NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Exploring The Klamath National Forest


The Klamath National Forest consists of 1.7 million acres of land measuring approximately 100 miles wide and 85 miles long. It borders Six Rivers National Forest to the west and to the east straddles Interstate 5, with the great majority of the land to the west of the interstate. From the Interstate 5 corridor it sits north of Redding, centered near Yreka. Like Six Rivers, it is a lightly visited area as national forests go, which for many of us is a good thing. Also like Six Rivers, rivers dominate the landscape, in this case the namesake Klamath and to a lesser extent the Salmon and the Scott. And it too features multiple scenic byways, Wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers and a plethora of outdoor opportunities. The Big Foot Scenic Byway noted below is shared with Six Rivers National Forest.  The five wilderness areas that fall within the borders of Klamath National Forest are Marble Mountains, Russian, Red Buttes, Trinity Alps, and Siskiyou.

Things to Do

National Scenic Byways

River Recreation

Whitewater rafting and kayaking are popular here on the Klamath, Salmon and Scott Rivers with in excess of 300 miles of workable water in these rivers and their tributaries. Ratings range from easy Class I stretches to serious Class V rapids so everyone can enjoy the water in an environment appropriate to their skill and courage level. Like most rivers in the Sierra, the rafting season generally runs from April to October with spring being the most exuberant.

Hiking & Backpacking

There are 4 national recreation trails in the area: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Boundary Trail, the Kelsey Trail and the Clear Creek Trail. Another popular hike is the Gooseneck Trail, which terminates at a volcanic crater at 8,300 feet.

Horseback Riding

The main trailheads designed to accommodate riders are the Grider, Haypress, Hidden Horse, Lovers Camp, Mule Bridge, Norcross, Shackleford and Stanishaw.

Mountain Biking

There are over 4,500 miles of trail open to bikers within forest boundaries.


With 3 major rivers, dozens of lakes and numerous streams anglers looking for salmon, steelhead and trout have ample opportunity to ply their trade.

Winter Sports

With no established downhill ski areas the Klamath serves a different demographic. Here it's all about cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and the occasional dog sled. As with all national forests, hunting is also legal- and popular.


Iron Gate Reservoir/ Copco Lake- a warm water fishery near Yreka off Interstate 5.

Juanita Lake- a nice combo of a small lake with camping and decent fishing for stocked rainbow trout along with bass and catfish. Set at 5,100 feet elevation.

Taylor Lake- a small lake just inside the border of the Russian Wilderness but accessible from the road via a short hike. Stocked with fingerling rainbow trout by DFG.

Kangaroo Lake- a small alpine lake set at 6,050 feet with camping and fishing for stocked rainbow trout.

Road Trips

Bigfoot National Scenic Byway- Hwy. 96 Willow Creek East to Happy Camp

State of Jefferson Scenic Byway- Hwy. 96 Yreka West to the Oregon Border

Forest Road 93- Somes Bar East to Callahan

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway- Hwy. 97 Weed to the Oregon Border

-The End-