Idyllic Quincy (population 1728) is one of the northern mountains' three mountain communities, which teeter on the edge of becoming an incorporated town (the other two are Burney, in Shasta County, and Weaverville). It’s no metropolis, but it does have a large grocery store and even a Subway franchise.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
The dry, smoldering, treeless terrain within this 106,000-acre national park stands in stunning contrast to the cool, green conifer forest that surrounds it. That’s the summer; in winter tons of snow ensures you won’t get too far inside its borders. Still, entering the park from the southwest entrance is to suddenly step into another world.
Lake Almanor Area
Calm, turquoise Lake Almanor lies south of Lassen Volcanic National Park via Hwys 89 and 36. This man-made lake is a crystalline example of California’s sometimes awkward conservation and land-management policy: the lake was created by the now-defunct Great Western Power Company and is now ostensibly owned by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
Though it sits on a lovely high desert plateau, the Lassen County seat (population 16,616) isn’t much of a charmer; it’s a resupply post with a Wal-Mart, a few stop lights and two prisons. Although not a tourist destination in itself, it does provide good services for travelers passing through.
Tiny, pretty Graeagle is a former mill town (all the buildings are painted the same red color because they were owned by the mill company) and present center of local life for this part of Plumas County, aka the Lost Sierra. A slew of quirky shops and outdoor activity outfitters line the one street, making the place worth a stop and stroll.
Lassen National Forest
The vast Lassen National Forest (www.fs.fed.us/r5/lassen) surrounding Lassen Peak and Lassen Volcanic National Park, is so big that it’s hard to comprehend: it covers 1.2 million acres (1875 sq miles) of wilderness in an area called the Crossroads, where the granite Sierra, volcanic Cascades, Modoc Plateau and Central Valley meet.