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Natural Wonders Await in Siskiyou County
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Natural Wonders Await in Siskiyou County

Here's your guide to Siskiyou County, a gorgeous region rife with lakes, waterfalls, hiking trails, and other natural wonders.

California.com

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4 min read

June 11, 2022

Snuggled between Shasta County, Humboldt County, and the Oregon border sits a region packed with lakes, waterfalls, hiking trails, and remnants of volcanic activity. Siskiyou County represents the northernmost portion of California along the Cascade Range and is swirling with untamed wilderness, premier fishing destinations, and national monuments. Natural wonders are bountiful in this county, with Shackleford, Whitney, McCloud, and Faery Falls within driving distance; the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge; Lake Siskiyou; and miles of hiking trails for any skill level. For truly unique experiences, check out these three California gems.

Northeastern Volcanic Caverns

Lava Beds National Monument was formed over the last half-million years, thanks to the Medicine Lake shield volcano. Over 700 lava tube caves exist in the park due to the cooling patterns of smooth lava and the collapse of the inner surface as the rock cooled. The most developed caves are located along a two-mile road aptly named Cave Loop, on the north side of the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano.

Kangaroo Lake

Unparalleled beauty is an understatement when it comes to describing Kangaroo Lake.

Kangaroo Lake lies in southwestern Siskiyou, inside the expansive Klamath National Forest. Ombre hues of white and yellow water lilies cascade across the northern end of the lake and marshlands, while still waters, undisturbed by motorboats, extend across the 25-acre reservoir. Camp along the water’s edge in one of 18 available campsites, rent a canoe to view the region’s wetlands, and observe the flight patterns of the various birds passing through.

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Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Mount Shasta and represents one of the most interesting volcanic occurrences in the state. The lake was formed as the volcano collapsed, though there is no single volcanic eruption that led to the formation of this caldera. The caldera basin occupies a 4.3-by-7.5-mile area in California’s northern high desert and is the perfect spot to enjoy a daytime hike and marvel at the wonders of the natural world.

Heart Lake

Paired with the grandeur of Mount Shasta, Heart Lake is a true gem.

Boasting magnificent views of Mount Shasta, Heart Lake is one of the most gorgeous lakes in the region. It is 11 feet deep and spans across 0.75 acres with steep shores all around. Nestled between lush greenery and sprawling hills, the crisp waters of the lake provide a habitat for trout. A traditional way to access Heart Lake is via the Heart Lake Trail, a hiking path adorned with scenic views of the Siskiyou wilderness throughout the entire trek.

Mount Shasta

There’s a good reason why Mount Shasta is referred to as the grand-dame of Siskiyou County.

With an altitude of 14,180 feet, Mount Shasta is dubbed the grand dame of Siskiyou County — and rightly so. This “unchallenged monarch” of Northern California is the second-highest peak in the Golden state and can be seen from more than 100 miles away. While it’s a popular destination for mountain climbing, others simply come to admire its grandeur. In any case, a visit to this majestic mountain is said to be a life-changing experience.

Cliff Lake

As the name suggests, Cliff Lake features cliffs emerging from the waters and reaching up to 1,500 feet. This massive basin is beautifully paired with four additional lakes. While Cedar and Lower Cliff Lakes meet the trail on the way to Cliff Lake, Terrace and Higher Lakes are tucked into the cliffs above. What’s also interesting is that very rare species of trees known as Port Orford cedars adorn the surrounding landscape of the lake. Despite the gorgeous views of this natural wonder, the hiking trail around the area is not very well-known outside of the local communities.

McCloud Falls

The sights and sounds of McCloud Falls add to the overall charm of Siskiyou County.

Another attraction to behold in Siskiyou County, California is McCloud Falls. t is one of the best hiking trails in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. What makes this natural wonder stand out is that it consists of three different falls within a walking distance of each other.

Upper Falls features a calm river that collects into a huge rock chute and fills the water with energy before spilling into the basin below. Middle Falls divides the falling water above a lava cliff and into a large body of water. As for Lower Falls, it is a small chute that spills into the waters below it. Although this popular destination has icy cold waters throughout most of the year, it’s not uncommon to see visitors splashing around in it in the summer.  

Bass Lake

Situated 2.4 miles from Montague, Bass Lake is known for being one of the best lakes on the West Coast. It spans 85 acres in size and is a popular destination for anglers who can expect to find several species of fish including white bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and catfish. Besides fishing, other activities here include wakeboarding and other water sports for the whole family. Lakeside hiking trails are also available in the area for those seeking an adventure.

Klamath River

Klamath River stretches across 257 miles, making it the second-largest in California.

Traveling across a distance of 257 miles, the Klamath River is the second largest in the Golden State. This natural wonder connects Oregon with Northern California before meeting the Pacific Ocean. It is known to be a crucial environment for fish, salmon, and steelhead in particular, that migrate upstream to their natal habitats. This Siskiyou attraction is also home to some of the longest stretches of free-flowing bodies of water in California, making it a must-visit destination for recreational activities. 

Grass Lake

Boasting an elevation of 1,526 meters, Grass Lake is a type of swamp nestled in the great outdoors of Siskiyou County. The nearby Grass Lake Rest Area allows visitors to unwind and take in the beauty of the picturesque views. Meanwhile, hikers can enjoy the short trail that offers plenty of opportunities to take great pictures of the lake as well as the local wildflowers. The area is also ideal for watching the sunrise and sunset or having a nice picnic. 

Castle Crags

The 170-million-year-old rock formations of Castle Crags are a sight to behold.

Bordering Shasta County just south of Siskiyou County, the Castle Crags are nearly 170 million years old. This stunning rock formation features granite spires up to 6000 feet tall, inspiring various myths and legends. Being composed of granite is what sets this natural attraction apart from the volcanic formations of Siskiyou County, CA, offering similar marvels as Yosemite but on a smaller scale and without the crowds. Aside from the Castle Crags Wilderness, this natural wonder is where you’ll find the Castle Crags State Park. The park consists of hiking trails spanning 28 miles with various levels of difficulty. Only 6 miles away from Castle Crags is Dunsmuir, a lovely railroad town that offers lodging as well as a slew of restaurants.

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