Home Local Events The 19th Annual Rails to Trails Festival

The 19th Annual Rails to Trails Festival


Lassen Land and Trails Trust is sponsoring the 19th annual Rails to Trails Festival, October 8th, from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Historic Susanville Railroad Depot.

The festival is held each fall to celebrate the rail-trail conversion of the Bizz Johnson Trail and features historic handcar races, a chili cook-off and salsa contest, a craft fair and live music.

The Rails to Trails Festival Chili Cook-off and Salsa Contest is a great way for the community to showcase their cooking talents. Over 15 chili and salsa entries come together under one tent in a friendly competition to take home the judges awards and/or people’s choice. The tasting runs from noon to 2:00pm and is a fun and tasty way to enjoy the festival.

The main attraction is always the historic railway handcar races. The historic handcars were used by railroad maintenance workers to move up and down the tracks. The handcar design consists of a seesaw-like arm, which the competitors alternately push down and pull up to move the 900 pound handcar. Teams consist of 5 members, 4 pumpers and 1 pusher. Race categories include Women’s, Men’s, Coed, and Masters (50 years old and over).

Lassen Land and Trails Trust’s race is the only side-by-side handcar race in California, with parallel tracks stretching over ¼ mile. Teams race against each other and the clock to become  local legends.

In addition to these exciting competitions, this year’s festival features live bluegrass music by Wild Horse Drive. There will also be craft vendors featuring a variety of one-of-a-kind items, great for gift giving. Stop by, taste some chili, grab a cold beer, enjoy the entertainment and cheer on your favorite handcar team.


The annual event, held in conjunction with the Bizz Johnson Marathon, supports Lassen Land and Trails Trust’s mission to conserve significant natural areas and working landscapes and to promote and enhance a system of leading public trails in northeastern California. Lassen Land and Trails Trust is a non-profit membership-based organization, which will celebrate 25 years of service to northeastern California in 2012.

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