Schedule of Activities

Trails West Soldier Meadows (Baccala Ranch) Outing

Article By Dave Freeman

Editor’s Note: This is a great example of one of our 2023 outings!

July 29 – 30, 2023


We had been invited to search and document the Lassen Trail on the Baccala family property located west of Chester Ca, The Baccala Ranch was established in 1858 and the historical features have never been mapped until this year. The main feature of the 1,700 acre ranch is its 4 mile long sub-alpine meadow.

Family history tells of the Lassen Trail skirting the southern edge of the meadow and a knoll at the eastern end as one of the 1850 Lassen Trail Relief efforts of Major Ruckers and Capt. Peoples contingent. Ox shoes nailed to the wall of one of the ranch buildings attest to past oxen travels across this ranch. The Trail here was used from 1848 until about 1865, with the later years used for miners to access the Rich Bar area on the Feather River.


However, the family’s trail route conflicts with the official route of the Lassen Trail. This currently accepted route of the Trail is around the more difficult to negotiate North side of the meadow. Our task was determining which was correct.


This search was broken up into 2 outings. The first was in June with CaNv OCTA attempting to find the Lassen Trail direction where the eastern portion of the Trail entered the meadow. The CaNv OCTA group initially found limited trail related artifacts on the southern edge at the beginning of the meadow. No artifacts or trail signs were found at the outing supporting the official northern route. What was found at this search was that both possible trail routes were obscured by subsequent lumber railroad development. Broken rail bits, a train coupler and spikes everywhere!


The Trail’s West outing task was quickly changed to find the trail before it entered Soldier Meadows and then to search the possible areas of the trail where the railroad would not have obliterated the original Lassen Trail.


Saturday July 30


As the land east of Soldier Meadows was not Baccala land, but Forest Service land, Seth Ownes, archaeologist for the Lassen National Forest acquired a metal detecting / documenting permit for this area.

Those without metal detectors were supplied one by the Forest Service. The trail route was searched, following Soldier Creek downstream to Marker L- 46 at the Soldier Creek Campground. It was hoped that some of the grassy areas along the creek would yield  a pioneer campsite or two.


No such luck, but the omnipresent railroad artifacts were clearly found. Then downstream of the L-46 Trails West Marker, a nice trail bed was noted telegraphed by a wide row of bunch grass.  In short order, a period carriage bolt was found.

When the features were logged, it was apparent that this was not the Lassen Trail but the miners’ trail down to the Feather River. Seth gleefully documented this new historical feature into the Forest Service records. Next it became evident this new trail west end was directly at the junction of the 2 trails.

Our search was expanded in this area including a small portion of the Trail which the official route went over low ridge to Pitville. But again,  the logging, railroad and the public road had taken their toll and no artifacts were encountered. We returned to camp and after a rest, traveled to a possible section of undisturbed road adjacent to the Ranch buildings for a quick inspection of tomorrow morning’s search area.


Saturday July 30


Today we started back at the old road section at the Ranch buildings.


This ½ mile section of undisturbed road was searched with the first half by a metal detector and the second half only by MKII eyeballs. Near the west of this road, roughly south of the Ranch buildings, a Prehistoric site was found.

At approximately 250 yards from our start at the green gate, a damaged 52 caliber 340 grain conical bullet was found. This conical was in line with other large caliber rounds found by the Baccala family when logging.

This collection of bullets is 1000 yards from the Army encampment knoll. Early Sharps rifles were sighted at this distance. Period artifacts were found along this old road, but nothing to hang our hats on to say it was the Lassen Trail.  We then headed back to camp for lunch.


After lunch we headed to the western end of Soldier Meadow to a site known as “Tuckers”. Here we had hoped to find the trail as it would be where the southern and northern possible routes would have joined.  LIDAR showed 4 promising breaks in the low 8-10-foot-tall basalt escarpment. The Tucker site also sported a lovely lave tube spring and small adjacent grassy area which would have been a likely camp for weary emigrants. A former worker on the ranch recalled old wagon parts scattered about at the base of the escarpment at this site around 1963.


In searching the area, a prehistoric rock wall used as a hunting blind and other prehistoric items were found. The passages through the basalt escarpment were searched with metal detectors and although appearing to be wagon passages, no artifacts were found. A possible pioneer grave or marker was logged east of the lava tube spring.

The railbed crossing the meadow at this area was searched near the creek and a possible ford site was inspected to see if the creek bottom would support a wagon. I can attest that the bottom of the ice-cold creek had a very, very soft bottom unsuitable for a wagon crossing.



Archaeologist Owens felt there was sufficient evidence from the scattered wagon parts to lean to the opinion that the southern route could be the Lassen Trail route. Clearly the passage of time with the early logging railroads and logging had a very detrimental impact on the Trail features. We have found evidence from a building site at the Lassen Rancho Bosquejo at the end of the Lassen Trail (Tehama County), evidence that the Lassen Trail supported the flow of miners to the Upper Feather River until at least 1865. This increased impact on the Lassen Trail would have made the trail quite visible if undisturbed. Much further research and searching is needed to this very picturesque portion of the Lassen Trail as this section of trail kicked our butts!


We will try again next year!




On August 5, 2023 Trails West released the latest updated publication titled, “A Guide To The Applegate Trail From Lassen Meadows To Goose Lake”.  The 4th edition was published in 2018 and the new 2023 5th edition has the latest information on this segment of the Applegate Trail.  Use this link to order, A Guide To The Applegate Trail From Lassen Meadows To Goose Lake.



Trails West had a successful  Conference from June 5th to June 7th at the Carson Valley Inn in Gardnerville, Nevada.




Well, summer is here and that means field trips!  We have been busy looking into possible trips and Trails West has come up with our 2023 field schedule below.


As always, for insurance reasons, anyone attending one of our trips must be a member of Trails West.


More information on these trips is on our website and calendar.



Lassen Trail Terminus


On the first Sunday of most months, member Dave Freeman leads a group out to the Lassen Trail terminus and the town of Benton City to locate and ground proof trail locations and other camps. Occasionally a Saturday trip will be to work on the Lassen features of the nearby Monastery. This is a great opportunity to learn about this historical area and to assist in locating and documenting a part of our history before it disappears forever.



Black Rock Emigrant Camps


There are three trips planned out to the Black Rock Desert this year.


You will have a choice of either moteling or camping and most any type of vehicle will be acceptable. The main part of the trips will be to visit multiple emigrant campsites and hot springs used on the Applegate and Nobles trails. This is a wonderful opportunity to visit some of the major emigrant camp sites on these trails from the comfort of your everyday vehicle.


May 27-29 (Memorial Day weekend)
July 1-4 (4th of July weekend)
August 12-13 (In addition, this trip will be a great chance to witness the Perseid Meteor shower)


These trips are tentative depending on the number of signups. Those expressing interest will be contacted about a month ahead of time to discuss final details and any vehicle or equipment requirements.



Lassen Trail Location Survey – July 29th & 30th


There is a section of the Lassen trail between markers L-46 to L-48 that is located on private land. We have never had access before but we will on the above dates. We will be working to locate the exact trail location and also look into old military encampments. Full information is on our website in the Members Only section.



Nobles Trail Fun Trip – July 31st to Aug 3rd 

On this trip we will be following the Nobles Trail from where it leaves the Applegate near the Black Rock Desert to its end at Shasta City. We are planning on camping, but motels can be used but will entail a lot of extra driving.



Maintenance Trips – Dates to be announced


We also have five maintenance trips that are currently needed this year.
1 – Straighten Marker CR-46 at Caples Lake. This will require pulling the marker upright and pouring new concrete around it.


2 – We have been notified the plate on Marker A-26A near Cedarville is missing. We have the new plate and will need to rivet it to the marker.


3 – We have been notified the plate on Marker B-39 at four trees is missing. We have the new plate and will need to rivet it to the marker.


4 – There is a report that Marker A-36 is missing. We will be making trip to check to be sure. If so, we will need to install a new marker and plate.


5 – We have just found out that Marker S-10 is located on private property and the owner has installed locked gates. We will need to move this marker down the road.

The work on all of these maintenance trips can be accomplished in one day, but travel time for some members might entail an overnight stay. Camping and/or motels are available nearby to these sites.


An email will be sent out to all members when dates have been firmed up for this work.

If you’re thinking of attending one of these trips please check the Members Only “2023 Field Trips” page for more information and contact the trip coordinator at the email below.



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During the year, we usually have several one day trips to do marker maintenance and move markers to better locations. If you would like to be advised of when these are happening, contact our Trail Activity Coordinator at the email address below.






We could use your help!!


With all the markers we have out on the trails, many of them are getting to where they need maintenance work. Attached here is an updated PDF version of our Inspection Report form that can be printed out and it would be a great help if anyone out on a trail would take a copy along and fill it out as they pass by a marker. It would also be a big help if you would fill it out even if a marker is fine. That way we’ll know that someone won’t need to make a special trip to check it. Here is a Word version of the form that you should be able to fill out on your computer and then attach to an email back to us at:



Be sure and change the (at) to @


Thanks, this would be a big help in our continuing efforts to maintain our markers.






We, as an organization, have certain responsibilities on our outings. Because of that, we have developed a set of Rules & Requirements that each participant must adhere to when joining us on one of our trips. You may review them by clicking here.


If you do not have the type of necessary vehicle and are still interested in joining us on a trip, please contact the trip leader. Many times there will be room in someone else’s rig and arrangements can be made to accommodate an extra passenger or two.