Chaos Crags

Shasta, California 96087

Chaos Crags

Chaos Crags Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Roughly 1,000 years ago, lava was extruded from Lassen Peak’s northern flank. Too viscous to flow downhill, it piled up as giant domes of solid rock covered in loose rubble— Chaos Crags. A minor explosion about 300 years ago along Chaos Crags’ northwestern slope triggered a huge landslide that traveled more than 2 miles to dam Manzanita Creek and form Manzanita Lake"

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Lassen Volcanic National Park (Wilderness Press)
Mike White
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"The journey to the Chaos Crags is a more challenging route for intermediate and advanced snowshoers (the Park Service does not recommend this route for skiers). Climbing through a light forest requiring a bit of navigation, the journey ultimately leads out into more open terrain and onto a ridge with a marvelous, up-close view of the rugged Chaos Crags."

Chaos Crags Trip Reports

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The trail upstream from Black Rock is lovely (wear shoes that can get wet and dry out--you muck through springs)and the opportunity to experience remote Mill Creek and Deer Creek canyons is awesome (looks so close to Chico and Red Bluff on the map--don't be fooled!). It's the driving that's gnarly. The road to Black Rock from the north side of Ishi Wilderness (Ponderosa Way going south from Hwy 36) is very long and slow (2+ hours from 36)with large rocks and ample tire-popping potential for regular street tires. Our party's Toyota truck and Subaru Forester did fine, but we were REALLY worried that the Subaru would get a flat. Then, we threw caution to the wind and proceeded south instead of backtracking; there's a good gravel road out of Mill Creek canyon, and you come to an intersection that heads north on the good road towards Hwy 32, or south on the slooooow road towards Cohasset. We were told that the road to 32 would be snowbound...mid-April...we said nahhh...4.5 miles later we were halted by snow. So after that 9 mile detour we took the rocky road down into Deer Creek and back out of the canyon to Cohasset. Beautiful, spectacular, verrry slooow, and you might want to bring a chainsaw--we came to a tree that had fallen and was propped up by other trees diagonally across te road, and the only reason the Toyota truck (with rack) could get under is that somebody before us had notched out a hair's-breadth clearance at exactly the place where the rack had to squeeze under. Otherwise, t would have been 45 miles back to Red Bluff! All in all, the day trip was about 6+ hours of driving for 3 hours of hiking, but it was exciting and well worth it for the experience (but maybe not if anything had gone seriously awry).
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Spring is the best time of year to visit Ishi. There are a couple of nice camp sites if you take Cohasset all the way down to the Creek (just keep going straight on Cohasset for about 40 miles). If you continue past this creek on the road, which becomes Ponderosa, there is another camp area on Mill Creek at Black Rock. These sites are really nice and I believe there is a pit toilet. This is also where a trailhead starts so that you can hike into the wilderness area. I'm going there in a few weeks, so I'll write about it then. Remember this is a game preserve. There's no hunting and only catch and release fishing. Have fun!!
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the topo map shows this trail in the wrong place first off. if you are truly looking for the yahi ground and ishi's last "home" take a drive through cohassett onto the ponderosa way. once you begin to get into the foothill areas over looking large canyons you will probably be in deer creek look around this was ishi's home between mill creek and the ridges just south of deer creek.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,050 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
2-3 hours
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Local Contacts
Lassen Volcanic National Park by Wilderness Press, USGS 7.5-min. Manzanita Lake
Local Maps