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Klamath-Siskiyou Sasquatch Safari

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

The Klamath-Siskyou (KS) ecoregion is one of the most biodiverse conifer ecosystems within the world. The KS is one of the wild regions in the lower 48. With over 30 different conifer species and an abundance of wild and scenic rivers, it's easy to see why this is Sasquatch country.

Route Overview

Adventure Rating: Epic

Trip Length: 256 mi, 4 - 7 days

Season: June to November (check with the Forest Service regarding snow levels on Mt Ashland).

Technical Rating: Nearly all green, with a few very mild blue sections.

Typical Terrain: A mixture of mostly graded dirt forest roads and some pavement to connect the off-road sections (approx 70% dirt / 30% pavement). There are a few old trails with ruts from erosion that may also be tight for wider vehicles like Sprinter Vans.

Recommended Vehicle: Truck or SUV with 4x4 and all terrain tires.

Adventure Vans: Sprinter 4x4s should be able to manage the entire route. However, there are a few lesser traveled trails with encroaching trees and brush (from the top and sides), which may make passage tight or even difficult.

Alternative Routes: n/a

Route Details

The Klamath-Siskyou (KS) ecoregion covers 11 million acres across the Coastal Mountain Ranges of Far Northern California and Southern Oregon, and is considered a global center for biodiversity and one of the wildest places in the contiguous United States. It has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of conifers in the world, with 36 different species of conifer having been identified in the region. Outside of Alaska, the Klamath-Siskyou has the largest number of designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, with the Rogue River (north) and the Klamath River (south) being the dominant rivers in the area. While lightly traveled, outdoor recreation such as fishing, river rafting, hiking, and mountain biking are all popular in the KS, especially along the Rogue River and Mt Ashland corridors.

Part of the reason for the KS's biodiversity, is due to the fact that its a transition zone for several major biotas, namely the Great Basin, Oregon Coast Range, Cascades, the Sierra Nevada, California's Central Valley, and the Coastal Province of Northern California. Along the coast, the temperate rainforest see as much as 120 inches of rain per annum, while the mountains along the eastern front may see as little as 20 inches in a season. Emerald forests of Douglas fir and other species of conifer dominate the higher elevation and western fronts, while a mixture of conifer, oak, and savanna can be found at lower elevations and further inland. The route begins in the quaint college town of Ashland, famous for its outdoor Shakespeare Festival. From town, the route immediately begins to ascend Mt Ashland, a local favorite for snow sports during winter, and mountain biking in the summer. As you make your way to the crest of the ridge, the massive cinder cone of Mt Shasta (which is actually 4 cinder cones) comes into view. The southern section of the route is comprised primarily of dirt roads that follow various ridge tops and ridge lines. This section of the route stops at two fire lookouts (which can be reserved for lodging) along the way, providing excellent views of the Siskyou Crest. Pay close attention to the flora and geology, and notice how the diversity and species of plants changes as you move from one ecological zone to another. These changes are even more prevalent as you look west where the lower elevation mountains are draped in green forests, while to the east, the mountainsides are noticeably drier and less forested, which is indicative of the eastern region's drier climate. The southern section makes several ascents and descents in the ridge lines and mountains surrounding Applegate lake, until finally climbing over Whiskey Peak and dropping into the Applegate River Valley, which also happens to be home to one the Applegate Valley AVA (a great place to stop if you're into wine). Passing numerous hamlets and countryside villages, this portion of the route sees more pavement than the mountain section before it. Applegate Valley was also once home to the Applegate Mining District, with over 7,000 mines, and 600 of which are still active. Some of Oregon's largest gold nuggets were extracted from the area's mines. Heading north, the dominant river of the northern Klamath-Siskyou rears its mighty head-- the Rogue River, world famous for its white water rafting. The lower Rogue just outside of Grant's Pass features some of the rivers most sought after rapids. The Rogue is also popular among anglers, especially those fishing for stealhead, Chinook and Coho salmon. Here, the route mostly follows the banks of the Rogue River, only departing for a short off road jaunt on the slopes above the Rogue before meeting back with the pavement as it parallels the Rogue. As the Rogue cuts westward, the route continues its march north towards Winston. The majority of land in this section is managed by BLM, and hopefully to your delight, you'll be enjoying much more dirt on the final third of the route. The mountains in the northern section are much lower in elevation, rarely surpassing 3,500'. Eventually the route drops into the Cow Creek main drainage, and then explores tributary drainages, like Doe Creek. The route meets its terminus along the banks of the South Umpqua River.

Camping Recommendations

Dispersed camping is permitted throughout public lands managed by the National Forest and BLM, unless signage indicates otherwise. We strongly encourage off road travelers to take advantage of dispersed camping opportunities, but please be mindful of forest and BLM boundaries.

Discovery Points

  • DP1 - Ashland

  • DP2 - Mt Ashland

  • DP3 - Meridian Overlook

  • DP4 - Dutchman Lookout

  • DP5 - Squaw Peak Lookout

  • DP6 - McKee Covered Bridge

  • DP7 - Applegate River

  • DP8 - Gin Lin Mining Trail

  • DP9 - Whiskey Peak

  • DP10 - English Lavender Farm

  • DP11 - Applegate Valley AVA

  • DP12 - Applegate Mining District

  • DP13 - Applegate River

  • DP14 - Robertson Bridge

  • DP15 - Rogue River

  • DP16 - South Umpqua River

>> Always check with local land managers for road closures and conditions.

Recommended Maps

  • Google Maps

  • Gaia GPS (Nat Geo Trails Illustrated layer, Gaia base layer)

Download GPX file

TIP: To expose alternative routes and points of interest in Google Maps, open the sidebar and select the desired layer.


Land Managers

Other Resources


Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by Overland Trail Guides, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.

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