Located within the Lassen National Forest, Thousand Lakes Wilderness encompasses over 16,000 acres and numerous pristine alpine lakes. Though the total number of lakes fall well short of its name, the Thousand Lakes Wilderness features great fishing and hiking in the high elevations of Shasta County.
The landscape in this area of Lassen National Forest is dominated by volcanic activity, some of it relatively recent. A cinder cone in Thousand Lakes, Hall Butte, is thought to have erupted less than a thousand years ago. The highest point in the Wilderness Area is Crater Peak, at 8,677 feet, and the lowest point is just below 6,000 feet.
There are seven major lakes in the Wilderness Area, with Lake Eiler being the largest, with myriad small ponds scattered throughout. The larger bodies of water all contain trout, and other wildlife in the area include black bear, black tailed deer, pine marten, pika, and occasionally elk.
Four trailheads service the Wilderness Area and offer access to about 21 miles of maintained trails. Be prepared for downed trees and limbs in the backcountry, particularly early in the season. Weekends and holidays are the busiest times, but solitude is easy to come by otherwise.
The large number of water bodies also give rise to the menace of Thousand Lakes: the mosquito. Be prepared with sleeves and spray, and take it into account if you plan to be out around sunset or shortly after. The annoying insect can come in hoards, particularly early in the season, but the phenomenal views and pristine lakes of Thousand Lakes make it all worthwhile.
Access to Thousand Lakes is from Highway 89 in Shasta County, between Highway 299 to the north and Highway 44 to the south. The Wilderness Area is west of 89, and trailheads are found by followed marked Forest Service Roads.