Modoc Line Rail Trail

California

Modoc Line Rail Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Lassen, Modoc
Length: 86 miles
Trail end points: Amedee Road (Wendel) and McArthur Siding (south of Alturas)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Cinder, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6217543
Trail activities: ATV, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Modoc Line Rail Trail Description

The Modoc Line runs 86 miles between Wendel in the south and McArthur Siding in the north (just south of Alturas). The most scenic sections are between Likely and Madeline and Snowstorm Canyon. The trail is largely on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and follows the route of the historic Modoc Line, run by Southern Pacific. Pre-1920s, however, the railway was a narrow gauge called the N-C-O (Nevada, California, and Oregon). Union Pacific bought the rail in 1996, and less than a decade later, it began to be dismantled for recreational uses.

The N-C-O was also referred to as the "narrow, crooked, and ornery." And thus, modern-day users take note: the trail is rough in some places (ballast and gravel surface), and the weather in this remote country can change in minutes, so dress appropriately and take precautions. The Modoc Line is still being developed in some places, so travel is at your own risk.

The Modoc Line supports a variety of users, including non-motorized and motorized (vehicle and OHVs for wildlife watching and public land access). Also, if you come across any gates along the corridor, please close them behind you.

Parking and Trail Access

The Modoc Line is under development, so there are no facilities or formal trailheads as of autumn 2011. Travel at your own risk.

To reach the southern trailhead in Wendel from Susanville, take US 395 east then turn on Wendel Road (follow the signs to Honey Lake) and continue until you cross the old railroad berm. You can also go into Wendel and park near the intersection of Amedee and Antola roads.

To access the trail in McArthur Siding from Alturas, take US 395 south to Lyneta Rd./CR 187A and turn west (right). Turn left at Beet Camp Road. The trail is on the east side of Eastside Canal.

Modoc Line Rail Trail Reviews

Did a few segments of this trail. From Likely took CR-64 (Jess Valley rd) turned right on W. Valley road (about 1.5 miles) and about a mile past the fire station the trail meets with the road and about 200' further is a nice area to park. The trail is very soft dirt, with lots of rodent holes and little shade but it is pretty, did about 5 miles up the hill going back down was tough with the soft dirt and holes.

Next drove to Madeline and picked up the trail heading north (uphill), here is it all railroad ballast and almost impossible to ride. Gave up at 2.5 miles and rode 395 back into town.

Finally, took trail from Likely south bound (again uphill). A bit more packed for the first couple of miles, but still lots of rodent holes. After the gate the trail gets soft again (seems to be lots of rancher traffic digging it up) with more rodent holes.

This could be a really beautiful trail but needs some work, otherwise it is better for horses and ATVs.

In late May of 2015 we took our Rzr (side by side) on the Modoc line. Beautiful country! Sure glad they allow motorized vehicles on this rails to trails as there is a lot of very remote country. We went 74 miles that day and didn't cover it all. We had a lot of fun just being out in remote country, taking our time, stopping often to take pictures and to have lunch. I'm glad we have places like this to go to. Thanks to everyone that put a lot of work into making this happen.

Unfortunately the rail bed has a slight washboard surface with some drain rock and loose smaller material.Biking for extended periods becomes a challenge.Hammering,fishtailing and bogging down best describe.I rode 42 miles and that was enough.

There are only 2 sections worth seeing(in my opinion).The Karlo road access point north to near Ravendale has the beautiful Snowstorm Canyon backcountry.Between Madeline and Likely has some pretty country.The rest is mostly sagebrush plains along the highway.Almost silly for a "trail".

Accordion

For those of you that like to get out in beautiful country, away from crowds, this is the place to go. We drove our ATV's 63 miles and didn't come close to seeing all the country out there. We were the only ones on the trail so be sure to go prepared and bring along extra gas. We had great time!

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