Chanchelulla Peak is the highest point in the Chanchelulla Wilderness. Chanchelulla Wilderness is a relatively small wilderness area at 8,200 acres and is located about 50 miles west of Red Bluff, California. The Chanchelulla Wilderness was created in 1984 by Congress and is administered by the Shasta-Trinity National Forest
. The wilderness is steep and rugged with virtually no trails, no lakes, and lots of wildlife.
At 6,401 ft Chanchelulla Peak doesn’t earn much respect in the list of highest peaks in California, but it does have a lot of prominence
. It ranks 102nd of the list of California prominence peaks
with 2,398 ft of prominence. Chanchelulla Peak is in a true wilderness area and is not on many people’s list of “Peak’s I have to climb before I die”.
The most activity this wilderness sees is during hunting season. A wayward hiker finds their way to the summit a couple of times each year and hunters venture into the wilderness in search of deer and bear. There are black bears in this wilderness. I saw a very large one who wasn’t afraid of me at all. He watched me for several minutes and I was only about 100 ft downhill from him. He must have just finished lunch, and couldn’t eat one more bite.
From looking at the maps, it appears that there are several possible routes to hike to the summit of Chanchelulla Peak, however, I found those from the north, west, and south didn’t work out for one reason or another. I chose the eastern route up Chanchelulla Creek. Elevation of the trailhead is about 3,200ft (980 meters).
To access Chanchelullas Creek you have to get to Deer Lick Springs on the eastern side of t the Chanchelulla Wilderness. The roads to Deer Lick Springs are well signed and accessible in 2WD vehicles.
Option 1 from the north. 2WD ok for this option, but there are some potholes and ruts to avoid. From Hwy 299 that connects Redding to Eureka on the coast, turn south on Hwy 3 just before the east of the little town of Douglas City. Turn left on the signed road of Deer Lick Springs Road. This turn is on a blind switchback on Hwy 3, so watch traffic carefully here. Zero your odometer here. This road is paved for about 4 miles and then becomes gravel. There are lots of roads and driveways the fork off of Deer Lick Springs Road, but stay on the main road. This is a long drive around the east and south side of the Chanchelulla Wilderness.
Finally, at 18.0 miles from Hwy 3, there is an intersection with road 30N02 on the right heading down to Deer Lick Springs. This road is a little rougher than the one you were on, but keep going down for 2.4 miles to Deer Lick Springs. Here is another intersection. Deer Lick Springs Campground is to the right and Forest Road 1 is to the left.
Take Forest Road 1 to the left and go up about 1.0 mile, and you will see a little drive on your right that goes up Chanchelulla Creek. The creek is hard to see here, so you have to be alert. Drive up this little road about 500ft to a campsite just before the road crossed Chandhelulla Creek. Park here, don’t try to cross the creek, it only goes another .25 mile before it ends.
Option 2 from the south. From Hwy 36 that connects Red Bluff with Eureka on the coast. Find the town of Platina on the map about 50 miles west of Red Bluff. Just west of this little town is the Yolla Bolla Ranger Station. Continue west, ignore the first sign in about .5 mile on the right for a road to Deer Lick Springs. Continue west for 4.3 miles to Forest Road 1 on the right. Turn right on this gravel road and follow the signs to Deer Lick Springs. In 5.3 miles there is an intersection and Forest Road 1 goes left down the hill. Follow this for another 5.5 miles to where Chanchelulla Creek meets Browns Creek. The creek is hard to see here, so you have to be alert. Drive up this little road about 500ft to a campsite just before the road crossed Chandhelulla Creek. Park here, don’t try to cross the creek, it only goes another .25 mile before it ends. 2WD ok for this drive.
No permits or red tape for climbing Chanchelulla Peak. If you are concerned about conditions of the roads or forest fires contact the forest service.
South Fork Management Unit
• Hayfork Ranger Station
P.O. Box 159
(111 Trinity Street)
Hayfork, CA 96041
• Yolla Bolla Ranger Station
HC01 Box 400
(2555 State Highway 36)
Platina, CA 96076
Email for both Ranger Stations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
There is camping in the area. Deer Lick Springs has a forest service campground with 15 spaces and a couple of outhouses. There is a private campground at Deer Lick Springs also and they rent cabins too. They looked pretty primitive and old, so don’t expect a 5 Star Resort here.
There are many campgrounds along Highway 299 on the Trinity River about 20 miles north of Chanchelulla Peak. Contact the Shasta-Trinity National Forest for more camping information. They don’t seem to have that information on their website.
There is a campsite at the trailhead on Chanchelulla Creek.
If you want to backpack, there didn’t seem to be any good areas until you get up to the saddle on the ridgeline just east of Chanchelulla Peak. There is room on the summit for a bivy site or two also.
When to Climb
Access to this peak could be all year round. There will be snow in the winter and the slopes are steep. The best time to climb is Spring, Summer and Fall. Take caution to avoid the brutal hot days of Summer.
It will be difficult to get accurate conditions for Chanchelulla Peak in the winter. Contact the forest service to see if they have any info.
Following is a link to a weather source for Red Bluff, California. Red Bluff is one of the hottest places on earth in the summer. Chanchelulla Peak is not high enough in elevation to escape this heat. It may be 15 degrees cooler on the summit, but when it is 115 in Red Bluff (like it frequently gets), it will still be a very warm day on Chanchelulla Peak.
Red Bluff Weather