Celebrating our 10th Anniversary, my wife and I rode out to the little town of McCloud, CA which sits on the southern slope of Mount Shasta on Highway 89 at about 3,200 feet above sea level. The mountain gives this picturesque little town so much personality as you ride into it from all different directions. The backdrop is that magnificent snow covered peak standing like a proud warrior in protection of its surroundings. Mount Shasta or as the natives knew it as Uytaahkoo literally means “White Mountain” in the Karuk language. The mountain has so much information about it I could go on for days, but basically it is 14,179 in height, it is the second tallest peak in the entire Cascade Mountain Range and it has 7 named glaciers on it. It is Northern California’s pride and joy.
Our ride to McCloud, we decided would consist mainly of riding only back roads we could find north up through the central valley and staying completely off the slabs. Once out of the hustle and bustle of all the city limits (in our way…) we headed out onto the Oroville Hwy or otherwise known as Hwy 70. Up and around Lake Oroville we rode out into the Feather River Canyon area which has got to be one of the most scenic of highways in the Norcal area. It was also the most scenic of railways for travelers in the 50’s riding the California Zephyr between the Pacific Northwest and our state.
This is such a wonderful ride for all the scenery; the terrain and elevation changes and contours of the turns and the smoothness of the roadways. You can really ‘run’ these roads and enjoy them. We left the canyon at Highway 89 towards Lake Almanor with our sights set on seeing the lake from the eastern side. (A turn on Highway 147 allowed us to do just that!) If you choose to, Hwy 89 continues on across the front of the dam and goes into Chester which we have been through many times already, but we were going to try a new direction this time and find our way back to Hwy 89 again further on up the road a piece.
We took 147 around the east side of Lake Almanor with so many beautiful views right from the road and headed for our little lunch break in the town of Westwood. There we had some pizza and salad at Buffalo Chip’s Pizza & Pub.
Was very good with homemade pizza dough and all the fixin’s. Leaving there we found some local fuel and headed on down Mooney Road out the back of town. This would take us out to Highway 44 around the backside of Mount Lassen which was still pretty well covered with snow at this time of year. I doubt we could have gotten over the pass there without some snow mobiles. Highway 44 would eventually lead us back to Highway 89 and into the Burney area. From this point on Hwy 89 opens up and has a lot of straight long roadway through the open forest lands. It’s an area where there’s not much to see for awhile and not many cars or people around. A good testing area for Bonneville runs if ya know what I mean. … Oh finally I see the White Mountain coming into view… that means we’re close…. Well not so fast…. It just means you can see it from very far away…. I think we rode another hour and a half after first sighting the Big White Behemoth in the distance. Then we saw a town sign…. WE are HERE!!!! And HERE was awesome!
We stayed at the McCloud Mercantile and it is really an amazing place with all kinds of little shops, a couple cafes, and just plain friendly country folk to make acquaintances with. We had dinner that night in town at the local Café and enjoyed some conversation with the owners about the town, their business and all the good things that makes it such a great place to be. Small town folk are just happy that way and enjoy expressing themselves to people that wonder and ask.
The next morning we had breakfast at the Café and ventured off on a day ride around Klammath Park. We took off up Hwy 5 to 97 and went to the east and then circled back around into Yreka via some farm roads. We found our way to Hwy 263 and made our way north out of town into big canyon country along the Old Shasta River. We turned west on Hwy 96 after crossing the Klammath River and began our river ride. Hwy 96 winds it way alongside the river for miles and it’s a great road, very minimal traffic, actually none! I think we saw one car in 50 miles. We stopped along the way and took a little stroll along the river and got a few pictures. At the confluence of the Klammath and Scott Rivers is Scott River Road; theres where we turned and headed south on our days journey towards…. Lunch.
Now Scott River Road is a 1 lane goat trail for the most part that traverses up the side of the Trinity Mountains in that region. The overhead bluffs that you look down from are majestic although harrowing for someone with any kind of fear of heights… which is not me.
Once back down from the mountain peaks it runs along the river and back out into the farm land which it supplies where it runs into Highway 3 at Fort Jones. Instead of taking Hwy 3 south at that point we crossed the two-lane and continued on Eastside Road which would take us into the town of Etna where we stopped in at Dotties for an Extreme Burger and some mega fries! What a great burger!... I forgot a picture of it, but it WAS good.
We left Dotties and headed south on Hwy 3 and made our way through the farm lands of irrigation districts and lots of stuff growing green and lush. After a spray or two, we made our way to Gazelle-Callahan Road and cut off towards the snowy peaked mountain tops in the distance. This road was another very nice find and it meandered its way through the canyons and up the peaks of some of the Klammath Forest area (I believe). There was one downhill section that almost every turn had dirt and gravel strewn across the apex and so couldn’t do much but try and make it safely through. Must have been a heavy rain there a few days before us, but on this day the sun was out and the sky was a full blue with no clouds to be seen in any direction. Gazelle-Callahan Road ends at Old Hwy 99S and that is where you come into full view of The White Mountain and she follows in every direction to wherever you go from there.
We stopped into Mount Shasta City for a walk around town. This is where the headwaters of the Sacramento River actually just bubble out of the ground from the aquifers below. We stopped into a local pub and had some refreshments as it was almost 90 degrees outside. It was beautiful! Talked with a few locals and continued our little walk around and then hit the road again for the few miles back to McCloud. Since it was so nice out we decide to run on out to Lake McCloud… how creative a name! This is a reservoir in the absolute middle of nowhere. But there were fisherman that had found it and they were out doing their thing. We rode around the paved side of the lake all the way to the dam. It was about 5-7 miles maybe but was a nice place to be cool in the late afternoon heat.
Nice day ride!
We took a few pictures by an old Fire Engine hook & Ladder Truck that was just outside of town. I would say it was from the 40-50’s era but it must have been a beautiful piece of machinery back in its day. It still was in my eyes. Love this old stuff!
For dinner that night we ventured across town… (across the highway) over to Aarons Steak house and met the nice people that run the place and had some good laughs with the bartenders there. We all told storys of our travels through life… ours being a little more literal on that trip.
The next day was the ride home, this time outside of the confines of Hwy 5 all the way. We found the side roads that travel south on the eastern side and it took a bit longer but was sure a lot more relaxing and less stressful. Mostly on highways 99, 45, and 20 along the Sacramento river for the most part.
Another great ride, home safe and sound.