We work hard all week and it’s important to spend our days off enjoying life. If you choose to enjoy those days in the great outdoors, Siskiyou County offers some of the most diverse and beautiful wilderness areas in the United States and a road trip through California’s Far North is the perfect way to find some Northern California adventures.
We’ve compiled the perfect Siskiyou County road trip for outdoor adventurers which includes just four hours of driving and views of multiple caves, two wildlife refuges, a gorgeous lake, four waterfalls and, of course, the mighty Mount Shasta. Here’s a breakdown of the trip:
Let’s take an epic road trip through Siskiyou County:
Lava Beds National Monument
The Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geologic and historic. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. Lava tube caves, Native American sites, historic battlefields and a high desert wilderness experience highlight an adventurous trip to the park.
At the Lava Beds National Monument, you can enjoy a caving adventure in any of the 20 developed lava tube caves that are open to the public along with an incredible historic experience. You can see a wall of stone with petroglyphs that are dated as far back as 6,000 years old at Petroglyph Point or experience a free GPS-enabled immersive audio tour which will walk you through the details of the Modoc War from Klamath Falls to the Lava Beds National Monument.
Tule Lake & Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges
As you drive west through Siskiyou County, you can stop at one of the premiere birding destinations on the West Coast. Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges are something of a bird Mecca and make for a quick road trip stop to see some breathtaking wildlife.
Just below the Oregon state line near Newell, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge has a lot of open water and leased crop lands, attracting primarily water birds. Within the refuge is a 12-mile (paved and unpaved) all-season road kept open to wildlife viewing all year long. There are also two hiking trails for viewing wildlife eyeball to eyeball, the Sheepy Ridge Trail and the Discovery Marsh Trail.
As you continue to head west, a stop at America’s very first designated National Wildlife Refuge is on the itinerary. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 and a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The Klamath has about 3,100 acres of wetland habitat, making it a great spot for finding waterfowl in the winter. The area’s 8,000 acres of upland habitat also makes it a great spot to find birds like the Western Tanager in the spring.
As you continue down Highway 97 north towards Mount Shasta, there’s an ancient lava tube that can give you a unique underground experience.
Just on the north side of Mount Shasta sits Pluto’s Cave, an ancient lava tube that zig-zags in and out of the ground to provide an awesome outdoor experience in Siskiyou County. The hike is short and your greeted with three distinct caves that are massive, all unique and providing ample opportunities for exploration and photography.
As you head down into the Mount Shasta, you’re going to need a place to stay right? Look no further than LOGE Camps, Mount Shasta’s brand-new hotel built specifically for outdoor adventurers. When you enter the hotel rooms, you’re greeted with bike and ski racks, Yeti coolers and a hammock going across the room.
Nestled right in downtown Mount Shasta, this hotel will give you all the accommodations you need for your outdoor adventure and provide you with comfort and entertainment at the end of the day. It may just be the most unique hotel around!
Now that you’re nice and rested, you can head up to the mighty Mount Shasta to get an up close view and maybe do some hiking in the summer or backcountry skiing in the winter.
Near the end of the Everitt Memorial Highway sits Bunny Flat, known to many as the gateway to the Mount Shasta wilderness. A convenient parking lot can give you access to the popular ski areas on the mountain like Avalanche Gulch, or head up the way to popular hiking areas like Panther Meadows.
There are so many wilderness areas at you disposal from Bunny Flat. Here’s where you can find it:
As you head just north of Mount Shasta, there’s a fantastic lake that offers limitless outdoor activities and unparalleled views. You’ve probably seen photos of Lake Siskiyou with Mount Shasta hovering in the background and it’s a view you’ll never tire of when visiting in person.
In the winter, you can find a desolate experience at the lake, where you can hike around to find Shasta views or maybe even bike the Lake Siskiyou Loop. In the summer, there are opportunities for motor boating, windsurfing, sun bathing, fishing, pedal boating, rock climbing, paddle boarding and of course, swimming. The resort offers inexpensive rentals of canoes, life jackets, double and single kayaks and paddleboards, so there’s no need buy or lug expensive equipment out to the resort. Also, fishing remains a popular activity on the lake where anglers can lure rainbow and brown trout as well as bass.
Heading south from Mount Shasta, you’ll enter the Land of Waterfalls where you can find some of the most beautiful falls with easy hikes.
In McCloud, California sits one of the premiere outdoor destinations in Northern California. The three tiers of McCloud Falls offers visitors three beautiful and unique waterfalls within a short hike. It’s the perfect place to bring the family to swim and enjoy the great outdoors.
If you start at the bottom at Lower McCloud Falls, it’s about an easy 3-mile hike to see Middle and Upper McCloud Falls. The three waterfalls are unique in their own right, with the massive Middle McCloud Falls sitting as the centerpiece of the beautiful hike.
Hedge Creek Falls
It’s the end of the road trip and you’re tired. What better to finish you trip than a short, relaxing hike to a waterfall flowing over a cave.
Similar to hideout entrances seen in Batman movies and the Legend of Zorro, Hedge Creek Falls cascades in front of the passage to a 12-foot-high cave. The narrow waterfall hardly obscures the not-so-secret cave meaning that you won’t stumble upon any masked heroes on your trip to the feature. Still, the trip the Hedge Creek Falls is well worth the drive the Dunsmuir, CA. Along with the waterfall, visitors can take in incredible views of the Sacramento River and Mt. Shasta from the Hedge Creek Falls Trail.
Have fun on your epic road trip through Siskiyou County!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine