From Sacramento

From Sacramento drive north on Highway 99 to the town of Chico. Once reaching Chico, exit onto Hwy 32 toward Chester and proceed 40 miles east on Hwy 32 to the "Red Bridge." A small parking area is available on the north-side of the bridge (just after you cross the bridge).


Fly Fishing Deer Creek (Lassen National Forest / Ishi Wilderness)

Deer Creek flows throught Lassen National Forest in California

The headwaters of Deer Creek form out of the Southern Cascades, just north of the Mountain Meadows area. The Ishi Wilderness covers 41,840 acres and is bordered by Mill Creek Canyon in the north and Deer Creek Canyon in the south.

Fly Fishing Deer Creek in Lassen National Forest provides habitat to Spring run Chinook Salmon

In reality a small river, Deer Creek is probably best known as one of the last streams in the northern Sierra that still supports threatened spring run chinook salmon and winter steelhead. Most other Sierra rivers have been blocked by dams, but Deer Creek, and a handful of other Sacramento River tributaries (Battle Creek, Antelope Creek, Mill Creek, Big Chico Creek, and Butte Creek) still provides habitat for these migrating fish.

Chinook salmon spawning migration underwater

The spring-run population in Deer Creek is one of only three or four remaining naturally spawning spring-run chinook populations in California which can be considered genetically intact and demographically viable (DFG 1990) -- two other such populations with the Central Valley drainage being in Mill and Butte Creeks.

Deer Creek Lower Falls flows fast in a steep canyon

Besides providing critical spawning and rearing habitat for native salmon and trout, the Deer Creek watershed is also essential winter range for portions of the Tehama deer herd and many other species of wildlife. Migratory birds and wintering raptors also take advantage of the pristine condition of the creek and surrounding areas.

Deer Creek in California flows through the Ishi Wilderness

The volcanic past of the Ishi Wilderness is evident in the numerous basalt formations which line the canyons here. Most of the formations are pinnacles of hardened lava. The most dramatic of these formations can be seem in Deer Creek Canyon. As you hike/fish along Deer Creek remember to look up and the canyon will reveal these features.

Deer Creek in California provides critical stream habitat to Spring Chinook salmon.

The Last Retreat of 5 Yahi Indians on Deer Creek

There were, it is believed, only five Yahi left to make the withdrawal from Mill Creek to Deer Creek, each step of which was a surrender of another piece of heartland, of oak stand, meadow land, fishing place, and upland hunting ground. There remained to them when they at last put down their baskets only two separate but closely adjacent tracts of land on the south side of Deer Creek Canyon, which they might with some reason call their own and occupy with relative security.

Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber  

Deer Creek Trail off Highway 32 follows this scenic stream in California