Take the Waters Along the Historic Siskiyou Trail

By Dave Knospe

From green, lush valleys to rugged peaks, Northern California is one of America’s most beautiful places to own land.

In the northernmost part of the state, Siskiyou County is located in the Shasta Cascade region along the border with Oregon. Bigger than several U.S. states, it serves as a key tourist destination within California because of it’s substantial natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and rich history from the Gold Rush era.

This area of the west coast is the central section of the Siskiyou Trail, which began as Native American footpaths that joined the Central Valley of the state to the Pacific Northwest. The area was further developed by Hudson’s Bay Company trappers, Forty-Niners and the Central Pacific Railroad.
As the developments were made, tourists began visiting the county’s many summer resorts. Hunting, world-famous trout fishing, water-sports and more draw guests from around the country to the area each year.

Siskiyou County displays vast geographic diversity including rivers, lakes, dense forests and desert all leading up to the towering peak of Mount Shasta near the center of the county. At 14,179 feet, Mount Shasta – the second highest volcano on the west coast – making it a ‘hot-spot’ for outdoor recreation during both summer & winter. Other areas of outdoor attraction include the Klamath National Forest (occupying 1.7 million acres) and the pastoral Scott Valley.

The largest city in the county is Yreka, the County Seat, while other towns include Dunsmuir, Montague, Tulelake and Weed. Area residents and visitors enjoy annual events like the Mt. Shasta Blackberry Festival, Dunsmuir’s Railroad Days, the Big Foot Festival in Happy Camp, Montague’s Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Mushroom Festival in McCloud and the Tule Lake Bird Festival.

The county is accessed by Interstate 5, which runs along the old Siskiyou Trail route and is serviced by local buses (Siskiyou Transit and General Express). There is also an Amtrak service stop in Dunsmuir and Amtrak California motorcoaches operate in other areas.

FUN FACT: Did you know that during the 1940’s Siskiyou County was part of a movement which sought to create a new state? Along with several other California and Oregon counties, citizens of Siskiyou County made several attempts to secede and form the State of Jefferson. Alas, you won’t find a state quarter for Jefferson – the plan abruptly ended with the start of World War II.

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