Join Date: Feb 2008
Riding the Ranges: Late may, the mountains of N. California. Klamath, Shasta-Trinity and Lassen forest maps helpful.
Basic road route summary: Bay area up 101 through Ave. of the Giants, Inland from Crescent City on 199, cutting off to Happy Camp, then to Soames Bar, up to Etna, down to Callahan, and West to Forks of Salmon, back to 3, south to Whiskytown res, then 299 to Redding, north to Hwy 89, down to 44 then Susanville [Lassen highway still under snow!], back on 36 to Chester and Lake Almanor, then down 70 and back home via 99, 113 and I-80.
Important note: Some of these mountain roads – esp. from Crescent City to Happy Camp, up the Salmon River over to Hwy 3 at Etna and down to Forks of Salmon have steep and protracted grades with low speed hairpin turns, narrow roads no guardrails and shoulders in some spots. – we had to stop two times to allow our brakes to cool and we have a manual transmission on the Subaru. If you are uncomfortable with long steep grades, use caution. If you travel with 46’ of American Pride and a nice big Toad, God help you, you WILL need it at some locations.
Stops – we stayed in the following locations, in order:
1. Standish-Hickey SRA – just north of Leggett on 101. OK campground, no showers, water and a nice river to hang around in though. The river access bridges are only installed Memorial Day to Labor day. Right off the highway so a bit noisy. $15 bucks I believe
2. Prairie Creek Redwoods SP – This is an OUTSTANDING camping park, with a local herd of Elk. Decent showers [coin op] and the camp has plenty of trees and a couple of sites around a large grassy area. Popular but not all sites are subject to pre-reservation. $20 night I think. We have camped here two times and happy both of them.
3. Dillon Creek: On Hwy 96 between Happy Camp and Orleans. Shop in Crescent City for all food and ice for several days – Happy camp has fuel and ice but not much else. There are a number of camp grounds along this popular whitewater river. Dillon has water and vault toilets and a creek. Lots of Poison Oak in spots. $10/night. There is a creek nearby. Not a great spot but OK.
4. Idlewild campground: Drive south on 96, then turn east on 93, north east on 1C01 to Sawyers Bar, then keep going. The road from Mouth of Salmon thru Sawyers bar is narrow, has no shoulders, steep drop offs and is often one lane. It’s also very high grades. This camp was exceptional for it’s location, good trees and access to free firewood, and vault toilets – no showers. We were there before it was open [water system was not certified for use yet] and paid nothing for the site – we liked it enough to stay 3 nights. This campground reminded me of camping in the Colorado Rockies, as did Trail Creek. Warm days, cool nights.
Sawyers Bar is an interesting town, you can’t miss it – we were told there’s a couple million in gold under the 1800’s catholic church in town.
5. Trail Creek Campground: Another forest service camp: Continue east to Etna [stopping at Ray’s supermarket to restock – it’s a decent grocery and the only one around for a LONG ways], then South to Callahan and west again on 93. Trail creek appears to be used mostly as a hunting camp, it was very quiet and the last site is very private. The contractor here keeps the vault toilets spotless and there’s good water on tap. $10 a night. We stayed here two nights it was very nice – you are almost 5,000 msl so the nights are cool.
We had a herd of blacktail deer come thru camp about 9 pm which was sort of unusual. There is a ton of free wood lying on the ground in this location.
Note: We left the trailer here and drove to Forks of Salmon just to see the road – narrow, steep is the rule of the day – both of these might be best accessed from the East if you have a large rig.
6. Alpine View: We backtracked to Callahan, then went south on 3 to the Trinity res. Alpine view was empty – no showers, $15/night, and we were the only people there – the lake is down almost 85’ from spillway right now. Nice campground but it would be a bit crowded if full.
7. Middle Falls: We left and went south to Weaverville and into Redding for a full re-stock of the larder and ice, then jetted North on I-5 up to Hwy 89 where we headed east. Middle falls is a decent campground – it was crowded however and popular fishing location apparently.
8. Hat creek: We continued on 89 stopped at Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV and campground, it’s a Good Sam Park, private with a fishing pond, some play areas etc. Their showers ain’t all that great [but they are hot!], it’s a pretty place and reasonably bug-free – we spent two nights [almost $30 a night without services] and spent a day in Burney shopping for antiques, etc. If you are in this area Monday-Friday, the Hat Creek Radio Observatory is nearby and an interesting visit for a free tour. The campground has some grass sites for tents, some full service RV sites as well. You can hear the highway, but it’s a nice location regardless.
There’a also a PG+E campground $18/night, at Cassel, right nearby that looks popular.
9. Lake Almanor: Because Lassen highway was closed, after leaving Hat Creek, we cut over to Susanville and back to Lake Almanor, where we stayed right on the lake at the PG+E camp just north of Canyon Dam - $18 night with vault toilets, paved parking, water and we were literally a stones throw from the water’s edge. There was a nesting pair of Osprey flying around all afternoon, which was quite cool. We must have been early season, we pretty much had a 100 site campground to share with two other groups.
We went home from there.