Interstate 5 cuts straight through the heart of Siskiyou – which also happens to be the perfect halfway point for a stop on the drive between Portland, Oregon and California’s Bay Area. And while Mt. Shasta, one of Siskiyou’s biggest draws, is dramatically visible from the road, it can sometimes overshadow so many other hidden gems that are worth exiting the freeway for. Even if you’ve only got an hour (or less!), here are 10 great spots to stop in Siskiyou that are mere minutes from the freeway – and will have you counting down to the days until you can come back to stay and play for real!
Hedge Creek Falls – Dunsmuir
One of the 10 Great Spots Right off I5 is an absolutely dreamy spot to stretch your legs. Hedge Creek Falls is a waterfall you can walk behind and is literally right off the freeway. At the Hedge Creek Falls exit in Dunsmuir, you can pull off the freeway and park, then take a five minute walk along a shaded trail to the waterfall.
Botanical Gardens – Dunsmuir
Dunsmuir in general is great for the I5 traveler, offering a ton in the way of delicious eateries, from Yaks On The 5 to Café Maddalena and The Wheelhouse. But its downtown city park – home to the Botanical Gardens with ten acres of hilly wooded area, meadows and gardens – is a must. The native white dogwood here is prolific and provides a glorious show in the spring. Unique to this area are also the many Shasta lilies and fragrant native azaleas growing on the hillsides and along the river.
Sisson Museum & Fish Hatchery – Mt. Shasta
A perfect energy-releasing stop for even the youngest of travelers, the Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum is right off I-5. It’s completely child-friendly and housed in a 1906 building on the grounds of the oldest trout hatchery west of the Mississippi. You’ll find permanent and changing exhibits display the history and culture of the Mount Shasta area, along with a mountaineering wall, a model railroad, and a chance to feed some trout! Nearby, Cooper’s Bar & Grill at the Best Western Tree House offers a delicious and easy access restaurant before hitting the road.
Lake Siskiyou – Mt. Shasta
Another one of the 10 Great Spots Right off I5, is nestled at the foot of the Trinity Divide, enjoying outstanding views of Mount Shasta. Lake Siskiyou is one of the prettiest reservoirs in Northern California, not to mention one of its recreational hubs. It’s a great place to stretch the legs with a beautiful pedestrian bridge and commanding views of Mount Shasta. In the summer there are even boat rentals and a Splash Zone for the kids. It will make you feel like the long road trip is a million miles away – instead of a few minutes from the freeway!
Sacramento Headwaters – Mt. Shasta
The Headwaters Spring in Mt. Shasta City Park is a highlight not to be missed. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the paved, ADA walkway around the picnic grounds. Explore the nature trail by way of the Headwaters Bridge with the meandering Headwaters stream as your guide. And although filling up a water bottle for the road is not officially recommended, you’ll see people doing it – the choice is up to you!
Weed Arch & The Weed Store – Weed
Although Weed gets its name from founder Abner Weed, who established the local lumber mill after discovering that the area’s strong winds were helpful in drying lumber, it’s now become something of a novelty draw for its euphemistic reference to cannabis. Stop off the freeway and snap a selfie with the historic arch and a dramatic view of Mount Shasta, then pop into The Weed Store for your favorite Weed souvenir T-Shirt!
Bear Trail – Weed
Weed is home to the College of the Siskiyous and its beautiful main campus located just minutes off Interstate 5. If you’re looking for a great walking loop to stretch your legs, look no further than the Bear Trail that meanders for two miles behind the back of the college. The mostly flat, wooded trail is great for all ages, and four-legged friends are also welcome on a leash! It’s also right next door to the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company/Weed Ale House and down the street from Montgomery’s Meat Co. deli, making it a worthwhile just-off-the-freeway food stop, too.
Historic West Miner Street
Not even a hop, skip and a jump off the freeway, stop off for an exploration of the burgeoning arts scene on historic and very walkable Miner Street in Yreka. In a few block radius you’ll find art galleries, artisan shops, food and even a spot to paint ceramics while you enjoy an adult grilled cheese. There are also seven buildings that are recognized as California Historical Landmarks, and a self-guided walking tour of the surrounding neighborhoods with an impressive number of preserved Victorians.
Shasta Valley Wildlife Area
Just eight miles east of Interstate 5 (and a mile east of charming downtown Montague!) you can explore the pretty Shasta Valley Wildlife Area. Designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1991, it contains approximately 4,700 acres of Great Basin juniper woodland, riparian forest, seasonal wetlands, and cropland where you can keep company with cranes, waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds.
Iron Gate Fish Hatchery
Our last (but not least!) of the 10 Great Spots Right off I5 is along the Klamath River. Iron Gate Hatchery is a salmon and steelhead hatchery that releases fish back to the Klamath River, and it’s a great place to get out of the car and explore with kids, especially in the autumn (approximately mid-October through mid-December) during spawning season.
For more inspiration of things to see and do, visit here or check out our kiosk at the Collier Rest Area located right off the Interstate between Yreka and Hornbrook.