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High Grade National Recreational Trail

Hiking Trail or Trailhead
Not fully identified, but could be an ore trolley relay station or stamp mill. – Kerry Davis

Today, you can retrace the historic past of the High Grade Mining District by way of the High Grade National Recreation Trail. The trail meanders around old mining claims, tailing and test pit sites, mine shafts, old frame buildings, and various mining equipment. The trail also travels over a saddle on the west side of 8,250 foot high Mt. Vida (which is the second highest peak in the North Warner Mountains), through stands of white fir, ponderosa pine, white pine, and lodge pole to access high ridge tops that offer magnificent sweeping vistas of both Goose Lake to the west, and Surprise Valley to the east.

The cry for gold was heard in northern Modoc County at the turn of the century. Prospectors (including Mr. Wrigley of chewing gum fame) rushed to the northern Warner Mountains in order to stake their claim in this new Mother Lode.

The towns of High Grade and Bradley formed almost overnight as the population exploded to more than 5,000 within the year. Due to the remote location of the High Grade Mining District, equipment and supplies were difficult to acquire. Since most work was done by man and horse power the ability to mine, extract, transport, and process the gold bearing ore proved too costly. Even though in 1915, 14,000 ounces of lode gold was extracted, the High Grade Mining District had already started to diminish. As miners abandoned their claims they left behind not only visible traces of their lives, but also an historic legacy of Modoc County's gold rush era.

The trail is open to hikers, horses, bikers, ATVs and four-wheelers. The trail is approximately 5.5 miles long with elevation varying from 7,100 to 7,800 feet. The trail gradient is mostly gentle with maximum pitches less than 10 percent. Much of the High Grade trail follows four wheel drive dirt roads with only a 1.5 section of trail tread at the south trailhead.

Directions: The High Grade National Recreation Trail is located within the Modoc National Forest and can be accessed via:

Alturas: Travel north on Hwy 395 for 33 miles until you come to the junction of Hwy 395 and Forest Road 9 at the Willow Ranch Fire Station. Travel east and south on Forest Road 9 for 5 miles (passing the Buck Creek Guard Station) to Forest Road 47N72 (the Del Pratt Spring Road). Travel east and north on Forest Road 47N72 for 5-1/2 miles to the High Grade NRT south trailhead.

Cedarville: Travel north on County Road 1 for 25-1/2 miles to Fort Bidwell. From the north end of Fort Bidwell, continue on Forest and County Road 2 for 9-1/2 miles to the north trailhead of the Highgrade National Recreation Trail.

The following community members have helped to preserve this historic area:

* Back Country Horsemen of California (High Country Unit)
* Boy Scouts of America Troop 49
* Modoc Historical Society
* Modoc Resource Advisory Council
* Modoc National Forest
* Private individuals

Trail Distance

5.5 miles

Vertical Gain or Loss

Elevation varies from 7,100 to 7,800 feet

Nearby Places