Siskiyou County: California’s Far North

Lake Siskiyou, Discover Siskiyou
Lake Siskiyou, Discover Siskiyou

Siskiyou: A Rarely Visited Slice of the Very Top of California

By Taylor Eck

Siskiyou is the northernmost county in California, bordering Oregon. It is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut with only 4% of the population, which means there is endless space to roam around and explore.

McCloud River Mercantile Co, Discover Siskiyou
McCloud River Mercantile Co, Discover Siskiyou

I had heard of Siskiyou and seen photos before, but there is nothing like traveling to a destination and experiencing the beauty first-hand, so my boyfriend and I decided to embark on a road trip.

Since we live in the Los Angeles area, we drove up to Siskiyou coming from the south up I-5. It’s a 9 1/2 hour drive, all the way up in the middle of California.

Railroad Car Resort

I’m all about finding unique places to stay when visiting somewhere new and the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir was as unique as it gets. Upon checking in, we were put in one of the resort’s railroad car rooms. The accommodations were cozy and had all the amenities of a standard hotel room.

While I loved and highly recommend the train-cars-turned-hotel-rooms, they also have cabins and RV and tent sites to appeal to all types of travelers

Siskiyou to LA map

Once we were all settled, we decided to explore Dunsmuir and found ourselves at The Wheelhouse. The vibe inside this place was enchanting and rustic. They had various plants throughout the restaurant for decoration as well as my personal favorite – string lights!

Patio by the Sacramento River

McCloud Meat Market and Tavern, Discover Siskiyou
McCloud Meat Market and Tavern, Discover Siskiyou

Even though the aesthetics inside were spot on, we were asked to sit outside on the patio so we could enjoy the sound of the Sacramento River.

We enjoyed some local beer and cider – my boyfriend’s favorite was the Southside Blonde! They also had board and card games for people to play when enjoying their time here. Overall, this was a great first stop on our Siskiyou adventure

We woke up early the next day and started our journey exploring Siskiyou. There are various waterfalls located throughout Siskiyou, including Hedge Creek Falls which is just north of the Railroad Park Resort. The hike to the waterfall was an easy quarter-mile walk that took us behind the water, which means we didn’t have to risk getting wet to enjoy the view.

Downtown McCloud, CA, Discover Siskiyou
Downtown McCloud, CA, Discover Siskiyou

It was truly a breathtaking sight as the rock wall behind the falls formed a natural shallow cave. I wanted to continue exploring, so we walked past the falls and found ourselves at a scenic overlook of the Sacramento River and Mt. Shasta.

We sat there for a while with a homemade charcuterie board and enjoyed the view. Of course, whenever you are bringing outside trash to a spot like this, it’s so important to leave it better than you found it, so we made sure to bring our own trash bag to keep in the car

Once we left the falls, we continued on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and headed toward McCloud Falls in search of the McCloud Falls Waterfall Trail. This was such a cool stop – we had no idea what we were in for upon arriving.

The trail led us to three waterfalls that had been formed by a river that had to run into erosion-resistant bands of basalt. The beauty of these waterfalls is astonishing and while on the trail, we met someone who told us to check out the Cattle Camp Swimming Hole, located just east of McCloud. We decided to make the stop, because why not? We were on an adventure!

This swimming hole is one of the best I’ve ever experienced – and even has a rope swing that was fun to swing on

McCloud, CA, Discover Siskiyou
McCloud, CA, Discover Siskiyou

Yak’s Shacks on Mt Shasta

At this point, we were pretty hungry, so we decided to stop and enjoy a late lunch at Yak’s Shack in Mount Shasta, which we had heard a lot about. This restaurant is different from Yaks on the 5 in Dunsmuir, which is a sit-down restaurant.

They are owned by the same people but Yak’s Shack has an entirely different vibe. It has colorful walls that radiate vibrant energy, which is the type of place we love. Their menu items all had fun names, too! I got something called a “Make Me Want To Cry Garlic Obsession,” which was a delicious burger with the patty covered in fermented garlic, topped with melted cheddar cheese, and more.

Even better, I was able to get a gluten-free bun, which is always a plus for me when traveling since I have Celiac. There really is something for everyone in Siskiyou

Spring Rolls at Natalee Thai

After this, we drove about another half hour north to Yreka, where we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express. For dinner, we stopped in at Natalee Thai where we enjoyed fresh spring rolls and panang curry before exploring the historic downtown district admiring the Gold Rush-era architecture and local shops. After our stroll, we were ready to hit the hay and get some rest for the next day of adventures!

The next day was our last day in Siskiyou. We picked up locally-roasted coffee and homemade pastries at Zephyr Books and Coffee on Miner Street and enjoyed our breakfast outside on the patio. After a stop at Greenhorn Park to walk around the reservoir and take in the mountain views, we hopped on I-5 to start the journey home.

Water Activities, Discover Siskiyou
Water Activities, Discover Siskiyou

Overall, it was a jam-packed trip but I was able to see so much of Siskiyou. The best part is that with all that I saw, there is still so much more to discover.

Take the Pledge in Siskiyou

Depending on where you want to go, you may be spending an hour or two in the car. It’s also important to educate yourself on how to be a responsible traveler in a scenic destination like Siskiyou, which is why the Siskiyou Pledge, Wander Above, was implemented.

This pledge encourages visitors and locals alike to educate themselves on how to keep Siskiyou clean for all who wander to the destination

Find out more about Siskiyou at their tourism website, Discover Siskiyou.

Taylor EckTaylor Eck is a Los Angeles-based writer with a passion for traveling. She loves discovering new destinations through her work and writing about her experience visiting. She loves writing about local businesses, hidden gems, exploring the outdoors and more.

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