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North Warner Auto Tour
North Warner Auto Tour

Rugged beauty, history, key to the north corner.

The North Warner Tour is separated from the South Warner Tour by SR 299 and Cedar Pass.

The tour heads north on U.S. 395 from Alturas and then turns east on SR 299 over Cedar Pass into Cedarville.

At Cedarville, turn north on County Road 1 towards Lake City. From the Cedarville intersection, drive 5.2 miles north and turn left on Upper Lake City Road. After about a mile Upper Lake City Road again heads north and into Lake City. The hamlet has the distinction of being the first “subdivision” in Modoc and was surveyed by a group of promoters in 1863. Other firsts claimed by Lake City include: the first white man’s dwelling; first sawmill; first school, and first wedding.

The Lake City Flour Mill—no longer in production—is well worth a photograph. Park at the intersection at South Water Street, and take a short walk up the hill to the mill on the south side of the road.

The Lake City School still stands, and is now a private residence. It’s on the north side of the road about three-tenths of a mile from the flour mill access road. Continue on the County Road 1 and make a left, headed to Fort Bidwell.

Travelers have two options at this point. One option is to take Fandango Pass (State Historical Landmark No. 546), and head back to Alturas. The other option is to take the High Grade route through Fort Bidwell (State Historical Landmark No. 430).
The Fandango tour

Both routes are well worth taking, and the first is Fandango. It heads over Fandango Pass and into the Goose Lake Valley, an area full of pioneer history and tragedy.

Travel north about 10.2 miles from Lake City and take Forest Road 9, the Fandango turn-off. At 2.4 miles on that road pull over and park on the right. Looking up the hill you’ll see what looks like a rock wall. It’s actually the stabilization of a road bed the U.S. Army built as a route from Fort Bidwell across the Warner Mountains and on across the Devil’s Garden. This road replaced the original immigrant trail, which was too steep.

Continue up the road about a ½ mile and on the left you’ll see a steep portion of the Lassen-Applegate immigrant trail going straight up the hill.

Fandango Pass is legendary in California history. The Applegate brothers led the first wagon train bound for Oregon over the pass in 1846. Peter Lassen later advertised it (wrongly) as an easier route to California, and in the gold rush of 1849, it was the principal route to California. The emigrants considered the Warners an edge of the Sierra Nevada and incorrectly jumped to the conclusion that the trip was almost over. Crossing Fandango was cause for celebration, including the 19th century fandango dance, which gave Fandango its name.

At the top of Fandango Pass is a historic marker placed by the Native Daughter of the Golden West. Travel 1.2 miles from the monument and to the right you will see Fandango Peak, and to the left is Fandango Valley, the purported site of the Fandango Massacre.

Heading west the tour passes Buck Creek Guard Station, built in 1908 as the first “modern” building on the Modoc forest.

An interesting side trip turns left 0.7 miles beyond Buck Creek and heads to Lassen Creek and the Rainbow obsidian mines. Drive 1.6 miles, and then turn left at the fork. The Rainbow mine is 2.6 miles to the south on Forest Road 46N30. To get to Lassen Creek campground, continue down the road 0.4 miles, turn right and cross the bridge for another 1/3 of a mile. The campground is in a beautiful meadow with no facilities other than a vault toilet. The road is good and accessible to trailers. Permits are required for obsidian mining.

To return to the tour loop, go north to where the four roads come together and go straight on road CR47 to U.S. 395.

Travel across U.S. 395 and follow the loop into Willow Ranch, a one-time bustling logging town. The community had its own school, and its post office was established in 1871. The mill and the post office closed down after World War II. The sawmill burner is still visible near the millpond. The old school still stands. The loop rejoins U.S 395 at CR47.

Once back at the highway, head south and to the Goose Lake overlook. Most of the lake can be seen from that point. The Sugar Hill Viewpoint is about a mile further down the highway. Look up on the east side of the road and you’ll see a historic lookout at the top of the peak. This is also a popular spot for hang gli

Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association
1699 HWY 273, Anderson, CA 96007 | (P) 530-365-7500 | (F) 530-365-1258