Siskiyou Wilderness

The Siskiyou Wilderness is a federal wilderness area designated by the passage of the California Wilderness Act of 1984. Originally, the land area was 153,000 acres (620 km2)[1] The Northern California Wild Heritage Act of 2006 added 30,122 acres (121.90 km2) for the current total of 182,802 acres (739.77 km2). All of the wilderness is in Northern California and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The wilderness spans three national forests: the Rogue River–Siskiyou, the Klamath, and the Six Rivers.

The Siskiyou Mountains form one of the longest continuous crests in the Klamath Mountains region. Elevations range from 770 feet (230 m) to the summit of Preston Peak at 7,309 feet (2,228 m) above sea level. Trending in a north–south direction from the Oregon border down to near the town of Weitchpec and 20 miles (32 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean, the Siskiyous are dotted by rocky peaks rising over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) from the surrounding lowlands.[2]

Siskiyou Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Jeffrey pine Siskiyou Wilderness
A map of the United States showing the location of the Siskiyou Wilderness
A map of the United States showing the location of the Siskiyou Wilderness
LocationDel Norte / Siskiyou / Humboldt counties, California, United States
Nearest cityCrescent City, California
Coordinates41°41′08″N 123°45′03″W / 41.68556°N 123.75083°WCoordinates: 41°41′08″N 123°45′03″W / 41.68556°N 123.75083°W
Area182,802 acres (739.77 km2)
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service

Flora and fauna

The Siskiyou Wilderness contains a diverse collection of conifer species including rarities such as Alaska cedar, Port Orford cedar, and the Klamath Mountains-endemic Brewer spruce.[3] It is notable for the vast amounts of old-growth forests and many endemic species of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, as well as one of the world's largest concentrations of lilies.[4]

The wilderness is home to several rare species, including wolverine, martin, fisher, northern spotted owl and Roosevelt elk. There is also black bear, black-tailed deer, and many varieties of birds. The clear streams provide spawning grounds for steelhead, coho and Chinook salmon.[5]

Preston southface
Snow-capped Preston Peak


The Clear Creek National Recreation Trail crosses 20.5 miles (33.0 km) of the northern portion and provides access to some of the more scenic parts of the wilderness—from near the Klamath River to the Smith River (California) divide. In the southern part of the wilderness, the Kelsey National Recreation Trail begins at Bear Lake, and the experienced hiker can walk for about 20 miles (32 km) to the Smith River. The most heavily visited areas are in the northwest corner of the region—concentrated on trails that lead to lakes. Much of the area lacks trails and is difficult to access cross-country because of the dense brush. [6] The Bigfoot Trail traverses the crest of the wilderness from north to south, through some of the most remote areas.

See also


  1. ^ "California Wilderness Act of 1984" (PDF). p. 5.
  2. ^ Adkinson 2001, p. 292.
  3. ^ Kauffmann, Michael (2012). Conifer Country. Kneeland: Backcountry Press. ISBN 978-0-578-09416-8.
  4. ^ Adkinson 2001, p. 294.
  5. ^ Adkinson 2001, p. 294-5.
  6. ^ "Siskiyou Wilderness". Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  7. ^ "Monthly data for Siskiyou Wilderness". The Weather Channel.


  • Adkinson, Ron (2001). Wild Northern California. The Globe Pequot Press.

External links

Bear Mountain (Siskiyou County, California)

Bear Mountain is a mountain located in the Siskiyou Mountains of Northern California in the United States. The summit, located in Siskiyou County, is at an elevation of 6,411 feet (1,954 m). The highest point in Del Norte County is located just west of the summit at about 6400+ feet (1951+ meters). The mountain is in the Siskiyou Wilderness and straddles the county boundary, which also separates the Six Rivers and Klamath national forests.

A cirque named Devils Punchbowl containing a tarn is located on the mountain's north side.

Due to its location near the Pacific Ocean, the mountain normally receives tremendous snowfall during the winter.

Bigfoot Trail

The Bigfoot Trail is an unofficial U.S. long-distance hiking trail in northern California. The Bigfoot Trail was originally proposed by Michael Kauffmann in 2009 as a suggested route to navigate the Klamath Mountains from south to north as well as a long-trail to introduce nature lovers to the biodiversity of the Klamath Mountains region. The trail begins in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and ends in Redwood National Park at the Pacific Ocean near Crescent City, California. A major focus along the trail is conifer diversity, passing 32 species in 360 miles (580 km). The route crosses six wilderness areas, one National Park, and one State Park. Northwest California's Klamath Mountains foster one of the most diverse temperate coniferous forests on Earth, and this route is intended to be a celebration of that biodiversity.

Blue Creek (California)

Blue Creek is a 23-mile (37 km) long stream in the Northern Coast Ranges of California, and is the lowermost major tributary of the Klamath River. The creek begins in Elk Valley, in the Siskiyou Wilderness of the Six Rivers National Forest in Del Norte County. It flows southwest, receiving several major tributaries including the East Fork, Crescent City Fork, Nickowitz Creek, Slide Creek and the West Fork. It flows into the Klamath River in Humboldt County, 16 miles (26 km) upstream from where the Klamath empties into the Pacific Ocean.The Blue Creek watershed covers about 47,000 acres (19,000 ha) and is considered one of the most pristine areas in the Klamath River Basin. The area is within the historic territory of the Yurok people. During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Blue Creek valley was subject to intensive logging, but the area has begun to recover with recent conservation efforts by the Yurok Tribe.Blue Creek is a critical migration point for salmon and steelhead in the Klamath River watershed. Summer water temperatures in Blue Creek are typically lower than the main stem Klamath; migrating fish can lower their body temperature considerably by resting in Blue Creek, increasing their chances of survival upriver. Blue Creek itself, with no dams or diversions, also provides good spawning habitat for these fish.The confluence of Blue Creek with the Klamath River is directly downstream from the original planned site of Ah Pah Dam, a massive structure proposed in the 1950s which would have diverted the Klamath River to Southern California.

California Wilderness Act of 1984

The California Wilderness Act of 1984 is a federal law (Public Law 98-425), passed by the United States Congress on September 28, 1984, that authorized the addition of over 3 million acres (12,000 km2) within the state of California to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Klamath Mountains

The Klamath Mountains are a rugged and lightly populated mountain range in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon in the western United States. They have a varied geology, with substantial areas of serpentinite and marble, and a climate characterized by moderately cold winters with very heavy snowfall and warm, very dry summers with limited rainfall, especially in the south. As a consequence of the geology and soil types, the mountains harbor several endemic or near-endemic trees, forming one of the largest collections of conifers in the world. The mountains are also home to a diverse array of fish and animal species, including black bears, large cats, owls, eagles, and several species of Pacific salmon. Millions of acres in the mountains are managed by the United States Forest Service. The northernmost and largest sub-range of the Klamath Mountains are the Siskiyou Mountains.

Klamath Mountains (ecoregion)

The Klamath Mountains ecoregion of Oregon and California lies inland and north of the Coast Range ecoregion, extending from the Umpqua River in the north to the Sacramento Valley in the south. It encompasses the highly dissected ridges, foothills, and valleys of the Klamath and Siskiyou Mountains. It corresponds to the Level III ecoregion designated by the Environmental Protection Agency and to the Klamath-Siskiyou forests ecoregion designated by the World Wide Fund for Nature.The ecoregion, also known as a geomorphic province, was unglaciated during the Pleistocene epoch, when it served as a refuge for northern plant species. Its mix of granitic, sedimentary, metamorphic, and extrusive rocks contrasts with the predominantly volcanic rocks of the Cascades ecoregion to the northeast. The mild, subhumid climate of the region is characterized by a lengthy summer drought. It supports a mosaic of both northern Californian and Pacific Northwestern conifers and hardwoods.

Klamath National Forest

Klamath National Forest is a 1,737,774-acre (2,715 sq mi; 7,033 km2) national forest, in the Klamath Mountains, located in Siskiyou County in northern California, but with a tiny extension (1.5 percent of the forest) into southern Jackson County in Oregon. The forest contains continuous stands of ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, Douglas fir, red fir, white fir and incense cedar. Old growth forest is estimated to cover some 168,000 acres (680 km2) of the forest land. Forest headquarters are located in Yreka, California. There are local ranger district offices located in Fort Jones, Happy Camp, and Macdoel, all in California. Klamath was established on May 6, 1905. This park includes the Kangaroo Lake and the Sawyers Bar Catholic Church is located within the boundaries of the Forest.

List of largest wilderness areas in the United States

This is a list of the largest wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System of the United States. It includes all that are larger than 50,000 acres (200 km²). Statistics are as retrieved in September 2009 from Where instances of multiple states or agencies occur, they are listed in descending order of included acreage. The last column lists the entities that the wilderness is entirely (in most cases) part of, or partially included in (minority of cases, usually involving parts of the wilderness that are in otherwise unnamed BLM lands). They are also listed in descending order of included acreage. Agency abbreviations: BLM = Bureau of Land Management; FS = Forest Service; FWS = Fish and Wildlife Service; NPS = National Park Service.

Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n

Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, 485 U.S. 439 (1988), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled on the applicability of the Free Exercise Clause to the practice of religion on Native American sacred lands, specifically in the Chimney Rock area of the Six Rivers National Forest in California. This area, also known as the High Country, was used by the Yurok, Karuk, and Tolowa tribes as a religious site.

The ruling is considered a key example of judicial restraint by the Supreme Court.

Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act

The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act is a U.S. federal law enacted in 2006 that enlarged existing wilderness boundaries and created new wilderness areas for protection under the National Wilderness Preservation System. These newly designated protected wilderness areas help safeguard habitat for more than 250 endangered species including the California condor and the bristlecone pine, the oldest living trees on earth.

It also added Wild and Scenic status to sections of the Black Butte River, created the Cow Mountain Recreation Area and designated the Elkhorn Ridge Potential Wilderness Area.

The Act was sponsored by Representative Mike Thompson and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and was signed into law on October 17, 2006.

Preston Peak

Preston Peak (Karuk: keech'íihyan), is a dominant feature of the Siskiyou Wilderness in the Klamath National Forest. Many peaks in the wilderness rise to over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) but none come to within 500 feet (150 m) of approaching the height of Preston Peak. From the summit on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean is visible along with peaks in the Klamath Mountains and Cascade Range.

John Hart, in his book Hiking the Bigfoot Country says of the peak:

At a mile and some above sea level it is by no means the highest peak in the Klamath Mountains...Yet there is no mountain in northern California which I remember with more pleasure. They say that early travellers on the Klamath River, glimpsing the mountain above them, thought it was 10,000 feet tall.


The Forest Service designated the peak and watershed around the peak the Preston Peak Botanical and Geological Area because of the rare plants and associations of plants that can be found. Here the Alaska cedar and noble fir reach the southern terminus of their range

and share habitat with the northwest California endemic Brewer spruce and Port Orford cedar. There is also an interesting population of high elevation Pacific yew on the peak that, along with a few other population in the Klamath Mountains, may justify reclassification as at least a subspecies.

A few other rare plants living on or around the peak are the phantom orchid and Siskiyou fritillary.

Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest

The Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest is a United States National Forest in the U.S. states of Oregon and California. The formerly separate Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests were administratively combined in 2004. Now, the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest ranges from the crest of the Cascade Range west into the Siskiyou Mountains, covering almost 1.8 million acres (7,300 km2). Forest headquarters are located in Medford, Oregon.

Serpentine soil

Serpentine soil is an uncommon soil type produced by weathered ultramafic rock such as peridotite and its metamorphic derivatives such as serpentinite. More precisely, serpentine soil contains minerals of the serpentine subgroup, especially antigorite, lizardite, and chrysotile or white asbestos, all of which are commonly found in ultramafic rocks. The term "serpentine" is commonly used to refer to both the soil type and the mineral group which forms its parent materials.

Serpentine soils exhibit distinct chemical and physical properties and are generally regarded as poor soils. The soil is often reddish, brown, or gray in color due to its high iron and low organic content. Geologically, areas with serpentine bedrock are characteristically steep, rocky, and vulnerable to erosion, which causes many serpentine soils to be rather shallow. The shallow soils and sparse vegetation lead to elevated soil temperatures and dry conditions. Due to their ultramafic origin, serpentine soils also suffer from a low calcium-to-magnesium ratio and lack many essential nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Serpentine soils contain high concentrations of heavy metals, including chromium, iron, cobalt, and nickel. Together, these factors create serious ecological challenges for plants living in serpentine soils.

Siskiyou Mountains

The Siskiyou Mountains are a coastal subrange of the Klamath Mountains, and located in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon in the United States. They extend in an arc for approximately 100 miles (160 km) from east of Crescent City, California, northeast along the north side of the Klamath River into Josephine and Jackson counties in Oregon. The mountain range forms a barrier between the watersheds of the Klamath River to the south and the Rogue River to the north.

These mountains are not the highest of the Klamath Mountains, but due to the relief so close to the Pacific Ocean, the peaks receive more precipitation than the surrounding land. This leads to forests that grow with heavy vegetation. Diversity abounds because western canyons can receive over 100 inches (2,500 mm) of rain in some winters while eastern areas are slightly more arid. Since the Siskiyous trend both north to south and then east to west, they hold species that range from coastal, like Coast Redwood, to Cascadian, like Alaska Yellow-Cedar and Pacific Silver Fir.

Much of the range is within the Rogue River – Siskiyou and Klamath national forests. The Pacific Crest Trail follows a portion of the ridge of the range. The Klamath-Siskiyou forests are noted for their high biodiversity.

Six Rivers National Forest

Six Rivers National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the northwestern corner of California. It was established on June 3, 1947 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman from portions of Klamath, Siskiyou and Trinity National Forests. Its over one million acres (4,000 km2) of land contain a variety of ecosystems and 137,000 acres (550 km2) of old growth forest. It lies in parts of four counties; in descending order of forestland area they are Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou counties. The forest is named after the Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath, Trinity, Mad, and Smith rivers, which pass through or near the forest's boundaries.

The forest has 366 miles (589 km) of wild and scenic rivers, six distinct botanical areas, and public-use areas for camping, hiking, and fishing. The northernmost section of the forest is known as the Smith River National Recreation Area. Forest headquarters are located in Eureka, California. There are local ranger district offices in Bridgeville, Gasquet, Orleans, and Willow Creek.Its old-growth forests include Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), Tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), and White Fir (Abies concolor).

The Klamath Knot

The Klamath Knot is a 1983 work of natural history and memoir written by David Rains Wallace.It is based on Wallace's many backpacking treks through the Klamath Mountains and specifically into the Siskiyou Wilderness. The book has become regionally appreciated as a "Klamath Cult Classic" because Wallace weaves the myth of giants with the mysterious quality of ancient forest evolution while accurately describing the region's unique natural history. The term "Klamath Knot" is now used synonymously with the Klamath Mountains of northwest California and southern Oregon, which is dissected by the Klamath River.

The Klamath Knot has been described as a "sleeper," a book that has had significant influence outside the "mainstream" of commercial publishing. Never a bestseller, it remains in print with University of California Press four decades after its original 1983 publication by Sierra Club Books (in collaboration with Yolla Bolly Press of Covelo, California), and has sold many thousands of copies. The San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune included it in their lists of the best books of 1983. It was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing and a Commonwealth Club Silver Medal for Literature in the Californiana Category, both in 1984. In 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle included The Klamath Knot in its list of the twentieth century's 100 best books published west of the Rockies.

One reason for the book's influence is that it was the first to vividly describe a major but hitherto neglected and exploited bioregion of global importance. In 1992, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature identified the Klamath Mountains as one of seven areas of global biological significance in the United States, and one of 200 worldwide. The New Hampshire sized Klamath/Siskiyou bioregion in northwest California and southwest Oregon rivals the Sierra Nevada and Cascades as a locus of biodiversity and wilderness values-- and it has qualities less typical of those areas-- major salmon rivers and vital indigenous communities. But nineteenth century writers like John Muir largely ignored it, and the era of national parks creation largely passed it by because of that neglect. Its only national park system unit is the small Oregon Caves National Monument.

An even worse effect of this neglect was that it remained unprotected from logging, mining, and dams, which caused considerable damage, particularly after WW II, when the U.S. Forest Service characterized it as "ordinary mountain country" and clear cut much of it. The region still contains nine important wilderness areas, however, and local resistance to exploitation has grown. The Klamath Knot has served as a locus for conservation activism in the region: one prominent activist, Lou Gold, who founded the Siskiyou Field Institute, said the book "informed" him about the region. Catherine Caufield cited the book's influence of Gold in a 1980s New Yorker piece on temperate old growth forest conservation. Since the book's publication, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and other organizations have acknowledged the Klamath/Siskiyou region's global significance, although attempts to place more of it in the national park system have met stubborn political resistance.

The book has been controversial at the national level. On its publication, two major scientists praised it. Botanist G. Ledyard Stebbins, a co-founder of the neo-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm, called it "A classic of natural history that will take its place alongside Walden and A Sand County Almanac." Zoologist George Schaller called it "a marvelous book, one of the finest nature essays I have read, beautifully written, full of stimulating ideas and insights." On the other hand, some readers found its synthesis of biology with folklore and philosophy disturbing. A March 20, 1983, review in the New York Times Book Review by then NYT reporter Clifford May manifested this view. While praising the book's natural history content, it accused Wallace of playing "fast and loose" with concepts like evolution and mythology "in a grab for cosmic significance" and of sinking "quickly and deeply into a mire of pretension" with "attempts to alchemize science into poetry." Most reviews were more favorable. The Atlantic Monthly

(February, 1983) wrote: "Mr. Wallace, rambling observantly about the area, has found functioning examples [of evolution] from all the earth's history, which he describes with authority, charm, and a discreet touch of imagination." The Wall Street Journal (2/14/83) wrote: "He is very persuasive and writes beautifully of the contrasting forest levels of these wildly tumbled mountains, from rain forest to snow forest and red rock... in the tradition of the lyrical, literary description naturalists..." The Washington Post (3/13/83) wrote that evolution "frees us, Wallace says, from the older notion that earth and man were created at the caprice of violent gods, and doomed to repeat that violence. Instead, we are part of an open-ended process-- from algae to man, by way of trees and millepedes, and back again."

Wallace has published three other books concerning Klamath/Siskiyou natural history and conservation, as well as many articles. His first book, The Dark Range: A Naturalist's Night Notebook (Sierra Club, 1978) is an exploration of nocturnal wildlife set in the Yolla Bolly/Middle Eel wilderness, the southernmost of the region's national forest wilderness areas. His fifth book, The Turquoise Dragon (Sierra Club, 1985) is an "eco-thriller" set in the region's Trinity Alps and Kalmiopsis wilderness areas, which explores issues like biodiversity and resource exploitation by inventing an endangered species as the focus of a murder mystery. One of his latest books, Articulate Earth (Backcountry Press, 2014) collects a number of articles published about the region during the past four decades in venues like Wilderness magazine, Backpacker, Mother Jones, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club calendar. From 1998 to 2009, Wallace worked as a writer-consultant on a documentary film about Klamath/Siskiyou natural history and conservation by Stephen Fisher Productions of Los Angeles.

Tim McKay

Timothy J. McKay (1947 – July 30, 2006) was an environmentalist and executive director of the non-profit Northcoast Environmental Center, a transportation advocacy organization, in Arcata, California.

Young Fire

The Young Fire was a wildfire in the Siskiyou Wilderness in California in the United States. The fire was reported on August 7, 2017. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. As of August 28, the fire had burned 2,650 acres (11 km2) and been added to the Eclipse Complex Fires. By September 1, the Young Fire entirely merged into the Oak Fire.

Climate data for Siskiyou National Wilderness
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 69
Average high °F (°C) 50
Average low °F (°C) 31
Record low °F (°C) 7
Average precipitation inches (mm) 9.16
Average snowfall inches (cm) 3.40
Source: [7]

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