Siskiyou is Open! Here Are 7 Ways to Experience California’s Far North

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou

Photo by Stephen Leonardi

Siskiyou County is open! Following a year of travel restrictions due to Covid, Northern California’s outdoor utopia is back open and primed for an adventure. There’s a smorgasbord of adventure you can have surrounding the mighty Mount Shasta, and we’ve created some ideas to help you enjoy it the right way.

Before we get into the fun you can have in Siskiyou, be sure to research and follow any Covid protocols in place at local hotels, restaurants and businesses. Help Siskiyou stay open!

Now, let’s get to the fun you can have in Siskiyou County! Here are 7 ways to enjoy California’s Far North:

Go on a Biking Excursion

Siskiyou County is one of the most popular biking destinations in the world. From relaxed rides with stellar views, to rugged mountain biking adventures, there’s a bike ride for everyone in the area. Filled with Mount Shasta views, small-town vibes, great local bike shops and high-alpine rides, the wide-open space in Siskiyou County can give any bike rider the outdoor experience they’re looking for.

Here are a few of our favorite biking routes in the area:

Lake Siskiyou Loop

Nestled at the foot of the Trinity Divide and enjoying outstanding views of Mount Shasta, Lake Siskiyou is one of the prettiest reservoirs in Northern California. The lake is one of the premier features of Mount Shasta City, a community that boasts cornucopia of outdoor attractions.

Learn more

McCloud to Mt. Shasta Loop

This route starts and ends in McCloud. The suggested direction is to ride out 89 (watch for fast traffic) to Mt Shasta Blvd and then up Old McCloud (FS 31). That way you get to enjoy the fast and smooth downhill on 89 into Mt Shasta and then climb up the bumpy and in places, deteriorating Old McCloud/Forest Service 31. This ride is mostly good road with just a 2 – 4 miles of Old McCloud being rough road and gravel in a few places where it has fallen apart.

Learn more

Mt. Shasta Mountain Bike Park

Experience the Mt Shasta Mountain Bike Park, with trails designed to be enjoyed at all riding levels. Enjoy a unique and one of kind riding experience with 15 trails, a new Skills Park and a variety of new features, there will be live music and fun events going on all summer.

Learn more

Here are 11 Gorgeous Routes for Any Type of Biker in Siskiyou County

Experience Whitewater Adventures

If you want to find some epic whitewater in Siskiyou, you have three great choices that offers all types of rapids, including Class I all the way up to Class V rapids. Let’s break down the best options for a whitewater adventure in Siskiyou County:

Klamath River

The Wild and Scenic Klamath River is the second largest river in California and features more than 180 miles of premier whitewater rafting. To see all of the rapids, you’ll have to endure a 2 to 3 day trip, camping along the way. The trip includes over 30 rapids ranging from Class III to IV+, including two rapids each over a football field long.

The Klamath River begins in Southern Oregon and moves down into NorCal through the rugged Siskiyou Mountains. The upper section begins near Ashland, Oregon and ends all the way down into California at Copco Lake. The lower section begins in Happy Camp and is one of the most well-loved trips for families with small children. The remote stretch of the “Lower K” is full of wildlife and even includes a side hike to Ukonom Falls. Watch out for Bigfoot, since this is where legends place his origins.

Learn more about whitewater rafting on the Klamath River

Upper Sacramento River

The Sacramento River is one of the staple tributaries of Northern California, bursting out of the ground at the base of Mount Shasta and running all the way down into the San Francisco Bay. While most of the river is calm, the upper stretches prove to be one of the great rafting spots in NorCal.

The water on the Upper Sac is perfect in the early summer and springtime, giving rafters continuous Class III rapids as they make their way through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, with views of Mount Shasta and Castle Crags. You’re also guaranteed to see some spectacular wildlife as well as some big fish while you’re floating on one of California’s best fisheries.

Learn more about the rafting trip on the Upper Sacramento River

Cal Salmon

The California Salmon River, otherwise known as the Cal Salmon, is no doubt one of Northern California’s best kept secrets. Located in a remote wilderness area just south of the Marble Mountains, the Cal Salmon runs through deep canyon walls creating legendary Class IV and V rapids throughout three forks of the river. The river is free flowing and is usually best rafted in the spring, but you can also do it in the winter.

While the rapids are enough to make this run entirely worth the long haul into the NorCal wilderness, the scenery is no doubt the icing on the cake. Frequent wildlife sightings of black bear, deer, and many species of birds, found amidst a dense, lush forest, and snow covered mountains.

Learn more about rafting on the Cal Salmon

Catch Small-Town Vibes

Siskiyou has some of the most unique small towns in California. With the backdrop of some of Northern California’s most beautiful outdoor destinations, the small towns of Siskiyou offer a lot of charm, as well as some fascinating history. In terms of places to stay, there are six awesomely unique small towns that are great for a weekend trip:

Mt. Shasta

hen people think of Siskiyou County, Mt. Shasta is typically the first place that comes to mind. The town sits nestled under the shadow of Mount Shasta and is typically known as the basecamp for adventure surrounding the volcano. With its proximity to the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Lake Siskiyou and south facing trails on the mountain, Mt. Shasta is the perfect place to stay for anyone looking for an adventure. But spend a little time in town and you’re sure to be surprised by its unique vibes.

Lining Mt. Shasta Blvd through downtown is an array of tasty restaurants, fun bars, adventure shops and the famous “crystal shops” in town. The downtown area is a fun place to wander around for the day and mingle with the incredibly friendly locals in town. It’s also a short drive from Lake Siskiyou, the Mount Shasta Resort Golf Course, Heart and Castle lakes and Bunny Flats.

Etna

Who knew there was so much to do in the middle of nowhere? Etna is located approximately 30 minutes west of Yreka and is a popular stop for Pacific Crest Trail hikers traveling through the area. The Scott Valley area is great for hiking, biking and camping in the Marble Mountains, and Etna makes for the perfect basecamp for your adventure in the mountains.

Even as a small town at the base of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, Etna packs a big punch in terms of things to do in the downtown area. The most popular destination is Denny Bar, which sits as a fantastic restaurant, bar and distillery sitting right in the middle of town. You can also visit Paystreak Brewing Co., serving up craft beer made on stie.

Dunsmuir

Stepping into Dunsmuir is like taking a time machine back into the 1920’s. The downtown area has kept the same vibe for nearly a century with plenty to do in the region. Along with historic structures and beautiful murals, the town has plenty to explore nearby including Hedge Creek Falls and Castle Crags.

Situated along the Upper Sacramento River just below Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir’s official town slogan is “Home of the Best Water on Earth.” Fly fishermen come from all over to catch the wild trout of the river and enjoy the small-town vibes of downtown. The town is easily walkable and includes great food at Yaks on the 5 and delicious craft beer at Dunsmuir Brewery Works.

McCloud

The town of McCloud, conveniently located just 20 minutes from Interstate 5 in southern Siskiyou, is primarily known as the home of McCloud Falls. That designation is warranted, since the three waterfalls of McCloud might be the most spectacular outdoor destination in Northern California. But this small town has so much more to offer, nestled beautifully under the shadow of the mighty Mount Shasta.

For food and drink, be sure to stop by the Siskiyou Brew Works, which has a ton of craft beer on tap and delicious pizza to grub on. You can also enjoy a nice round of golf under the mountain at the McCloud Golf Club, which provides an alternative to the popular outdoor destinations along the McCloud River.

The well-known historic hotel of the town of McCloud is McCloud Mercantile, which opened in 1897 as a store and hotel for the mill workers at the McCloud River Lumber Company and their families. Today, the hotel and store remain a mainstay in the town of McCloud, attracting visitors from all over the west coast to enjoy the town’s history and shop the unique vintage lines that are still available in the store.

Weed

You see many people snicker when you bring up Weed, California. After all, it seems to be named after Cheech and Chong’s favorite pastime. In fact, Netflix named the town as funniest towns in America. Over the past couple of decades, the town has banked on its funny name with numerous gift shops slanging swag with “I Heart Weed, California” on the front. In fact, the town’s brewery, Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., made national headlines with its marketing campaign “Try Legal Weed.”

But Weed, California is so much more than it’s funny name.

This beloved small town was the namesake of Abner Weed, who built his lumber yard approximately five miles north of Black Butte, catching the winds descending down the mountain and drying his green lumber very quickly. Today, the town remains a historic symbol of the once wild west era of Siskiyou County.

Popular places to eat and drink in town include the Hi-Lo Cafe and Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., which both serve up great food and drinks throughout the day. A great place to stay in the area is Stewart Mineral Springs, a retreat and wellness center that offers an environment of sacred mineral waters, affordable accommodations, and a variety of workshops and retreats. The holistic experience at the resort includes private mineral baths, a wood-burning sauna and cool river plunges.

Yreka

If you’re looking for a historic vibe in California’s Far North, a stay in Yreka is just what you’re looking for.

The small town of Yreka, California, sitting just to the north of the mighty Mount Shasta, has a prominent history in the early settlings of Northern California. As a crucial stopping point along the Siskiyou Trail, gold was found nearby and 2,000 gold miners quickly settled into the area in 1851. According to Mark Twain, the town was named as a misspelled palindrome of the word “bakery.”

A walk through Yreka’s historic district will give you plenty to do, including a visit to the Siskiyou County Museum which offers a plethora of educational opportunities for history buffs. You can stop for a beer and food at the Etna Brewing Co or grab some delicious eats at the Miner Street Meat Market. You’ll find plenty of historic sites along the way.

Chase Waterfalls

Photo by Ian Chen

Calling Siskiyou County the Land of Waterfalls is fitting, since there seems to be one around every corner surrounding the mighty Mount Shasta. The active volcano certainly adds to this insane amount of falling water, providing year-round snowmelt and bursting springs all over to create 18 stunning waterfalls in the area. Some are big and some are small, some are remote and some are popular destinations, some are little known and some are world-renown.

Check out this map of all waterfalls you can explore:

Here are a few of the most popular waterfalls in the area:

Middle McCloud Falls

Middle McCloud Falls is the largest and most popular of the three McCloud waterfalls. The large pool below creates a fantastic swimming hole and the shear size and symmetry of the waterfall make it the perfect location for photographers.

This destination will be rather full with visitors during the summer but can give anyone spectacular views any season. Here’s our trip to the famous waterfall:

Faery Falls

Combining history and nature, the Ney Springs Canyon Trail near Siskiyou Lake in Mount Shasta City is an easy hike through the 19th century ruins of Ney Springs Resort with a waterfall payoff. With the length of the trail being only 1.2 miles at a low-elevation, this is an easy hike that can be done any time of the year.

A little over 3/4 of the way up the trail, you will find the old ruins of the Ney Springs Resort, a popular destination for local tourists in the 1800’s. From there on continue approximately 0.25 miles down the trail to gain access to Faery Falls. Depending on water flows, you will find a lively 40-ft cataract with a great vantage point.

Read about the historic hike to Faery Falls

Hedge Creek Falls

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.

As you begin, the path starts to descend moderately, and you pass a tiny creek. As the grade of the canyon gets steeper, you begin to go down via a number of switchbacks until you’ll start to hear flowing and falling water. Before you know it, you’re at Hedge Creek Falls. At this point, the trail continues behind the waterfall providing an intimate feel for hikers. Somedays, you can spot rock climbers attempting to ascend the igneous rock wall that reaches 30-35 feet to the source of the cascade.

Learn more about Hedge Creek Falls

Road Trip with Volcanic Views

Roughly a hundred miles of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (VLSB) stretches through NorCal’s Siskiyou County, celebrating our immensely beautiful volcanic surrounding. Of course, the best way to enjoy this stretch of highway is a good ole’ fashioned road trip. This follows Highway 89 north to the I-5 corridor, then through Weed and up Highway 97 all the way up to the Oregon border.

So here’s the thing: If there’s even a possibility we may be going out in a fiery volcanic eruption at some point anyway, there’s no reason to sit around making absolutely sure your sofa doesn’t drift off into outer space in the meantime. Get out there, be active, and discover what the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway in Siskiyou County has to offer.

Learn more about the volcanic road trip through Siskiyou County

Visit a Brewery

There are few things that hand-in-hand with the outdoors, but as we’ve learned over the years, there’s nothing quite like a craft beer after a long hike or a day on the mountain. There are 5 breweries in Siskiyou County that serve up some delicious suds – Paystreak Brewing, Etna Brewery, Mt. Shasta Brewing, Siskiyou brew Works and Dunsmuir Brewery Works.

With Siskiyou County’s endless opportunity for outdoor adventure, it also packs with it some of the best craft beer in Northern California. The five breweries of Far NorCal make for a great trail to explore the vast and beautiful region of Siskiyou County.

Learn more about the 5 breweries on the Siskiyou Beer Trail

Discover Historic Roots

When gold was discovered in the American River in the 1800’s, it completely changed the landscape of the United States. People flocked to Northern California from all over the world to try their luck of striking it rich during the Gold Rush. One area popular for those people was the lush wilderness of what is today known as Siskiyou County, which transformed into a Wild West world into the early 1900’s.

From the Native American activity to the mid-1800’s settlers to World War II, the area is jam-packed with a fascinating history that tells the story of a growing America.

Here are 9 Fascinating Historical Gems to Visit in Siskiyou County

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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