Monday, June 28, 2021

The Lost Sierra - Spending Time in California's Plumas County

I've been on this earth 60 years now, all of them a Californian, and most of them exploring this state from top to bottom. Even with that, there are still parts of this huge state that I haven't been to yet. This weekend, we're going to rectify that a bit by going to Plumas County, the 8th smallest county by population and 37th smallest by size.

It's a three and a half hour drive for us, not including a stop at Duke's Diner in Olivehurst along the way for lunch. There's a long climb once you turn off after Oroville through a series of dams and small lakes along the Feather River. These are power generating dams owned by PG&E (Northern California's main utility) and this canyon is know as the Stairway of Power.

At the top of the stairway, we pull into Quincy. It's the county seat of Plumas County but, as there are no incorporated cities here, it's just a large-ish town...population 5,500.

The innkeeper sent me detailed instructions before we left...text her when we know approximately when we'll get there. Text her when we do get there. Don't go to address listed, a detailed map to your unit around the alley in the back are included. The office is under construction, just go straight to your unit...the keys will be on the table.

Ada's Place is not an AirBnB, it's a well hidden motel in downtown Quincy just a block away from the courthouse.

We get lucky and find it on the first try. Although we're told to text or email everything (non-contact, due to Covid), the innkeeper meets us anyway. This four room inn is unlike most we've seen.

There are three cottages (one is a duplex, so four rooms), plus the owner's quarters. A square driveway goes around the place. It is very lushly landscaped. A sign on the wall of a weathered, wood building..."Hopsings"...lets us know we've found it (Hopsing's is the name of the room, Ada's Place is the name of the Motel).

Our unit is the accessible one. It has a separate bedroom, big bathroom with a stone floor and roll-in shower. Living room with a dining table, sofabed, coffee table and chairs. 

There is an upstairs loft with a double futon on the floor and a half bath with just a toilet and sink. That's enough to squeeze six people in, more than enough room for the three of us.

There are floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for a view of the private sunken garden outside. We would watch blue jays frolic in the trees and bushes there each morning. 

An accessible path from the parking spot to the front door is marred by about three feet of gravel. If you have a manual chair, I'd ask the innkeepers to put a piece of plywood over it for easier maneuvering. 

The unit has a full kitchen, 32" TV in the living room and a smaller one in the loft, stereo system, electric pot belly stove for atmospheric heat, a window air conditioner upstairs, heater downstairs, and...that holy grail for any hotel room...a washer and dryer.

It's not cheap at $180 per night but it's a very nice oasis just a block from the bustle of Main Street with it's restaurants, bars, and theaters.

Lodgings secured, after an evening it's time to explore. About 30 miles away, in the Plumas National Forest, we go looking for a trail to hike. My wife, Letty, had read about and easy-to-access waterfall here so we head that way.

We're starting to wonder if we took a wrong turn as we head up this bumpy, one lane road that is miles past the middle of nowhere.

Four or five miles later, we find the parking lot for Frazier Falls Trail. There is one handicapped parking spot next to two accessible pit toilets. There is no running water here so bring your own and some sanitizer.

The trail is nicely paved and smooth all the way. The Forest Service rates it "difficult" for wheelchairs. Power chairs will have no problems at all. Strong manual users or those with help pushing a few, short uphill sections should be OK, too.

We go past big boulders blooming with wildflowers.

A quarter mile in, we reach the Frazier Creek.

A wooden bridge allows wheelchairs to reach the other side.

The trail winds up going over a small, rocky ridge. It's not hard but going over really feels like you've reached a mountain top.

At the end of another quarter mile, you reach a viewing platform. 

Another, better platform is just a few feet beyond this one. This is the end of the trail.

Across the canyon, you get very good, accessible views of the falls, dropping 176 feet from this 6,000 foot elevation.

Half a mile in, then half a mile back to the parking lot for a total of a mile of very nice, wheelchair accessible hiking high in the Sierras.

Back down the road, we were going to do another hike at a nearby lake but the trail was under construction and not available. We returned to the nearby town of Graeagle to have some soft serve ice cream before heading back to Quincy.

It's a relaxing evening in our very nice rooms where we'll rest up for our next outing.

Darryl Musick
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