Caribou Wilderness

Area Status: Open

The Caribou Wilderness is a gentle, rolling, forested plateau dotted with glacial lakes. Reminders of volcanic and glacial origin are apparent throughout this remote, unpopulated area. Crater peaks, cinder cones, and numerous large and small depressions have resulted in the formation of the crystalline lakes that are scattered throughout the plateau.

Caribou Peaks, Black Cinder Rock, and Red Cinder are points of interest. The average elevation is 6,900 feet. The highest point, Red Cinder, is 8,370 feet. From here there are majestic views of the lofty mountains that surround this primitive wilderness. Located on the eastern slopes of what was once Mount Tehama, this area is surrounded by the volcanic peaks of Swain Mountain, Bogard Buttes, Prospect Peak, Ash Butte, Red Cinder Cone and Mount Harkness.

The Forest cover is mostly lodgepole pine with a mixture of Jeffrey pine, white and red fir, western white pine, and hemlock. In early summer, wildflowers brighten the trail and water lilies cluster in ponds.

The headwaters of the Susan River originate in the Caribou. This water percolates up through the porous volcanic aquifer and is a major year around water source for the east slope of the Cascades. While scouting out a route to bring wagon trains through, early day hunting parties also ventured into the Caribou area to find game for survival. Today, their route is known as the Lassen Trail.

The larger lakes that are deep enough to support fish are home to brook and rainbow trout. Some familiar birds that make their home in the Caribou are the bald eagle, osprey, common merganser, eared grebe, and many types of ducks.

The summer use period is approximately June 15 to October 15, although early spring could open up the lower areas by Memorial Day. Hypothermia can be a problem in spring and fall seasons with cold rains. Check our Current Conditions page for weather conditions.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: This Caribou Wilderness is generally always open to the public. The area is not currently maintained, use at your discretion.
Operational Hours: The Caribou Wilderness is generally open year-round, although not always accessible due to snow and weather. 
Fees: None
Permit Info: Camp fire permits are required for use of open flame. Obtain a free permit at the Lassen National Forest Ranger Station in Chester or the Forest Supervisor's Office in Susanville, or print one yourself by visiting this link:
Closest Towns: Chester, CA, Westwood, CA, Susanville, CA
Water: non-potable
Restroom: none
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Almanor Ranger District

General Information

General Notes:

 Contact the Almanor Ranger District at P.O. Box 767, Chester, CA 96020, (530)258-2141.


Dispersed Camping

Lake and Pond Fishing

Day Hiking


Horse Camping

Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities