The Big Bald Rock Trail takes you atop a broad granite dome in Plumas National Forest where you have wide-ranging views across the Northern Sierra Nevada. It’s an easy hike with a big payoff!
Big Bald Rock Trail Key Data
Distance: up to 2.0 miles roundtrip
Type: day hike
Elevation gain: 250 feet
High point: 3350 feet
Season: year-round; occasional winter snow
Contact: Feather River Ranger District, Plumas National Forest, 530-534-6500
Maps: USGS Big Bend Mountain
Permits: no permit needed
Big Bald Rock Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 39 38.764 W 121 20.461
Notes: dogs allowed; toilet at trailhead
Big Bald Rock Trailhead Directions
Take the Oroville Dam Boulevard/Highway 162 exit off Highway 70 in Oroville, and then head northeast on Oroville Dam Boulevard East. Follow signs for Highway 162 (the Oroville-Quincy Highway) and drive a total of 17.8 miles from Highway 70, and then turn right onto Bald Rock Road (which is about 0.4 mile past Berry Creek Road and a Butte County fire station). Continue on Bald Rock Road for 5.8 miles to the signed turnoff on the left for the trailhead. Go left for the final 0.1 mile to the trailhead.
Geology of Big Bald Rock
Big Bald Rock began millions of years ago as an underground swelling of hot magma. Over the eons this magma slowly cooled to form granite. Erosion eventually exposed the bare rock from which this prominent feature, a granite dome, gains its name.
Hiking the Big Bald Rock Trail
Ample rewards repay the drive to the trailhead. There isn’t much actual trail, but once on top of Big Bald Rock you can wander where you will. The trail begins between an incense cedar tree and a dogwood tree at the west side of the parking lot, and for most of its 0.25-mile length it follows a seasonal creek. If you see foot-long cones on the ground, they came from the sugar pines towering high above you.
Once the trail ends it’s easy to see the way to the top: just keep climbing up the granite, picking and choosing the best way. Make sure you note where the trail ends so you can easily find it when it’s time to return to the trailhead.
Big Bald Rock offers magnificent views in all directions. The tree-covered mountains of Plumas National Forest surround it, and the fertile fields of the Sacramento Valley lie to the west. As you wander around the 200 or so exposed acres of granite, you’ll get a close-up look at nearby terrain. Be careful of your footing; sometimes slippery grains of decomposed granite can be hard to see when walking on sloping rock.
More Northern Sierra Nevada Hiking Trails
My book 100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, fourth edition, covers 27 day hikes and backpacking trips on the trails of the Northern Sierra Nevada. Here are the ones in and near Plumas National Forest:
22. Sierra Buttes Trail, Tahoe National Forest
23. Mount Elwell and Lakes Basin Trails, Plumas National Forest
24. Smith Lake to Wades Lake, Plumas National Forest
25. Feather Falls Trail, Plumas National Forest
26. Deer Creek, Lassen National Forest
27. Mill Creek Trail Near Ishi Wilderness, Lassen National Forest
Highlighted trails link to full descriptions like the one you see here.
Your Take on the Big Bald Rock Trail
Share your views in the comments below.