup Springs campground the trail over the top and into Mill Creek Meadows is completely melted out with only one tree across it.
The Rainbow, Needles and Middle Fork of Davis Creek obsidian mines are accessible. Permits to collect obsidian are available at Davis Creek Mercantile or any of the Modoc NF district or headquarters offices.
Be prepared for winter conditions when visiting these areas and use extreme caution. Weather can change suddenly, bringing on storms with little or no warning. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Take plenty of water and appropriate clothing.
Please report any road or trail damage to a Modoc NF office. Campfire permits are required and can be obtained at ranger district offices and Forest headquarters.
For more information, and to obtain your free campfire permit, visit one of the following locations: Big Valley Ranger District, 500 Main Street, Adin, phone 530 299-3215; Warner Mountain Ranger District, 385 Wallace Street, Cedarville, 530 279-6116; Doublehead Ranger District, Highway 129, Tulelake, phone 530 667-2246 or Devil's Garden Ranger District / Forest Headquarters, Highway 299, Alturas, 530 233-5811.
You Can Help The Trails - While traveling in the South Warner Wilderness, please stay on the trails. Cutting across switchbacks and trampling meadows can cause erosion and damage the vegetation. If snow is encountered, travel across the snow and rocks as much as possible. High mountain plants and soils are especially susceptible to damage during thaws.
If traveling a route without trails, groups should spread out rather than walking single file. If travelers with horses are encountered, move off the trail at least 8 feet on the downhill side and let them pass. Horses are easily frightened by backpack equipment.
Trails are a key part of many outdoor recreation experiences, but are often taken for granted. You can help keep trails open and safe by reporting trail conditions. You can also pick up any litter along your way in order to make it beautiful for the next traveler. Another way to help is to become involved with the Adopt-a-Trail program, in which interested clubs or organizations take on volunteer maintenance responsibility for a portion of a trail. Contact a local Forest Service office to become involved
For an overall wilderness experience, travelers can make an entire loop from Pepperdine to Patterson using the east side trail system one way and the west side trail system on the return trip. This loop may take seven days or longer to complete, covers over 50 miles of trail, and seldom retraces an area. While the west trail is fairly flat, the east trail is rather steep.
The Summit Trail runs 27 miles from Pepperdine in the north, to Patterson Meadow just off the southern border of the Wilderness. It approaches the top of Squaw Peak, passes by Patterson Lake, skirts the western flank of Eagle Peak, then follows the 8,000 foot ridge of the Warner Mountains for more than 15 miles. The scenery is magnificent! Numerous spur trails lead to gleaming glacial lakes and grassy meadows. The cool mountain weather usually inhibits the mosquito population, but insect repellent is recommended.
Combinations of trailheads and trails can provide from 5 to 70 miles loops with little or no area covered twice. See the Trailheads and Trails brochure and the Wilderness map for specific information. The South Warner Wilderness map shows length and difficulty level for each trail. It is advisable to also carry USGS topographical maps of the area.
Summit Trail - 22.4 miles - Relatively flat, open large meadows to the west. Trail is windswept in bad weather. Beautiful view to the west and occasionally to the east. Water is available but not as abundant as Owl Creek Trail. Eagle Pass to Patterson Lake not much water. Pepperdine to Patterson Lake takes 4-5 hours.
Squaw Peak Trail - 5.86 miles - Short cut from Pepperdine to Owl Creek Trail without going to Patterson Lake. Trail generally goes downhill into Cottonwood Creek. Easy trail to hike. Pepperdine to Owl Creek is 4 hours.
Upper Cottonwood Trail - 1 mile - Connects Summit and Owl Creek Trails. Many switchbacks, fairly steep in spots. Good view of Devil's Knob from trail. Lower portion is abandoned towards Forest Boundary.
Owl Creek Trail - 15.23 miles - Rugged broken topography intersects trail. Much up and down terrain. Plenty of water. Trail goes from basin to basin. Trail runs down over the east side of the rim, so most views are eastward. Linderman Lake, Owl Creek Basin, Raider Basin and Eagle Basin are points of interest. Access from Emerson, Summit or Squaw Peak Trails. Location of Trailhead 1: Latitude 41.4433, Longitude -120.2136
Location of Trailhead 2: Latitude 41.3268, Longitude -120.1392
Mill Creek Trail - 8.36 miles - Fairly flat along Mill Creek until close to Poison Flat. Water and campsites available along trail. Fishing is good. Easy access from Soup Springs Trailhead and Campground which has a corral and hitching post.
Pine Creek Basin Trail - 4.64 miles - Uphill from entry point, runs along the creek at the bottom then opens into a big basin about halfway up. A few small ponds along the trail. Fishing is fair. Entry point to Patterson Lake takes 4-5 hours. Location of Trailhead: Latitude 41.3584, Longitude -120.2792
Slide Creek Trail - 1.85 miles - Connects Mill Creek to Summit Trail. Uphill. Plenty of water and camping. Not used much.
Poison Flat Trail - 5.91 miles - Uphill and ties into East Creek Trail. Very steep to Summit Trail. Located in timber and edge of meadows. Not much water or campsites near the top. Location of Trailhead: Latitude 41.266, Longitude -120.2181
East Creek Trail - 5.58 miles - Downhill from entry point. Heavy timber, lots of water, not many campsites. Good fishing in East Creek. Location of Trailhead 1: Latitude 41.2403, Longitude -120.2818
Location of Trailhead 2: Latitude 41.2005, Longitude -120.2007
North Emerson Trail - 4.37 miles - Steep with lots of switchbacks. Timbered trail except near top by North Emerson Lake. Fishing poor in North Emerson Lake. Limited campsites near trail, access to Natural Bridge. Ties in with Owl Creek and Summit Trails. Campground to North Emerson Lake takes 3 hours.
South Emerson Trail - 1.5 miles - Heavy timber throughout trail length. Access to South Emerson Lake, but trail is not defined. Fairly flat, slightly downhill to the southeast. Location of Trailhead: Latitude 41.2626, Longitude -120.1397