McGowan National Recreation Trail

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Trail Distance: 18 miles
Time Estimate: 4 hr 40 min
Elevation Gain: 1180 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: Yes
Description
The McGowan Lake Cross-Country Ski Area is located in the Lassen National Forest, and is surrounded by mountain peaks, gulches and meadows. The trails here can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking, walking or running year-round, with your pupventurous fur-baby in tow, of course! 

The trailhead can be found just a short way from the Lassen National Forest main entrance, off Highway 89/Lassen Forest Road. There are 3 other access points as well: at one end of Church Camp Trail on Highway 36, at the trail head for Nanny Creek Trail, also on Highway 36, and the terminus of Dry Lake Trail  near the Dry Lake Campground.  Parking can be had at Church Camp Trail and Nanny Creek Trail, as well as at the main entrance off Highway 89. You won't find amenities at the trailheads, but there are several ski rental shops and restaurants where restrooms, food and drinking water are available. Be sure to bring any essentials with you for the trek, including clean up bags and water.

Of the 10 trails in the Ski Area, the Dry Lake is the most difficult, owing to its length and at least one treacherous, steep and icy portion near the main trail head. At about 9 miles long, this trail requires careful pre-planning and stocking of water and snacks. If traveling the full length isn't appealing, an intersection with Nanny Creek Trail sits at about the halfway point of Dry Lake. Arguably the easiest trail is the McGowan Road Trail which is about 1.25 mile long and ends at the regional weather station.

If you and your furry bestie are hiking or snowshoeing in the winter, please be sure to stay to the side of the cross-country ski tracks to preserve them. Because Lassen is a volcanic park, be on the lookout for evidence of the lava rock piles formed centuries ago. These can cause damage to Fido's paw pads and nails, and unless your pup is part mountain goat, some of these spots should be avoided for their safety.

Whatever time of year you visit this group of interlocking trails, your experience can be customized to you and your furry friend's skill and stamina level, and amount of time available. What could be more woofderful? 

Trail Features
Ice, Loose Terrain, Rocky, Steep Inclines, Forest, River, Easy Incline, Mountains
Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
Only one of these trails is easy (McGowan Road); most are intermediate with a couple of difficult ones. The more difficult trails feature areas of steep, icy terrain in the winter, and the elevation of over 6000 feet makes extra precautions like plenty of water necessary. Be aware that the area is not patrolled, so if you or your fur-baby gets into trouble, help will not be on the way until another visitor happens to go by.

In the winter, all vehicles must be wearing or carrying tire chains, or suffer citations.

Address
Hwy 89/Lassen Park Rd
Mineral, CA 96063
Hours
Mon 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tue 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Wed 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Thu 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Fri 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Sat 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Sun 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
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Address
Hwy 89/Lassen Park Rd
Mineral, CA 96063
Hours
Mon 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tue 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Wed 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Thu 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Fri 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Sat 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Sun 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM