This sturdy metal bridge joins the Canyon Trail to the Old Paul Bunyan Logging road. Photos by Brian Walters

The work of Lassen’s Interagency Trail Coordinator

Lassen County and the Susanville area have some of the best trails in Northern California, from the Bizz Johnson to Susanville’s Ranch Park, to name a few. Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians can all find something for them along the local trail systems.

There is one guy who has overseen the maintenance and care for some of these trails, and that’s Matt McLain.

McLain took over the role of Interagency Trail Coordinator back in 2016 after Joel Rathje retired, and the work he provides is important to the health and well-being of Lassen County’s best outdoor areas.

Specifically, McLain is in charge of the upkeep of Ranch Park, its parking lot, the adjacent softball fields and the facilities. Additionally, he assists with the events held there, including the Paiute Meadow Trail Run marathon and the Ridin’ High at the Ranch mountain bike race.

Planning and development are also part of McLain’s position as he works to get new trails in and around the Susanville area. Many are in planning and the community is sure to hear about some in the next few years.

While McLain does a majority of the maintenance himself, he gives credit to the many volunteers who have helped throughout the years to keep the trails available to everybody. Volunteers included folks at SABA, Frank Winters, Mark Kovacic, and local marathon coordinator Linda Powell who oversees most of Susanville and Lassen County’s marathons every year.

Additional credit goes to organizations such as AmeriCorp NCCC, which is a network of national service volunteer programs, that have helped McLain in the past with trail upkeep. He also partners with Stan Bales, an outdoor recreation planner with the BLM Eagle Lake office.

Another big part of McLain’s work is getting word from the community on any damage or problems on the 29 miles of trails at Susanville’s Ranch Park. So if you happen to spot him out in Ranch Park, let him know of any potential damage that may affect the trails and those using them.

While the snow has dampened the chances of getting out on the trails for the foreseeable future, McLain urges those to not use the trails if they are muddy, as tracks can be left in them that can do substantial damage to the trails and the drains in place that prevent any erosion due to run off.

“It just takes one person on a bike, foot, or horseback to damage the trails for everybody,” McLain said. “But while everything is closing, such as gyms, the trails are a good choice.”