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Falling For You

Finding Fall Foliage in Siskiyou…

Days are getting shorter, the air a little crisper, and leaves are starting to change. 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. In October and November, Siskiyou is brushed with yellows, roses, oranges and burgundies; exotic (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.

To explore the best fall foliage that Siskiyou County has to offer, Dyana Kelley of Camp-California recommends that everyone “take a drive to Aspen Grove in the Little Shasta Meadows Botanical Area or enjoy an autumn bike ride along the 24-mile loop through Scott Valley.” Longtime local Mt. Shasta resident and wildflower enthusiast Jane Cohn recommends the easily accessible Foundation Trail in the Gateway Trail System. Just outside of downtown Mt. Shasta, the trail’s intense color comes from the “many dogwoods close together that put on a great show.”

Here are five more ways to explore the best of the region’s fall color.

TAKE A HIKE: An autumn stroll around Lake Siskiyou or the McCloud Reservoir is a perennial go-to. For those seeking a more challenging hike, head to the Kelsey Creek Trailhead out of Fort 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 between Mt. Shasta and McCloud, where the hike along clear waters and tumbling falls makes for a rich and scenic display.

Greenhorn Park • Photo courtesy of Discover Siskiyou

TAKE A BIKE RIDE: The 24-mile loop through Scott Valley is particularly wonderful in the fall, with a mandatory photo stop at the LDS 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. Other scenic autumn mountain bike destinations include Yreka’s  Greenhorn Park, where 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 dirt road is also closed to 4WD traffic.

Mt. Shasta Resort • Photo courtesy of Discover Siskiyou

TAKE A SWING: Siskiyou sports several public golf courses, including ones in Weed, Lake Shastina, Tule Lake and Mount Shasta. All courses are worthwhile destinations in their own right, especially in autumn. The Lake Shastina Golf Course features three nine-hole courses. The Mt. Shasta Resort is particularly stunning during peak season with a 6,035-yard par 70, 18-hole course.

GO FOR A DRIVE: Anywhere along the Klamath River is sure to wow for wildflowers in the spring and serious color in the fall. Plan a day drive along Highway 96 to explore its dazzling biodiversity. Or take a drive out to 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, take 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.

Greenhorn Park • Photo courtesy of Discover Siskiyou

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.

“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus
About Megan Peterson

Megan is a Chico native who lives in Etna. For nearly two decades she’s written, produced and pitched content for a variety of television networks, including the Travel Channel, National Geographic and Discovery. She works at Discover Siskiyou and considers Siskiyou her muse.

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