Siskiyou National Forest Overview
|Siskiyou National Forest (Paul Souders/Digital Vision/Getty)|
With over 600 hiking trails, famed whitewater rapids, choice fishing, and scenery certain to leave you speechless, Siskiyou National Forest is an essential visit for any outdoors fanatic. Overlapping northwestern California and southern Oregon, this magnificent forest houses absolutely extraordinary rock formations. This includes the Cascade Range, which is comprised of igneous rock, and the Coastal Range, which contains mostly sedimentary rock. Because of its varied terrain, the climate ranges from arctic to nearly tropical, and the forest is home to many rare plant species, including some rare types of cacti.
Ride the Illinois River
Watch out for the Illinois! This impressive Pacific-bound river has 150 rapids—including levels in both Class IV and Class V. The river ranks among some of the best rapids trips in the nation and should not be left off your list when it comes to planning a whitewater excursion in the Siskiyou area. Although this highlight activity can be tricky even for those more comfortable with river-running, the 35 miles of frothing whitewater action are an unforgettable experience.
Backpack Illinois River Trail
Fishing options, old-growth trees, a vast array of wildlife, and jagged canyons are only some of the features of this renowned trail. The Illinois River Trail, though difficult and strenuous at times, inexorably rewards its challenger with 27 miles of breathtaking views of summer wildflowers and Siskiyou's unique land structures.
Day-Hike the Vulcan Lake Trail
If you only have time for a day hike, check out what Vulcan Lake has to show you. This 1.4-mile hike lies at an elevation of 3,600 feet above sea level. Although it is a fairly moderate hike covered with intermittent hills and rocky surfaces, it offers a glimpse of some of the prime wonders of Siskiyou. The good news for the tyro is that it graciously provides facilities like bathrooms and picnic tables. In its short length, you can see spectacular views of Vulcan glacial cirque lake and experience the marvels of the forest's distinctive geological features.
Explore the Kalmiopsis Wilderness
One hundred and eighty thousand acres of this vast wilderness sweep across the center of the Siskiyou Forest. A collection of wild rivers, jagged rock, and gaping canyons mark its rugged terrain. A product of erosion for over 40 million years, Kalmiopsis's steep slopes and sharp rock configurations fascinate both geologists and mountain lovers alike. The landscape also contains lakes formed by alpine glaciers, slablike granite protrusions, and structurally complex rock formations due to ancient faulting, which make the area one of the most talked about in Siskiyou. Other wilderness areas within the forest that you may wish to investigate are the Grassy Knob, Red Buttes, Siskiyou, and Wild Rogue.
Fish the Rogue
For years, the Rogue River has been a huge attraction for anglers from around the world visiting Siskiyou. Its clear blue waters and collections of salmon, trout, and steelhead have enticed fishers for ages. And remember—it is a legendary destination for some of the largest salmon in the continental United States who wiggle and splash their way up to Siskiyou every year.
Camp Next to the World's Largest Ponderosa Pine Tree
Big Pine Campground offers a number of tempting attractions. At 17.8 miles northwest of Grant's Pass, it holds a bundle of camper-friendly recreational activities. Nearby hiking trails are easily accessible, as are the restrooms, picnic area, and drinking water. Plus, who could pass up a chance to see the largest ponderosa pine on the planet?
Lookout from Bolan Mountain
Perched on the very top of Bolan Mountain at 6,242 feet above sea level sits a rustic outlook cabin. Its large windows enable dwellers to see a panoramic view of the entire mountain and nearby features. For a small fee, you can rent the cabin overnight during the snow-free time of year.
Mountain Bike the Taylor Creek Trail
Separated into three distinct sections, this singletrack trail is one of the favorites among mountain bikers in Siskiyou during the spring, summer, and autumn seasons. While the first (upper) part caters to those more interested in an easy or moderate trail, the middle 2.4 miles tends to be more difficult—skipping over brooks and riding uphill. The third part has been nicknamed "the Jedi Trail" by the locals because of its similarity to the futuristic forest bike race scene from Return of the Jedi. Try it out and see if you agree.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication