May 23 Down the Klamath River

Our excursion for today took us down the Klamath River from near Yreka to the Seiad Valley. We wandered through Yreka on CA-3 for a bit before continuing onto CA-263 which wanders through a spectacular volcanic landscape. After about about 8 or 10 miles, we arrived at the intersection with CA-96 where we turned toward the coast, ambling along the north bank of the Klamath. The road is serpentine but the scenery spectacular down in the steep ravine the river has cut through the lava and basalt rock. We started the drive in mountain scrub, slowly transitioned to juniper-covered steep hillsides and by the time we got to Seiad Valley we were in dense redwood and Douglas fir forest. It is a magnificent drive if one has the time to really take a look so we putted along at about 25 miles an hour most of the way. We were obliged to pull over to let a few cars go by us since there are no passing lanes and our progress was sluggish.

Once in Seiad Valley, we realized we had gone too far to get back to Yreka without making a big circle over to nearly Eureka on the coast. Instead of turning our excursion into an endurance drive, we backtracked to the Scott River, a tributary of the Klamath, and turned south just east of the town of Hamburg after stopping by a federal campground and day-use area on the Klamath called Sarah Totten. We found a nice spot right next to the rushing river and had a nice apples and kippers lunch.

The Scott, which until today we were absolutely unaware existed, is actually a pretty substantial river. It is also almost completely passes through wilderness with virtually no other vehicles on the road and very few structures. The road was shit but the scenery was stunning offering views of some mountains covered with snow and extraordinary overlooks with the Scott far below.

After a couple hours, our route finally delivered us to a bucolic and handsome village called Fort Jones which seems to have possibly the only groceries for miles around. There we picked up CA-3 again, climbed over a 4000 foot pass and rolled almost all the rest of the way back into Yreka.

We had not really gone very many miles on today’s drive – maybe 70 or so. However, the terrain along the way is dramatic, the rivers are crystal-clear and there is abundant wildlife so I can recommend this excursion to anybody looking for a wonderful day of discovery.

Wetook some pictures along the way. To see them, click the link.

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