California may not usually be considered a great fall color destination, but the mixed blessing of cold winters and the abundance of Oaks, Big Leaf Maples, Aspen and Dogwood trees makes Siskiyou County’s fall foliage unforgettable. For the month of October and into November, Siskiyou is brushed with yellows, roses, oranges and burgundies, as exotic –or non-native – trees typically peak in the first half of October, while native trees typically peak in the second half of the month. The color is particularly impressive when set against the backdrop of a snow-capped Mt. Shasta.
Here are some great ways to enjoy fall color in Siskiyou!
Explore the Woods
An autumn stroll around Lake Siskiyou or the McCloud Reservoir is a perennial go-to. But for those seeking a more challenging hike, head to the Kelsey Creek Trailhead out of Ft. Jones and hike to Maple Falls. The four-mile journey to the waterfall is lined with golden hues from big leaf maples and is a local favorite. Another trail with bountiful autumn color is along Cabin Creek located between Mt. Shasta and McCloud, where the hike along clear waters and tumbling falls makes for a rich and scenic display.
Ride The Hills
The 24-mile loop through Scott Valley is particularly wonderful in the fall, with a mandatory photo stop at the Mormon Church in Etna. There, several exotics surrounding a steepled church put on a peak color display in mid-October that rivals any east coast color. But Siskiyou also offers a number of scenic autumn mountain bike destinations, including the Gateway Trail System in Mt. Shasta and Yreka’s Greenhorn Park. In both spots, families can explore several miles worth of trails with a stunning show of color. There’s also the trail from Martin’s Dairy Campground that ascends through an aspen grove up to Ball Mountain, with views of Mt. Shasta, and the Shasta and Butte Valleys. This un-maintained dirt road is also closed to 4WD traffic, so the only drama riders have to worry about is the vista itself.
Take A Swing
Siskiyou sports several golf courses, including one in Weed, Lake Shastina, Tule Lake and Mt. Shasta. All the courses are worthwhile destinations in their own right, especially in autumn. The Lake Shastina Golf Course features three 9-hole courses. The Mt. Shasta Resort is particularly stunning during peak season with a 6,035-yard par 70, 18-hole course. All of the golf courses are open to the public.
Go For a Ride
Anywhere along the Klamath River is sure to wow for wildflowers in the spring and serious color in the fall. The best way to enjoy it is a plan a day drive along Highway 96 to explore its dazzling bio-diversity. Or, take a drive out to the highly Aspen Grove in Little Shasta Meadows Botanical Area, where the beautiful white-barked Aspens turn into an arena of shimmering gold, orange and yellow. To reach it, Yreka Ager road to Ager Road to York Road and follow it to what the locals call Willow Creek Mountain. It’s paved the whole way to the Grove – just make sure to go before the first snowfall.
Explore the Rivers
Autumn is one of the best times to visit a river because the riparian corridors, or the strips of vegetation that occur along a river, generally support a variety of deciduous trees and thus pleasing fall colors. Siskiyou County is no exception. One such easy-to-reach place is on the Upper Sacramento at the Cantara Loop with easy access from Downtown Dunsmuir. Nearby and worthy of a day’s exploration in its own right is the McCloud River. Both the scenic McCloud Falls Trail as well as the area below McCloud Falls are simply breathtaking, with spent grasses and wind-swept oaks marking the way.