From Happy Camp
Coming in on DH50 O’Brien, OR – Happy Camp
Turn right on Hwy 96. You’re on the road.
Coming in on DH23 Yreka – Happy Camp (Hwy 96)
Keep going straight on Hwy 96. When you leave Happy Camp, you’re
on the road.
From Willow Creek
Coming in on DH31 Blue Lake (Arcata) – Willow Creek (Hwy 299)
Coming in on DH13 Weaverville – Willow Creek (Hwy 299)
Go north on Hwy 96. You’re on the road.
TOUR NOTE: There are
many marked river access spots along the Klamath River. They can
be a little hazardous to access on a bike, though, unless you’re
particularly skilled at turning around a fully loaded tourer in
deep gravel. As a result, you may want to sus it out on foot
before riding down. Or leave your bike at the top.
You’re on a narrow bit of benchland for first couple miles out
of Happy Camp, one that provides enough space for some cottages,
campers and a small field before the steepening slope puts an
end to all that. At 2.0 mi (3.2 km), the highway starts to look
like a motorcycle road, sweeping against a bare rock cliff
looking across a wild river at an unspoiled background of
The road continues to curve as it rises and falls along the
riverbank. A few horizontal tar strips patch the winter cracks
on this pretty ride along the river. The left roadside either
shoots up sharply as granite cliffs or angles up gently as brown
and silver-green grassland clustered with yew, black oak,
Ponderosa Pine and juniper. It’s an easy ride, too, with good
visibility around most of the big sweepers.
There’s a surprise house perched on a rare bit of flat as you
cross the Clear Creek Bridge at 8.1 mi (13.0 km). Despite his
screwing around with this DH’s remoteness, you can understand
why this suburban pioneer would decide to plant his footings
above this visually striking stretch of river.
Fortunately, Clear Creek won’t be turning into another
Weaverville very soon. The pitched right hand slope quickly
re-establishes its presence, though it’s overshadowed by the
lichen-tinged bluff that bulges forcefully out into the river
from the other side. A tunnel of foliage temporarily blocks the
view, but soon the dominant theme re-emerges: a lonely road
curling steadily along the river with layers of mountains in the
distance fading from green to blue.
Just when you think you’re finally moving into the Siskiyou
Wilderness, there’ll be a couple of mailboxes like the ones by
the Independence River access at 11.5 mi (18.5 km) to spoil the
sensation. Not that there aren’t plenty of other sensations to
focus on. Like that feeling of suspending your weight over
blurred pavement, surrendering to the forces of speed and
The fast sweepers continue, twisting off into the distance. And
in the distance, they get even better. Esses link up, starting
at 15.4 mi (24.8 km), carrying you along two sections of chalky
cliffs. Looking down at the river from the high vantage point at
16.1 mi (25.9 km), the river appears as still as mirrored glass.
If only H-D would hurry up and produce an amphibious motorcycle.
Hey, after the V-Rod, anything’s possible.
“Bicycles Next 20 Miles” reads the sign at 17.5 mi (28.2 km).
Sigh. It seems that wherever you have a quiet, scenic,
well-paved road, you can always trust Mr. and Mrs. Spandex to
try and get into the act. Given the sweeping nature of most of
the curves on this road, maybe you can let them have the paved
shoulder all to themselves this time. All six inches of it.
There’s a bit of straightening now as the terrain plateaus into
a bench spun with trees and gold grass. But it’s brief. At 18.9
mi (30.4 km) a pair of sweepers signal the commencement of
another lean-lady-lean set of twisties. The road contorts as it
dives downward into a steep gorge, passing the Dillon Creek BCG
at 21.3 mi (34.3 km).
You cross the river for the first time at 22.1 mi (35.6 km). The
bank is not as steep on this side but the road’s still nice and
sweepy. Since the road never wavers from its course along the
river, this gives you the variety of the opposite bank’s
perspective on the river and surrounding mountains. The
terrain’s gentler, though, and this takes its toll when you
enter a short section of straight at 24.4 mi (39.3 km). No cause
for alarm as there are many more curves to come.
Indeed, the road starts to gently curve again as soon as 25.8 mi
(41.5 km) -- right about the point the pavement takes a
downturn. You don’t see much of the river here, just the slope
off to the right angling down through mixed, interleafed forest.
The trees covering the contoured mountains, ridges and vales
create a soft, fairytale scene.
The river reappears at 28.2 mi (45.4 km) and with the slight
eastward shift, you can make out the blue, bear-market shape of
Offield Mtn. You lose the scenery as the DH rallies with a run
of shallow curves. But then at 29.9 mi (48.1 km), you get it
all—a long, steep, sweeper steers you around a steep rockface to
a wide view over and across the river.
There are a few impressive curves as you negotiate downwards at
31.9 mi (51.3 km) toward the river crossing. But the dramatic
span of the H. Lyle Davis Memorial Bridge itself is far more
impressive. As is the fact that CalTrans had the class to name
it after the heavy equipment operator whose number came up while
At 35.9 mi (57.8 km), Sugarloaf Rock, a big piece of mossy rock
reminiscent of a chia pet gets thrown into the scenic mix. It
overlooks Somes Bar, the confluence of the Salmon and Klamath
Rivers and locale of the Pic-Ya-Wish Ceremonial Site at 36.6 mi
(58.9 km). So that’s what’s going on here. You’ve been wishing
upon a star for a remote, winding, well-engineered road with no
traffic and nary an STC. And your wish is finally being granted.
River Rd (TE-A) turns off left at 37.9 mi (60.1 km). Then
a bridge takes you across the deep gorge of Salmon River and
into Humboldt County. The jurisdictional change makes no
difference to the scenery, however. At 38.9 mi (62.6 km), you
glimpse the road ahead twist atop an enormous face that
verticals straight down to the river. Think it looks great? It
feels even better. The 39.4 mi (56.2 km) mark puts you into the
first S-curves you’ve seen in a while.
By 40.7 mi (65.5), the road has resumed its familiar, gently
winding form. The scene changes a little as you gradually
descend. The white foam of the riffling river bubbles beneath
black and brown cliffs across the way. At 96 degrees in the
shade, chances are you’ll be in that water before this ride is
out. Even if it does require a trip down a third world road to
one of the gravel river access bars to get to it.
The curves undergo some minor tightening at 42.2 mi (67.9 km).
But just as things were starting to feel like they might get
interesting again, a sign welcomes you to Orleans at 43.8 mi
(70.5 km) and you cross the river into town. Orleans is a bit of
a disappointment, too. Its French Quarter offers a choice of the
Bigfoot Country Store and the Orleans Market Pizza & BBQ. Oh,
well. C’est la vie.
The speed zone’s back up to 55 mph (90 kmh) at 45.3 mi (72.9
km). You cross Camp Creek and begin a long, steady,
increasingly-curvy descent along the west side of the river. The
pavement roughs up a bit at 48.4 mi (77.9 km), probably a result
of the crumbly slopes and rockfaces that get in your face as you
ess gently along the slope. At 51.1 mi (82.2 km), the pavement
resumes its fine form. And so do you.
Despite its high rating for scenery, this DH has few real mind
blowing scenic events. Its attractiveness lies in the consistent
reel of low treed mountains, rock faces and river perspectives
that unfold before you in different ways as you travel southeast
through the rugged Siskiyou, Marble and Salmon Ranges. The scene
at 52.2 mi (84.0 km) offers a classic example. From the Slate
Creek crossing, the road ahead banks upward off the river,
climbing the glinting, slate slopes that lie bald beneath a
tousled combover of trees .
The river curves off to the left while the road turns to the
right at 53.4 mi (85.9 km). You cross the steep-sided Bluff
Creek, then the highway nips behind a huge rocky knoll that
marks the creek’s confluence with the Klamath River. Now the
steepness is on your left in the form of a bare, dominating
curtain of rock that hides the river on the other side.
The road continues to sweep respectably through the rock and
treed landscape, toward the distinctive outline of Mill Creek
Ridge. The buildings on the left at 54.8 mi (88.2 km) are part
of the low-key Bluff Creek Resort. You’re back along the river
at 57.3 mi (92.2 km) where you cross the Yurock Reservation
Boundary. And you do indeed rock, all the way through the steady
curves that carry you across the Klamath to Weitchpec, the
townlet where the Trinity and Klamath Rivers meet at 59.2 mi
You were riding downriver on the Klamath. Now you’re riding
upriver along the Trinity. Though you wouldn’t know it at first
as you move into a deeply treed section. The mega-foliage is
short lived and you emerge along a slope to your first clear
view of the Trinity River at 60.7 mi (97.7 km). There’s nothing
short-lived about the mega-curves, though. They continue and get
tighter to boot, a trend exemplified by the particularly
sphincter-clenching sweeper at 61.3 mi (98.6 km).
Your whole tire is in play as the sweetest piece of this road so
far flits in an out of the trees, winding and weeping along
cliffs above the river. At 63.2 mi (101.7 km), the DH narrows,
with the expected twisty consequences. Despite the tightness of
the corners, visibility is outstanding around most of them. And
with the pavement holding its own, there’s no reason not to be
adding that little extra wear to the outer edges of your rubber.
Unless it’s that rather-too-cliff-like slope that pitches off to
tight stuff climaxes with a long chain of S-curves hanging
precariously over the river, clinging to a sharp, extruding
rockface. Then, more moderate esses take over, winding you down
to the Indian town of Hoopa at 66.7 mi (107.3 km). What’s the
Hoopa all about? It sure ain’t the straightaway that bisects the
long and wide Hoopa Valley.
This broad valley seems particularly vast compared to the
narrow, steep sides of the Klamath. That may be interesting
enough that you’re not immediately thrown by the sudden
development, lack of curves and inevitable speed zone. But by
the time you hit Hoopa’s uneven block of services at 69.3 mi
(111.5 km), the novelty has long worn off.
Doo de doo de doo de…. Hey, what happened? After the drab
straightness along the river, the DH surprises you with a curve.
But Hoopa’s not a memory yet. After all, if the land’s flat,
you’ve gotta put buildings on it. Or at least some junked out
cars. You’re not officially out of this tidbit of scenic misery
until the river bends at 73.6 mi (118.4 km). And takes the road
This was worth the wait. Smooth, brilliantly engineered pavement
lashes up a steep granite slope. There’s a commanding view of
the Trinity River before the blacktop contorts into the thick
trees. Despite the mostly forested setting, sightlines are
great. As is the feeling you get as you hone your cornering
technique on this virtually faultless piece of road.
You know it’s over when you notice an RV Park on your left at
79.1 mi (127.27 km). Nothing against alternative lifestyles, but
why here? Not that it matters; the land has flattened out again,
leaving few if any curves for these burly pylons to negotiate on
the final miles to Hwy 299 and the not-so princely town of
Willow Creek, at 82.0 mi (132.0 km).
TE-A Somes Bar – Butler Flat (7.0 mi / 11.3 km) Salmon
Why is the first 7.0 mi (11.3 km) of Salmon River Rd paved and
engineered like a fantasy when the rest of route to Cecilville
hasn’t been upgraded since about the year Grimm’s Fairy Tales
were written? Maybe when we’re older, we’ll understand.
Meanwhile, just enjoy the reverie of this enchanted,
traffic-free stretch of road through the riverside woods.
NOTE: Butler Flat, right down beside the river, provides a
natural spot to stop before turning around and heading back. For
braver souls, the road continues as a paved, but mostly one-lane
goat path for another 27.6 mi (44.4 km) to Cecilville. There are
some extremely precarious sections where this sullivan is
crumbling away atop a straight drop down to the Salmon River and
is so narrow, you’d be lucky to get a trike through by itself,
let alone edge past a pylon coming the other way. Your reward
for taking your life in your hands? Direct access to the
fabulous DH2 Cecilville - Callahan.