Marsh Creek State Historic Park is a state park of California, United States, located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park preserves an important archaeological site from prehistoric times which was occupied during several different time periods between 4,000 and 10,000-14,000 years ago. It lies within the boundaries of Lassen County and Tehama County with a small portion also belonging to Plumas County.
The main feature of this 1,530-acre (620ha) park is its 2.5 miles (4.0km) of hiking trails along old roadways that are now part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Other facilities include campsites, picnic areas, interpretive displays, and historic buildings. A trailhead for the Donut Hole Trail is accessible via Highway 299 at mile marker 38.7. Marsh Creek SHP is one end of the CUP-Jensen Unit of the Northern California Black Diamond Heritage Route, a National Park Service Regional Legacy Trail. This regional trail includes two other segments, both ends of the Pioneer Trails Center/Sierra Interpretive Center’s North Country Trail and portions of the Feather River Scenic Byway. T
he Marsh Creek segment connects with the Minnie Island Parkway in Redding and continues through Weaverville as the Donut Hole Trail before reaching the South Fork of the Feather River near Castella. The 3.75-mile (6.04km) Pioneer Trails Center / Sierra Interpretive Center loop trail starts at the south end of the Marsh Creek segment. It passes by the historic schoolhouse and then heads west on Buckland Road back to the junction with Highway 299. The 0.8-mile (1.3km) Donut Hole Trail climbs steeply up into the mountains to the north of Marsh Creek. Its name stems from its appearance, like a donut hole cut out of the side of the hill. At the top there are views of redwood forests stretching all the way back down the valley to where the headwaters of the creek originate. The trail drops off the ridge onto the forested slopes of Little Basin.
There it comes to an intersection with the Foothill Loop Trail, which forms the outer boundary of the Donut Hole habitat. From here the hiker has access to most of the major landmarks and features of the area including:
- Inspiration Point
- Hellhole Palms
- Wawona Tree
- Maidenhair Falls
- Lake Britton
- Rock Oak Flat
- Mineral King
- Sierra Vista Conference Center
The hike to the peak of Mt. Shasta is another option. On clear days the entire Sierra Nevada Range can be seen, including Mt. Whitney, Half Dome, and even Mount Shasta itself. Weather permitting, sailboats may be seen racing around the lake or fishing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. In winter visitors might see deer fawns, turkey vultures, and various raptors migrating overhead or feeding in the marshy flats below.
The park is located approximately four miles northeast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, about ten miles southeast of Mendocino Woodlands State Park. It contains over 14 miles (23km) of single-track roads and trails, much of it following narrow dirt roads that become more difficult to pass as they get older.
The park entrance is on Tyee Street just east of I-5. Parking lot and campground are to the left; visitor center, museum, and nature center are to the right. The museum complex is housed in what was once a private residence but is now a heritage building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Exhibits focus on indigenous peoples of the Americas, early pioneers, the natural environment, conservation issues, and outdoor recreation. The Nature Center hosts environmental education programs throughout the year. Volunteers staff the facility.
Marsh Creek State Historic Park provides excellent opportunities for viewing many species of birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates, plants, and trees. Visitors often spot deer fawns, harbor seals, river otters, mink, muskrat, beaver, coyote, weasel, and ground squirrels. Hikers can follow the paths of pioneer settlers who used the rugged terrain to their advantage. Some of these people made homes in the seemingly secure confines of the canyon bottoms while others utilized the flat lands near the creek margins to grow crops and herd livestock. The park offers easy access to miles of hiking trails leading up into the surrounding wilderness and back down into the bottoms again.
Over 700 acres (280ha) of land have been set aside for wildlife, including:
- black-tailed deer
These animals live alongside smaller mammals such as:
Birds observed at the park include:
- bald eagles