NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Trinity River National Scenic Byway- Hwy. 299 Arcata to Weaverville

Like Hwy. 199, Hwy. 299 traverses the forest from west to east but in this case tracks the Mad and Trinity Rivers for a good ways. At its western end it starts at the junction of Hwy. 101 just north of the City of Arcata (which in turn is just north of Eureka). As it heads east it initially nearly parallels the Mad River. The Mad River supports a fairly sizable steelhead run in the winter months, particularly in and around the town of Mad River; there is also a steelhead hatchery nearby. The river is also known for silting up easily and frequently after a storm. But anglers are accustomed to challenges. There are no established campgrounds anywhere along the road until it enters the national forest just north of Horse Mountain (the hill- it is not a town). The mountain, at 4,952 feet, is known for views of Mt. Shasta and the Pacific Ocean and borders the Horse Mountain Botanical Area. If you need provisions get 'em in Blue Lake as it's slim pickings east of there for quite a stretch.

As you enter the forest you'll encounter the first campground: East Fork. Shortly thereafter is the second: Boise Creek. You are now almost at the intersection with Hwy. 96 (another trip).

East Fork Campground

Location: Set on Willow Creek at 2,000 feet just off Hwy. 299 thirty-two miles east of Arcata.

Attraction: A pretty spot. Fishing is not allowed in Willow Creek.

Campsite Description: 11 sites for tents or RV's to 20 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, and vault toilets. No drinking water. Some facilities wheelchair-accessible.

Season: Late May- September, weather permitting.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $8   Fishing No
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 2,000 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Blue Lake

Information: Six Rivers National Forest, Lower Trinity Ranger District. (530) 629-2118.

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Boise Creek Campground

Location: On Hwy. 299 thirty-eight miles east of Arcata and 6 miles east of the East Fork Campground.

Attraction: A larger site than East Fork able to handle larger vehicles, plus drinking water. A campground host is frequently on-site.

Campsite Description: 17 sites for tents or RV's to 35 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and vault toilets.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Accepted at www.recreation.gov (877) 444-6777.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $10   Fishing No
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 2,000 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Blue Lake

Information: Six Rivers National Forest, Lower Trinity Ranger District. (530) 629-2118.

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After passing Boise Creek Campground you will come to an intersection at the village of Willow Creek. Turn left and you will head north on Hwy. 96. This stretch of road (north & south) also has a name: Bigfoot Scenic Byway. If you're lucky you may spot the big fella, or at least be able to claim you did (another trip). Turn right and you will continue on Hwy. 299 as it wends it's way southeast. In both cases you'll be tracking the Trinity River. We're turning right. Willow Creek would be a good place to replenish your provisions and fuel up as you are heading into a fairly remote stretch of road with limited access to supplies.

Also, here's where we make another compromise. As you head east at about Gray Falls you will leave Six Rivers National Forest and enter Shasta Trinity National Forest. We're not stopping and neither should you.

 Anyway, as you track the Trinity River south you will recognize that this stretch of road is meant for meandering. You will pass some river access points. There's a picnic area at Tunnel Flat, site of the World's Largest Tan Oak. There's a boat launch at Hawkins Bar. And still later, you can camp at Burnt Ranch Campground, site of Burnt Ranch Falls. Unfortunately, the hike into the falls crosses private land on an unmaintained trail so it's best to skip this trip unless you want to negotiate with landowners.

It should be noted that if you are coming from the east you can pick up Hwy. 299 in the city of Redding.

Burnt Ranch Campground

Location: On Hwy. 299 just north of the village of Burnt Ranch.

Attraction: A campground set on a bluff above the Trinity River at 1,000 feet.

Campsite Description: 15 sites for tents or RV's to 25 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and vault toilets.

Season: Year-round, weather permitting.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $8   Fishing Trinity River
Hook-ups No   Boating At Hawkins Bar
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,000 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Hawkins Bar- 1 hr. away

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106. Raft rentals, etc. Trinity River Rafting Company at www.trinityriverrafting.com (800) 307-4837.

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Hayden Flat Campground

Location: On Hwy. 299 ten miles east of the village of Burnt Ranch.

Attraction: A nice spot on the Trinity River with campsites right on the river and more across the road. A put-in site for rafts and a beach for swimmers.

Campsite Description: 35 sites for tents or RV's to 25 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and vault toilets. Some facilities with wheelchair-accessibility. Groups may reserve 3 or more sites.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Required for groups at (530) 623-2121. $30 per night.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $12/30   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Rafts
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,200 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Nearby

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106.

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Big Bar Campground

Location: On Hwy. 299 one mile east of the village of Big Bar. At the ranger station at the above location turn right (coming from the west) on Corral Bottom Road and drive 1/4 mile to the campground.

Attraction: A small site with easy access to the Trinity River to drop in a raft or kayak.

Campsite Description: 3 sites for tents only. Picnic tables, fire grills and vault toilets. No drinking water or garbage collection. Supplies in Big Bar.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees None   Fishing Trinity River
Hook-ups No   Boating Raft, kayak
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,200 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Big Bar

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106. Raft rentals, etc. at Trinity River Rafting Co. www.trinityriverrafting.com (800) 307-4837.

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Skunk Point Group Camp

Location: On the Trinity River in Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Hwy. 299 2 miles east of the village of Big Bar.

Attraction: Two group sites right on the river where you can launch a raft or kayak. A beach is nearby. Experienced river-runners will find Class II rapids in the spring when the water flows are at their maximum but become more benign as the season wears on. Supplies and gear rentals are available in nearby Big Flat. If you are not experienced, check on conditions in Big Flat.

Campsite Description: Two sites for up to 50 people each. Picnic tables, fire grills and vault toilets. No drinking water. Some facilities with wheelchair access.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Required at www.recreation.gov. (877) 444-6777.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $40   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Raft, kayak
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,200 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Big Flat

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106. Raft & gear rentals: Trinity River Rafting Company. www.trinityriverrafting.com. (800) 307-4837.

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Big Flat Campground

Location: On the Trinity River in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Three miles east of the village of Big Bar on Hwy. 299.

Attraction: A campground across the road from the Trinity River. Not as attractive an alternative as some others due to the campsites being close together, so choose the off-season or elect to make friends easily.

Campsite Description: 10 sites for tents or RV's to 22 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and vault toilets. Some facilities with wheelchair-accessibility.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $8   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating raft, kayak
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,200 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Big Bar

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106.

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Pigeon Point Campground & Group Site

Location: On the Trinity River in Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Hwy. 299 1/2 mile west of Helena.

Attraction: Access to the river, with a swimming beach.

Campsite Description: Six sites for tents or RV's to 22 feet. Two multi-family sites. One group site for up to 50 people with tents or RV's to 16 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills and vault toilets. No drinking water. Some facilities with wheelchair access.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Required for group sites at (530) 623-2121. Not accepted for individual sites.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $12/15/75   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,100 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Big Bar

Information: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger Station. (530) 623-6106.

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Junction City Campground

Location: On the Trinity River 2.5 miles west of Junction City on Hwy. 299.

Attraction: Camping or fishing for salmon in the fall and steelhead from mid-October.

Campsite Description: This is a Bureau of Land Management campground. 22 sites for tents or RV's to 40 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water, vault toilets and food lockers. Some facilities wheelchair-accessible.

Season: May-November.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $10   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,200 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Johnson City

Information: Bureau of Land Management, Redding Field Office. www.blm.gov/ca. (530) 224-2100.

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A Diversion: Trinity & Lewiston Lakes

After Junction City you have an opportunity to take a nice side trip to Trinity Lake and/or its neighbor to the south, Lewiston Lake. Trinity Lake is pretty large, with 17,000 surface acres of water and 145 miles of shoreline set at 2,300 feet. It supports all types of watersports and is also a decent fishery. Smallmouth bass are the primary native species, but there are also populations of largemouth bass, brown bullhead and channel catfish. The lake is planted with rainbow and brown trout as well as some king salmon. Click the link for Trinity Lake for more information.

Nearby Lewiston Lake is considerably smaller, set at 1,900 feet with 750 surface acres and 15 miles of shoreline. It has a 15 mph speed limit, which limits the more extreme types of watersports and makes it ideal for folks with kayaks, canoes or other small boats. There are several campgrounds with better than 100 total campsites and fishing for stocked rainbow, brook and brown trout. Click the Lewiston Lake link for more information.

Moving On

Not far east from Junction City, near the town of Douglas City and just outside the boundaries of the national forest, you'll encounter a series of BLM campgrounds on the river that may have some appeal. All offer good river access and are particularly well suited for shoreline anglers.

Douglas City & Steiner Flat Campgrounds

Location: On the Trinity River off Hwy. 299 close to Douglas City. Near Douglas City watch for Steiner Flat Rd. near the Trinity River bridge. Turn onto Steiner Flat road and follow the signs. Douglas City Campground is 1/2 mile and Steiner Flat is 2.5 miles down the road.

Attraction: Easy access to the river for salmon & steelhead fishing from mid-August into the winter; swimming and lollygagging in summer.

Campsite Description: Douglas City has 20 sites for tents or RV's to 28 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and restrooms with sinks & flush toilets. Paved parking, 2 beaches and a group picnic site complete the picture. Steiner Flat has dispersed camping for 22 tents and RV's to 40 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills and vault toilets. No drinking water. There is no fee for camping.

Season: Douglas City: Mid-May thru November. Steiner Flat: year-round.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $10/0   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes/no   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,700 feet
Toilets Above   Supplies Douglas City

Information: Bureau of Land Mgt., Redding Field Office. (530) 224-2100.

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Steel Bridge Campground

Location: Coming from the west, go 2.3 miles past Douglas City on Hwy. 299 to Steel Bridge Rd. and take it 2 miles to the campground where the road ends.

Attraction: Easy access to the river for salmon/steelhead fishing.

Campsite Description: 12 sites for tents or RV's to 20 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, vault toilets. No drinking water. Some facilities wheelchair accessible.

Season: Mid-May until the weather intervenes. Check with the BLM for availability.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $5   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,700 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Douglas City

Information:  Bureau of Land Mgt., Redding Field Office. (530) 224-2100.

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So there you have it. Please note that there are two more scenic drives in the area. Click the link for more information. They are:

-The End-