Spencer Meadows sits below Mount Conard near the Lassen National Park and inside a National Recreation Area. Two thousand feet plus of climbing from Highway 36 and you are there. The trail is very nice for the most part but has many fallen trees blocking the trail. Inexperienced explorers could easily lose the trail in a couple of places on the Canyon Loop section.
The first few miles is all about a rapid 1000 foot elevation gain. Near the two mile point the trail forks with a Canyon or Ridge Trail, I chose the Canyon Route to the left. The Canyon Route is loaded with vistas, undulating terrain, and Canyon Creek Falls. I was lucky enough to be serenaded by two Red Tail Hawks for about one-eighth after the second vista.
Canyon Creek Falls is near the five-mile mark on the way in and is only a short way off of the main trail. I imagine the spring flow of water off of this precipice is something to see, but even the mid-summer flow is nice.
After Canyon Creek Falls it is all about climbing again. There are several areas with downed trees in lush vegetation where the trail is very obscure, just investigate and the trail will become apparent. The Canyon Route will intersect the Ridge Trail less than one-eighth mile from Spencer Meadows and when you get here you know the climbing is almost over.
Spencer Meadows is beautiful and has a dramatic cliff area jutting up from the Northern end. I could not believe someone left a plastic bag at the edge of this pristine place. I pocketed the bag, reveled in the moment, took pictures, and began my way back.
Taking the Ridge Trail down was a mixed bag of trail features with its own share of downed trees. The first half mile is full of steep descent with obstacles and then turns to a cruising ridge singletrack for over two miles. The final two-mile descent is flat out wonderful.
This is a great hike, bike, hike a bike trail that delivers everything the outdoor enthusiast could ask for.
Route: Spencer Meadow
Distance: 12.06 miles
Average: 4.45 mph
Fastest Speed: 13.40 mph