Klamath National Forest
Guide

Introduction

Klamath National Forest has more than 1,700,000 acres in both Siskiyou County, California and Jackson County, Oregon. There are five wilderness areas including Siskiyou, Red Buttes, Trinity Alps, Marble Mountain, and Russian Wilderness Areas. If you are looking for rafting or fishing the rivers, the Scott, Salmon, and Klamath Rivers provide about 200 miles of waterway. White water rafting is popular in the Klamath River. There are also dozens of lakes, ponds, and creeks scattered throughout the forest.

If you are into hiking, the forest also has 90 trails that spread over 530 miles. Many of these trails are also used for ATV riding, mountain biking, and equestrian use. In the winters, you can also use some of these trails for cross-country skiing, skijoring, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Hunting is also popular here with plenty of critters from small squirrels to large black bears. Check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for rules and regulations as well as dates for hunting seasons.

While you are visiting the forest, there are some points of interest that are popular with the locals as well as people from all over. There are 15 geologic areas such as Whaleback, Mount Shasta, Goosenest, Willow Creek, and Eagle Rock. Some botanical areas to check out include China Mountain by Scott River, Sutcliffe Creek in the upper Indian Creek area, and Black Lava Butte Botanical and Geologic Area, which includes both. RV camping is a popular and relaxing past-time in the Klamath National Forest, and they have 28 campgrounds that cater to RVs. We have highlighted our top three choices here.

RV Rentals in Klamath National Forest

Transportation

Driving

Klamath National Forest has three major scenic byways. The Bigfoot Scenic Byway, which meanders along the Klamath River on Highway 96, has some amazing views of the valleys and whitewater rapids. The State of Jefferson Scenic Byway runs along Highway 96 as well from Happy Camp to Greyback Road and Highway 199. The Volcanic Legacy Byway takes you on a tour of the forest and includes some amazing views of Mount Shasta from Highway 97.

Getting to the forest is easy since there are several highways and a large Interstate running through. Coming from the north or east, Interstate 5 is your best choice. Take Highway 96 from the west and Highway 299 or 3 from the south. The roads are typically well-maintained but not as well as your usual county or city roads. Some of the streets can be narrow and treacherous if you are driving a large rig or pulling a trailer. You should also watch out for wildlife crossing the roads here in the forest such as deer and raccoons.

As you get further into the woods and nearer the campgrounds, the roads are mostly gravel or dirt and can be potholed and even muddy if it has rained recently. Watch out for low hanging branches as well.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Klamath National Forest

Campsites in Klamath National Forest

First-come first-served

Indian Scotty Campground

Indian Scotty Campground has 28 wooded campsites in Fort Jones on Scott River Road. Each campsite is shaded by ponderosa pine and douglas fir trees with plenty of privacy between sites. There is also a fire ring with grill, lantern pole, and picnic table at each campsite. These sites can accommodate an RV or trailer up to 30 feet long, and you can find several vault toilets and drinking water spigots around the park.

The Scott River is just a few feet from the campground where you can enjoy fishing for several types of trout and salmon as well as sturgeon and bass. This river is also popular for rafting and float trips. You will need to keep your food locked up or in your car because there are a lot of bears in this area. Dogs and cats are welcome but must be supervised and restrained at all times. These campsites are first-come, first-served so get here early if you want a spot.

Juanita Lake Campground

Juanita Lake Campground has 22 campsites in Macdoel on the banks of the 55-acre Juanita Lake. Each campsite has a large clearing, lantern pole, picnic table, and fire ring with a grill for cooking. The campsite parking pads range from 24 to 30 feet so most campers will fit easily. The campground also has several vault toilets and drinking water spigots placed in different areas of the campground.

Juanita Lake is stocked regularly with trout and it also has a healthy supply of catfish and bass. There is a 1.5-mile trail around the lake and two fishing piers for your convenience. It is important for you to keep your food in your car or locked up in a bear-proof container because there are bears in this area. Dogs and cats are welcome but must be supervised and restrained at all times during your stay. These campsites are first-come, first-served so get here early if you want a spot.

Tree of Heaven Campground

Tree of Heaven Campground has 21 campsites in Yreka that can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 35 feet in length. Each site has a picnic table, lantern hangar, and fire pit with a grill for cooking. In addition, the park offers drinking water at spigots in several different areas and vault toilets placed in various locations. The campground is right on the banks of the Klamath River, which is one of the best fishing and floating rivers in the state.

Fishing includes Chinook and Coho Salmon, trout, bass, and crappie. Klamath River is a designated wild and scenic river with a bunch of waterfalls, cascades, and rapids. Some of the areas are for experienced rafters only at certain times of the year. You will need to keep your food locked up or in your car because there are a lot of bears in this area. Dogs and cats are welcome but must be supervised and restrained at all times. These campsites are first-come, first-served so get here early if you want a spot.

Seasonal activities in Klamath National Forest

In-Season

Whitewater Rafting

Don’t forget to pack your raft and life vests in the camper before heading to the Klamath National Forest. The Klamath River is a designated wild and scenic river with a bunch of waterfalls, cascades, and rapids. The lower Klamath River has some easy class II level rapids, but the upper Klamath River is mostly rough class IV+ rafting. It is best to get a guide if you are not familiar with the river. While the first few miles are class III rafting, it quickly changes into what they call Hell’s Corner Gorge with rapid whitewater the rest of the trip.

Hang Gliding

Be sure to pack your hang-gliding gear in the RV before you go if you are up for an adventure. The Whaleback Site in the Goosenest district of the Klamath National Forest is the best place to go for hang gliding. In fact, at 8,528 feet, the Whaleback Site is one of the tallest peaks in the forest and is perfect for glass-off, XC, and thermal flights. You must be P2/H2 proficient or higher and be trained in turbulence, high altitude, cliff launching, and flat slope launching. Check with the Goosenest Ranger District for more details.

Biking

Mountain biking in the Klamath National Forest can be pleasant and scenic or wild and rugged, depending on the trail you choose. The one-mile Big Ditch Trail is rated as easy. This trail runs east/west of Yreka’s Greenhorn Park. The 10.6-mile Gateway Trail Loop is an intermediate ride, and it starts and ends on Everitt Memorial Highway. And the 1.4-mile singletrack Sidewinder Trail is rated as difficult.

Off-Season

Hiking

There is over 530 miles of hiking trails that range from less than a mile to about 20 miles. If you want an easy walk, the half-mile Fools Gold Trail in Yreka is a nice flat loop trail. The Upper Goosenest Trail is rated intermediate and is just over two miles long. Plus, it has a spectacular view of Mount Shasta at the top. With 90 named trails in the Klamath National Forest, you should get out of that RV and take a hike.

Hunting

Whether you are hunting something large like bear or a little critter like a squirrel, you can find plenty of everything here in the Klamath National Forest. The lineup of large game include deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and wild pig. If you would rather hunt the smaller wildlife, there are tons of rabbits and squirrels out here. Big game hunting is best in the Goosenest Ranger District, but the Happy Camp-Oak Knoll Ranger District and Salmon/Scott River Ranger Districts are good too.

Skijoring

This sport has been around for many years but is not that popular in America. However, there are several spots in the Klamath National Forest where you can do some skijoring with a horse or dogs, whichever you choose. Skijoring is skiing with the assistance of a horse or two or more dogs. The Goosenest Ranger District has 135 miles of groomed trails, which are part of a 250-mile network of trails. Two parks cater to skijorers and cross-country skiers, which are Deer Mountain and Four Corners.