The Five Springs Wilderness Study Area is located between Lassen County, CA, and Washoe County, NV. However, California got most of it with 97% of the Wilderness Study Area falling within its boundaries. 49,206 acres of Five Springs Wilderness Study Area is under the management of the Bureau of Land Management, whereas 1,195 acres is privately-owned.
The topography of the Wilderness Study Area is typical of the arid Great Basin since the Wilderness Study Area is located on its western edge. Visitors are greeted by eroded volcanic mountains, canyons, ridges, and sagebrush and vegetation that are characteristic to the Great Basin high desert landscape.
The central attraction of the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area is the Five Springs Mountain, Cherry Mountain, and Rush Creek Mountain, which offer multiple high points and summits, as well as a charming backdrop of the Great Basin. The elevation in the WSA ranges from 4500 to 6300 feet, providing a pretty challenging landscape to hikers and climbers alike.
The Wilderness Study Area is not all arid and dry, as it is also home to Stony and Rush creeks that originate in the area. These two perennial creeks are surrounded by thick vegetation, bringing color and contrast to the surrounding land. While there are no developed facilities here, opportunities for primitive and free-range recreational activities are abundant.
The closest city to Five Springs WSA is Susanville, CA, which is located 30 miles to the southwest. In Nevada, the closest city of Reno is 75 miles south of the wilderness boundaries. Approach either of these cities first and stock up before you make your way to the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area.
From Susanville, California it will take an hour and fifteen minutes to reach your destination. From Susanville, head northeast on Foss Street towards Main Street. Get on US-395 North onto Bert Dr in Litchfield. Take Smoke Creek Ranch Road and Smokey Creek Ranch Road that will lead you to the wilderness boundaries.
Regardless of where you are coming from, dirt roads will greet you before you make it to the Wilderness Study Area. Come prepared with spares and a full tank. Four-wheel-drive and high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
Five Springs Wilderness Study Area permits primitive camping, which means visitors can camp anywhere in the wilderness region. It’s important that the leave-no-trace principles are adhered to and no live vegetation is disturbed. The stay limit on each campsite is up to 14 days.
Five Springs Wilderness Study Area is a famous hunting spot and is crowded during designated hunting season. Hence, pick your campsites wisely if you seek solitude and quiet.
The closest campground to the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area is less an hour’s drive away. Ramhorn Springs is a small water body in the high desert and the campground is located right next to it. The campground is made of earth and gravel and boasts 10 RV campsites with no hook-up services. Amenities at the Ramhorn Springs campground includes picnic tables, trash cans, vault toilets, fire rings, and a horse corral. Potable water is not available so make sure you bring your own water.
Hunting is one activity at the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area that receives regular visitors. The WSA is crowded during the fall season as hunters come from all parts to test their skills when it comes to hunting chukar and quail. Additionally, deer and antelope hunting are also pursued.
On the lower southern slopes of this vast WSA, near Smoke Creek Road, rabbit hunting is also popular. It is estimated that nearly 5,700 visitors per year make it to the WSA for its rewarding hunting grounds.
While there aren’t any developed trails, hiking and horseback riding is enjoyed by the visitors in any part of the WSA they see fit. Some of the most popular hikes are to Rush Creek Mountain − the highest point of the wilderness, and to Five Springs Mountain − the most prominent. Cherry Mountain is also hiked by many visitors both on foot and via horseback.
Wildlife is abundant in the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area, with its habitat the same as that of the Great Basin. Special Wildlife Viewing opportunities include the deer winter range along the lower slopes of the Wilderness Study Area as well as fawning and kidding areas in the central parts of Five Springs WSA.
Chukar, quail, prairie falcon, and golden eagles also soar high above the vegetation and peaks. Wild horses and elk can sometimes be spotted grazing around the wilderness study area.
The volcanic rugged landscape, with ridges and mountain highpoints and its many creeks, offers mesmerizing views. The amazing landscape is one that professional photographers would go to great heights to capture.
It appears even greater by the fact that it has little human imprints, and nature runs rampant in the area. Sagebrush, grasses, and shrubs of the associated area add a sprinkle of charm and as a result, make this WSA the perfect place for nature photography.
While their exact location is unknown and is for the visitors to discover, fourteen National-Register-Quality sites have been found at the Five Springs Wilderness Study Area. They are most likely to be located on the southwest flank of the Wilderness Study Area and might also be located in conjunction with the nearby sites.
Some of these archeological sites include milling stations, petroglyph panels, and village sites. Interestingly, the Wilderness Study Area is considered to have the potential of having more archeological sites within its boundaries.
Off-road vehicles are permitted at the Wilderness Study Area, and while it can be used for recreational purposes, most visitors use it for hunting. Hunters access the routes in their four-wheel drives and make cross country travels to reach the more popular hunting locations. Sometimes, visitors also use the primitive motorcycle trail for both recreational and hunting purposes.