By Melissa Wynn
Sometimes the everyday pressures of life become overwhelming and we need to get away for awhile to get a fresh perspective. On a sunny May afternoon, a girlfriend and I loaded up an overnight bag and went in search of the sound of silence. After soaking in the beauty of the forest along Hwy 36, we decided to turn on Hwy 172 at Mineral and see what Mill Creek Resort, just 5 miles off Hwy 36, had to offer. I had often heard they make a great burger. The minute I stepped out of the car in the parking lot, I knew we were in the right place. A warm breeze caressed my face and the only sounds were a soothing gurgle from the brook behind the cabins and the call of a bossy blue jay announcing our arrival. The air was thick with the scent of the pines awakening from the long snowy winter and my spirits were instantly lifted.
Upon entering the main building that houses the store, restaurant/soda fountain and cabin/RV/tent site check-in and post office, I immediately felt at home. Owner Georgene Neher greeted us with a sunny smile; like we were old friends she was excited to see again. Her jolly husband and co-owner, Terry, was in the back flipping burgers. The hearty aromas that filled the room quickly reminded my tummy that it was lunch time. I chose the Lassen Bacon Cheeseburger ($6.95), slathered in sweet BBQ sauce, with the works and fries ($2). Lorraine opted for the Creekside Club ($7.95), a thick turkey blt, with a pile of Terry’s crispy onion rings ($2.95). Although we could have lunched on the sunny deck that overlooks the playground and grassy alpine meadow, I was moved to stay indoors and study the unique decor of this simple laid-back mountain getaway. Terry has a large collection of M&M memorabilia that has taken him several years to acquire. Return guests often gift him additions to his fun jumble of M&M characters. The antique cook stove and cooler whisper that little changes in this quiet, hidden place, but the visitors, like us, building their own mountain memories.
After lunch, Lorraine and I spent several hours sitting on the tiny bridge behind our cabin, dangling our feet above the dancing water, relishing the songs of birds, frogs and the healing silence we had set out to find.
As the day grew later, we decided to drive down Hwy 172 to see what we would find. What a score! Just a few bends in the road from Mill Creek Resort is the turnoff to ‘Hole In The Ground Campground’ and the beginning of the long trek into the mysterious Ishi Wilderness. I wished we had come this way in time to go down and wander about. Oh well, maybe next time. Another mile or two down the winding Hwy 172 we were thrilled to come across a thundering falls. We made our visit when spring run-off is at its peak, so the falls were in their prime. These majestic falls often run strong into mid July, during years following good snowfall. This year they are sure to flow well into summer. WooHoo! We parked the car and sat on the ledge, right at the base, for a long time, letting this marvel in nature dampen our shoes with droplets and mist created by waters rough tumble down the hillside. WOW! Moss covered rocks and slick, weeping walls dot the sides of the road along the way as Hwy 172 winds back up to Hwy 36 at the Mineral Lodge. We made another roadside stop just before the intersection, to listen to a chorus of frogs that sounded hundreds strong. The whole mountain wildlife population seemed to be celebrating the arrival of the summer season.
Back at our simple creekside cabin, we heated a can of soup in the fully stocked kitchen and curled up on the futon to look through photos we snapped throughout the day. They were post card beauties, one after another, and we didn’t even venture up to nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. Please visit our website, mountainvalleyliving.com, to view the full album from our road trip. Eventually, the lure of our waiting log beds enticed us to crawl in beneath the quilts and rest our dreamy heads on the puffy pillows.
Before departing we chatted with Terry awhile about the many creeks nearby that draw fly fisherman from around the globe. Mill Creek itself is catch and release only, but several “keeper” creeks are but a stone,s throw away, including Battle and Deer Creeks. I have a hard time imagining a better meal than a fresh trout from an icy mountain stream, cooked over a campfire, in a shady campsite, at Mill Creek Resort.
Cabin rates are reasonable, beginning at $80 nightly for a one bedroom unit and topping out at $660 for an entire week in a two bedroom unit with up to four people. RV rates for full hook ups are $25 daily, $150 weekly and a month will only run you $325. $300 for three or more months. The campground sites are $16 nightly, with a two vehicle/ eight person limit. Public showers, flush toilets and plenty of water are available on site.
Georgene and Terry have been at Mill Creek Resort for well over 25 years. They started this year round getaway with their parents and raised their two children, daughter, Kelly and son, Jake, at Mill Creek Resort. They are still there today waiting to take your reservation to experience their gracious hospitality; whether you visit for summer fishing or endless winter play.Visit their website millcreekresort.net or give them a call at 888-595-4449 and build your own treasured mountain memories at Mill Creek Resort.