Klamath River/Siskiyou Mountains
May 5-7, 1978
This trip via Southern Oregon and Northern California coast, Jacksonville and Applegate Valley with three consecutive days of warm sunshine proved more beautiful and spectacular than anticipated. Wild flowers in profusion colored the roadside besides rhododendrons, azaleas and lilacs. There was little traffic, and we had an accommodating Trailways driver.
There was a stop at the Umpqua Lighthouse, lunch at Humbug State Park among the daisies and beside a clear creek, and a visit to Azalea State Park in Brookings to enjoy the blooms and fragrance. A delay in Brookings was necessary for the driver to repair the reverse gear shift, or to get a new one.
Into California: From the town of Klamath on the north side of the Klamath River, we turned off the highway to view the old historic Requa Village and Inn overlooking the river mouth and the large rock across the river, called Indian Woman Rock with a burden on her back and facing the ocean (Indian Legend).
“Revelation Trail for the Blind,” a special trail in the new Redwood National Park, 53 miles north of Eureka near Prairie creek, gave unusual interest. Nearby tame elk were feeding. Then dinner and overnight at Ramada Inn at Arcata Junction. Before turning east we had to see the old historic and picturesque buildings of Arcata, plus a renewed town plaza. We crossed the Mad River and climbed out of the coastal plain—the ground rose and 20 miles in front were the rugged Siskiyous. It was ours for the day along the winding Klamath River.
Forty miles to Willow Creek Junction, once the jumping-off place for gold mines, but now caters to recreation and white water racing on the Trinity. Then we followed the river for 24 miles through open valley, Hoopa Indian Reservation and Big Foot country to Weitchpec Junction, only 200' elevation. Here the two rivers join and flow northwest to the ocean. Highway 96 continues, closely following the twisting, turning Klamath River, as it drops in elevation with numerous riffles, rapids, glides and pools. It flows through a narrow forested canyon which is usually less than half a mile in width—in some areas the road is a few feet from the streambed and as high as 500 feet—bridges crossing many times and eventually climbing to 2000' at I-5.
Our stops were frequent for magnificent views. Birds seen were Great Blue Herons, Stellar Jays, Purple Martins, American Goldfinch and Ospreys, plus their nests. We lunched at Perched Creek Camp beside cascading waters. Then there were stops at Ishi Pishi Falls and Sarah Totten Camp for pictures of deer and pink lupine. There were many picnic and camping areas near the river with running water and rest rooms. This road was excellent with well banked curves to follow this second largest stream in California, but remember, it originates in Oregon.
Saturday night accommodations were at Bard’s Inn in the center of Ashland, but good food was found in various places. Some travelers visited Lithia Park, fed the ducks, etc., while others enjoyed the French play “Tartuffe.”
Sunday we departed for Jacksonville via a backroad through the pear orchards where Grace Smith lived for many years. She gave us an interesting background of the orchards, history and growth—a delightful contrast from the day before. In Jacksonville we learned again about gold, and our history, then a visit to the cemetery on the hill in the madrona trees where we learned about the early deaths. We visited the museum, then lunched leisurely at various places, leaving at 2:00 p.m.
We completed our encircling of the Siskiyous by driving through the Applegate Valley with the mountains to the South, crossed the river several times, then to Grants Pass, I-5, and Eugene by 6:30 p.m.
The leaders, Jane Hilt and Grace Smith, were fascinated with the country, and were pleased the passengers were too: Mary Jane and Duke Arpin, Muriel Aufderheide, Margaret Barnhard, Louise and Clay Barnes, Margaret Block, Mary Bridgeman, Ella Carrick, Marie Carstensen, Marian Fulkerson, Florence Givens, Art and Lillian Johnson, Virginia Horton, Frances Newsom, Ruth Nichols, Janice and Pat Pattison, Sybil Pickering, Lila and Al Smith, Myrtle Smith, Betty Mae Stamm, Mary-Douglass Stovall, Helen Stovall, Mildred Weatherby, Maxcine Williams, Ruth Williams, and Hazel and Cliff Stalsberg.