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Bike Directory : Self-Guided Mountain Bike Rides

Biz Johnson Trail
Northern Sierra, California


Difficulty: Beginner Ride
Elevation: 4100 feet at Susanville
Elevation Gain: 1194 feet in 29.9 miles (2% grade)
Ride Distance: 29.9 miles one way (60 mile out and back)
Time: up to 6 hrs. or more
Scenic Quality: A - Very Nice!

How to get there:

FROM RENO: Take Highway 395 North. Just before Susanville where 395 turns toward Alturas continue straight on the main road which becomes Highway 36 and follow into Susanville. In Susanville follow Main Street through town to Weatherlow Street (stop light at bottom of hill by Historic Uptown Susanville). Turn left on Weatherlow Street (which becomes Richmond Road) and follow .5 mile across Susan River to Susanville Railroad Depot Trailhead and Visitor Center. FROM LASSEN PARK: Take Highway 36 to Westwood or Susanville. The trail connects both towns. WESTWOOD: On Highway 36 at Westwood, follow County Road A-21 one mile into Westwood. Park at Bizz Johnson Trail kiosk in front of Westwood Community Center and next to Paul Bunyan Statue. Begin ride by following A-21 back through town the way you came from Highway 36. Cross Highway 36 and ride north on A-21 three miles to County Road 101 (just before railroad tracks). Follow County Road 101 one half mile to Mason Station Trailhead. Ride through trailhead and follow path past kiosk 1/4 mile to connect with abandoned railroad grade. Follow railroad grade 25 miles to Susanville. To avoid riding on the roads drive to Mason Station Trailhead instead of parking in Westwood. SUSANVILLE: Follow Highway 36 to Susanville. Continue on Main Street through Historic Uptown Susanville and at first stop light located at base of hill turn right on Weatherlow Street. Follow South Weatherlow Street (which becomes Richmond Road) 1/2 mile to Susanvillle Railroad Depot Trailhead Visitor Center. Trail begins at Depot. You may also access the trail from Devil's Corral off Highway 36 about 7 miles out of Susanville. The Goumaz Trailhead and and primitive campground located at the midpoint of the trail can be accessed on Forest Service gravel roads that leave Highway 44 about 7 miles west of the intersection of Highway 44 and 36. Susanville Depot Trailhead Visitor Center and Museum 601 Richmond Road (mailing address is P.O. Box 1461), Susanville, CA 96130, 530-257-3252 The Susanville Depot Visitor Center is the main trailhead and visitor center for the Bizz Johnson Trail. The Depot is open May through October (Memorial Day - Columbus Day) and 7 days a week from 9-5. The Depot provides trail information, interpretive displays and videos and includes a book store and gift shop. Bike rentals are also available. Trail information is also posted outside the depot for year round use. The Bizz Johnson Trail begins at the Depot and follows the railroad tracks west across Richmond Road and into Susan River Canyon. The railroad tracks end 1/4 mile west of the Depot where the trail becomes a smooth old railroad bed. Westwood Museum 311 Ash Street, Westwood, CA 96137 530-256-2233 The Westwood Museum is a great little home town museum that provides an excellent glimpse of why the rail trail you will ride was built - to serve the Red River Lumber Company, once the largest pine lumber mill in the world. Stop in to see lots of old photos of the mill, the town and the railroad in its hey day from 1914 to 1956. The museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11am to 4pm. It is recommended you call to confirm hours of this all volunteer operation.


The ride:

The Bizz Johnson Trail winds along the Susan River following the old Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Built in 1914 to service the Red River Lumber Company in Westwood the railroad shut down in 1956. (The 6 miles closest to Susanville are the most scenic.) The trail winds 25.4 miles from Susanville to Mason Station. The trail then follows existing roads an additional 4.5 miles into Westwood where a railroad station type kiosk and a 25-foot carved redwood statue of Paul Bunyan mark the Westwood trailhead. There are beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and reminders of railroad and logging days of the past. The fall colors in October are a beautiful display. The trail consists of a relatively level grade (3% maximum) uphill from Susanville. You can ride an out and back over several bridges and through two unlighted tunnels (single track alternative around both tunnels). You can go at your own pace, and any distance you wish. If you shuttle to Westwood (on county route A-21) the trail is downhill to Susanville. The trail has mile markers made of old railroad tracks so you can judge your progress. Elevation gain from Susanville to Westwood Junction is approximately 1300 feet in 18 miles. From Westwood Junction to Westwood the trail drops approximately 500 feet in 12 miles. Mason Station has an elevation of 5294 feet for a gain of 1194 feet from Susanville in 25 miles, if you wish to go that far. This is a perfect tandem Mountain Bike ride. You should carry a water filter for water bottle refills. A highlight is going back downhill to Susanville in your big chainring. Although the grade is slight it makes for an easy return to your car. Shuttle Options Lassen Rural Bus runs a bus between Westwood and Susanville Monday through Friday and will carry bikes. Call Lassen Rural Bus for current schedule and bus stop locations - 530-252-7433. On weekends or at times not served by the bus you may be able to arrange for a van or shuttle. call Mt. Lassen Cab and Shuttle Services, 530-257-5277.



Across from Honey Lake there is a commercial campground near Milford, if you wish to camp out before Susanville. If you wish to camp near Susanville, there is a spot on the Bizz Johnson Trail at Goumaz. From Susanville proceed (west) up Main Street and out of town on Highway 36. Turn right on Highway 44 and proceed 6-1/2 miles. Turn left onto a dirt road, and left again at the sign to Goumaz. Near 2 miles you will cross the Bizz Johnson Trail. On the other side there is a small campground on the right. There is a fee for camping at Goumaz. There are many inexpensive motels/hotels in Susanville and one in Westwood. BLM (530) 257-0456 has a list if you wish to make a reservation.


What to bring:

Bring plenty of water, food, and clothing for any weather conditions. Wear your helmet. Carry tools, spare tube, tire pump, patch kit, allen wrenches, chain tool, shimano chain pin, tire irons, screw driver, spoke wrench, and small first aid kit. A water filter to refill your water bottle. Control your bicycle at all times, and descend under control. Always yield to hikers, llamas and horses. Never spook animals.



Special Events: The Bureau of Land Management and Lassen National Forets, managers of the Bizz Johnson Trail, and Lassen Land and Trails Trust, a local non-profit trails group that operates the Susanville Depot cooperate in conducting a variety of interpretive activities and events on the trail. The following activities and events occur annually: Rails to trails Festival - Old time Railroad Handcar Races, Mountain Bike Rides, interpretive walks, Food Music and Fun! - Held annually the first weekend in October at the Susanville Depot and on the trail, Call Lassen Land and Trails Trust for current year's dates, 530-257-3252. 2000 Rails to Trails Festival, October 6, 7, & 8 First Day: -Homemade Barbeque Dinner (6-8 p.m.) -Handcar Rides (5 until dark) - Food, beverage booth, live music (The Roop Players) Second Day: -Handcar Race Day (7a.m. to 5 p.m.) -Children's Activities, Ronnie the Clown -Chili Cook- Off and Tasting (noon - 2:30 p.m.) -Drumming Circle (noon) -Live music (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) -Handcar Rides TBA -Farmer's Market (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.) -Food and beverage booth all day -Drawing for mountain bike (5 p.m.) Third Day: -Mountain Bike Rides on the Bizz Johnson Trail (8a.m.) -Ride the Single Tracks at Susanville Ranch Park (9 a.m.) -Bird Walk and Nature Exploration on the Bizz (9:15 a.m.) -Volkswalk (8:30 a.m.) -Coffee, juice, muffins/pastries at the Depot (a.m.) Historic Interpretive Bike Ride National Trail Day (1st weekend in June) Meet in Susanville, shuttle to Westwood, visit Westwood Museum then ride trail back to Susanville touring historic railroad and logging sites along the trail. Call BLM 530-257-0456 to reserve your space on the ride. Summer Interpretive Activities on Bizz Johnson Trail Call BLM, 530-257-0456, for current events. Whistle Stop Lecture Series, Susanville Depot Call Lassen Land and Trails Trust, 530-257-3252 for current listing of monthly presentations on a broad range of historic, natural resource and human interest topics.


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