The Mill Creek Trail in the Bucks Wilderness inside the Plumas National Forest winds through dense coniferous forest on the shores of Bucks Lake and into the hills beyond. You'll cross several rock-strewn creeks and emerge from groves of tall Ponderosa pine into high mountain meadows as you make your way along this gently sloping trail. From open vantage points, you'll see one mountain fold after another stretching into the distance.
There are three trailheads where you can begin this hike: at Mill Creek Campground, at Mill Creek Road, or at the southernmost trailhead on Bucks Lake Road just a little west of White Horse Campground. From the southern trailhead, the Mill Creek Trail takes a northern route along the shores of the lake for four miles, then reaches Mill Creek Campground and the middle trailhead. From there, it continues north for another 1.5 miles until it intersects with Mill Creek Road. A little distance from the road, the trail reaches its northern trailhead. This is where many people end the hike, though the trail technically continues past here for another three miles until it intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail.
Do note that this trail can be confusing. Different routes and spur trails are numerous, and the signs don't always make it clear whether you're taking the path you thought you were taking. It's a good idea to consult a map and perhaps even with a ranger before you head out on you hike. The Bucks Summit and Right Hand Branch Trails also start from the southern trailhead and are much more strenuous hikes with steeper ascents.
Elk, mule deer, bobcats, and black bear wander this wilderness area. Wildflowers that grow in the area include the red and pink Sierra shooting star and the yellow and purple "farewell-to-spring" flower (Clarkia viminea).
The northernmost half of this ten-mile trail is less heavily trafficked, making the full hike the perfect choice for people and pups itching to refresh their souls with some mountain solitude.