Lassen County is home to one of the richest rockhound beds.
Susanville, a smaller town in California, is known for several rockhounding locations.
You can find gems and rocks, including Tourmaline, Amethyst, and Quartz at Thompson Peak, Murdock Crossing, and Hallelujah Junction.
Rockhounding Lassen County, California
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Lassen County covers nearly 5000 sq. miles in northeast California.
The climate follows the typical North American seasons with temperatures fluctuating from 20 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best time of year for rockhounding is in early spring or fall.
At this time of year, you are unlikely to experience any extreme weather or storms.
The area is quite hilly, with elevations reaching up to 3000 ft.
There is some ground coverage, but quite a bit of the area is exposed to direct sunlight.
You will need to prepare for these environmental conditions.
Before your rockhounding trip, make sure you’ve checked the current weather and dress adequately.
Don’t forget to bring enough water to stay hydrated, as well as sunscreen for protection.
The best way to prepare is to bring a recent topographic map with local landmarks.
Make sure you have all the supplies you need to stay comfortable while you go on your rockhounding adventures.
The first location you’ll want to visit is Thompson Peak, a key site for crystal collection.
There is a huge black Tourmaline deposit along the peak, with both the typical rose quartz crystals and more milky, lavender crystals.
To identify the black Tourmaline, look for slender crystals with grooves on the outside, with an obsidian-like appearance.
Rockhounds have compared its appearance to charcoal, in a crystal form.
The quartz will appear like a transparent crystal with a slightly rosy tint.
You may also spot epidote and feldspar in the area.
To get to the rockhounding quarries, you will need to follow older maps, rather than any phone GPS systems.
There is a 6-mile round-trip trail to Thompson Peak.
To get there from Susanville, you take US 395 S towards Lakecrest Rd.
After about nine miles, the turn-off will be on your right.
From there, you need to turn left onto Janesville Grade.
At this point, you will follow the road until you reach the trailhead.
You will be able to follow the trail signs to Thompson Peak.
For rockhounding, you can scavenge around the peak itself, as well as along the trail.
The roundtrip should take about three hours just to walk, so make sure you have plenty of time for hiking and collecting.
It is a moderately difficult hike with about a 1500 elevation gain.
This site is recommended for both amateur and experienced rockhounds.
Due to the length and rise in elevation, it is not recommended for families with young children.
If you choose to take younger or inexperienced rockhounds to this site, you will need to prepare for any emergencies with a first aid kit and extra water and food in case of exhaustion.
Murdock Crossing is a spring near a road junction.
You can find a large variety of quartz crystals in Murdock Crossing.
This area, due to its high density of streams and natural irrigation, can be a little difficult to collect rocks.
Quartz crystals are typically found in mud or clay deposits.
To get the best out of the experience, you will need adequate hiking boots that are water-resistant and slip-resistant.
This site is about an hour from Susanville.
To get there, take US Highway 395 S to Lakecrest Rd.
After that, you will need to turn right onto Janesville Grade, where you will stay for about five miles.
At that point, you take a slight left onto Rd 28 N 01 until it becomes Forest Rte 28 N 01.
Murdock Crossing should be about six miles down the road.
There isn’t a large collection of rocks at this site.
The majority of them are spread out throughout the area.
More experienced rockhounds are likely to enjoy this site, due to its mystery-like nature.
You are unlikely to find a good parking spot at this location, so you may need to pull off to the side.
The final part of the drive will be on a dirt road.
Consequently, you will need to make sure your car is prepared for the rough terrain.
The Hallelujah Junction area could be a little more difficult to rockhound because you will need permission from the owner of the claim before removing any rocks or crystals.
US Highway 395 S leads straight to the Hallelujah Junction area.
This spot has a variety of crystals, including quartz and amethyst.
The amethyst will appear similar to the quartz crystals, although there is a bit of difference in the formation.
The amethyst will usually appear in sharp peak formations or geodes in a purple color.
The shade of purple depends on the rock itself, so you will want to be careful not to ignore any suspected crystals.
If you are coming from Susanville, you will follow the highway for approximately 47 miles.
From there, you take N Red Rock rd for about ten miles.
Turn right, follow the road for nearly 2 miles, and then make a second right turn.
You will follow the path until you get to the actual site, which is Petersen Mountain.
The GPS coordinates are 39°47’45.0″N 119°58’35.0″W.
To successfully rockhound at this site, you will need some fairly extensive tools, including a rake or geo pick.
You will always want to bring a container to carry the crystals or rocks you collect, along with some type of packing material to prevent them from hitting each other and cracking.
Occasionally, you will need something like a small crowbar or screwdriver to pry the crystals out of the rock.
What to Know Before You Go
Like most rockhounding sites, you will need to prepare fully before even stepping out onto the path.
Both physical maps and topographic maps are useful tools, especially since many of these sites will not have Wi-Fi or cellphone service.
A compass will come in handy when you are reading the maps. In terms of personal gear, you will need to wear well-fitting hiking shoes, along with light clothing that is easy to get around in.
If you are choosing to go rockhounding during more stormy weather, make sure to bring appropriate clothing.
While most weather guides are fairly accurate, there are occasions with unpredictable extreme weather.
Bringing rain and cold weather gear can help prevent any unexpected mishaps.
Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and healthy food to stay energized for the duration of your trip.
You will want to bring the typical rockhounding gear, like picks and buckets for collecting.
If you are new to the hobby, a rock and crystal identification guide could be useful to you.
If you choose to bring one, just make sure you pack lightly to avoid draining your energy from the weight you are carrying.
Safety glasses are a key tool to minimize the danger of removing crystals from rock.
Don’t forget to prepare fully before your rockhounding trip! Get ready for a great rockhounding collection.
Have fun out there, rockhounds!
California Rockhounding Resources
If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:
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We are getting ready to go rockhounding near Palm Springs, we’ll let you know how it goes! Where are you headed next?
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