How to Hike Like a Local in California’s Far North

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou

Photo by Stephen Leonardi 

If you ask any local in Siskiyou County, there’s no better place on the planet for outdoor recreation. With the mighty Mount Shasta sitting as a centerpiece, the area is full of massive peaks, lush meadows, pristine rivers, gorgeous lakes and too many waterfalls to count. It’s truly one of the great destinations in Northern California.

A quick search on this website for “Siskiyou County” will yield plenty of places to visit and hike in the area. For our money, destinations like McCloud Falls, Heart Lake, Lava Beds National Monument, Lake Siskiyou and Mt. Shasta Ski Park can’t be beat. But there’s so much more to do. For a complete resource of outdoor activities in Siskiyou, go here.

With great beauty comes great visitation, with excited adventurers traveling from all over to experience California’s Far North. In order for everyone to enjoy that beauty, we must treat the area with the same respect the locals do. Here are some tips on how to hike like a local in Siskiyou County:

Pack It In, Pack It Out

You’ve probably heard the term “Pack It In, Pack It Out” a lot and rightfully so. It’s the simplest way to explain that you should bring as much out with you as you brought in. That being said, there’s some confusion behind this tactic.

Despite misconceptions, you should pack out any biodegradable food leftovers that you brought in. That includes apple cores, banana skins and orange peels. Although they would eventually decompose along the trail, it could take up to 10 weeks. Imagine if everyone dropped their biodegradable waste along the trail, it would look like a dump. Of course, trash of any kind should also be brought out. Bring a trash bag on your hike to make sure you can easily clean up after yourself.

That brings us to the uncomfortable topic of solid human waste. Of course, that’s not something you can pack out. It’s recommended to bury that waste 6-8 inches deep in the ground at least 200 feet from any water source. Also pack out any TP or bury any biodegradable/natural TP. For pet waste, pack it out like you were at a city park.

Stay on the Trail

There are some places in the outdoors where you can venture off the trail for a more natural experience, but for the most part, staying on the trail is important for a few different reasons. Local organizations spend a lot of time and money creating trails that are clean and safe. Venturing off the trail can damage these carefully manicured trails, leading to future repairs and current dangers.

Hiking off the trail can also cause harm to the local ecosystem of Siskiyou County. Going off trail can damage or kill certain plant or animal species. It’s also an eyesore for those trying to enjoy the trail’s beauty. Those trails were put in place for optimal recreation, so enjoy them that way.

Finally, going off trail can be dangerous and could require local resources to help save you in the event you were injured. Which brings us to our next tip…

Safety First!

Photo by Walther Nunez

Outdoor recreation is an adventure, and most adventures require a little danger. That being said, it’s important to be safe in the great outdoors both for your well being, as well as the well being of other hikers and rescue officials in the area. If you get lost/injured, you’ll likely have to put a rescue official in danger to extract you from the area. If you run out of essential supplies, you may have to borrow some from a fellow hiker, which could put them at danger.

The easiest way to stay safe is to mind weather and trail conditions, and never push yourself into an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes turning around is your best option, even though it’s a difficult pill to swallow. You should also be sure to have the proper equipment including hiking shoes and socks, navigation tools, extra layers, plenty of water and a first-aid kit.

It’s never recommended to hike alone, but if you do, be sure to alert a friend/family member of your intended whereabouts and create an emergency plan for the worst case scenario. Remember that if you make a mistake in the wilderness, you could put yourself and others in danger. Use the Golden Rule in the outdoors.

Be Fire Aware

Photo by Adam Wilson

Human-caused fires have led to millions of acres of burnt land in the past couple of years in Northern California, which have led to millions of dollars in property damage and the loss of lives of both firefighters and civilians alike. Especially during fire season, it’s incredibly important that you don’t add to the problem.

Check all the fire regulations before going out it the wilderness. During NorCal’s fire season, it’s likely that campfires are strictly prohibited. In the middle of nowhere on a chilly evening in the wilderness, it might seem harmless to build a small fire, but it’s not worth the potential damage done to the area (and massive fine you’ll have to pay if you get caught).

Having a lighter/matches in the the wilderness can be a helpful tool, but it’s important to know the dangers of wildfires right now. Only use them for an important situation and be very careful it doesn’t cause a spark into the nearby forested area. Remember, the locals that live in Siskiyou could be impacted tremendously if a wildfire is sparked nearby.

Drink, Eat and Shop Local!

While you prepare for your adventure or after you finish, be sure to support the local businesses that help make your trip that much better. Need food and drink for your trip? Stop by a local grocer to load up on supplies. Need some outdoor gear? There’s plenty of local shops ready to supply you with anything you need. Want some tips or maps? The local outdoor outfitters are ready to help.

When you’re done with your trip, stop into one of the many restaurants, bars and breweries in Siskiyou County to support the locals that help make the area great. Remember, these are the same people who volunteer their time to work trails and rescue anyone in need. Put some money into the local economy as a thanks you for keeping their outdoor areas so pristine.

California’s Far North is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. Now go enjoy it like a local!

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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