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Old 07-20-2015, 08:50 PM   #1
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Cruising California: The Klamath Divide

Bigfoot exists. Or at least, that’s what the numerous signs and statues in nearly every town on the west side of Mount Shasta would have you believe. The thing is, riding through this untamed landscape of dormant volcanoes, rushing rivers, and towering Ponderosa pine makes the idea of a furry giant leaping out from behind a basalt boulder seem like a realpossibility. What was that shadowy figure over there in the woods?

It’s a long way to the isolated Klamath Mountains in upper north-central California, some two hours from Sacramento and the Bay Area. With rugged geography comes little development, so your base options consist of a few well-preserved ghost towns or logging hamlets. The upside is that you’ll have awesome roads and breathtaking scenery to yourself (though keep an eye out for logging trucks).

The first chance to sample scenic pavement is Highway 36 going west out of Red Bluff, and it’s a doozy. You’ll spend most of the day on a twisty road that rollercoasters for 140 miles, with few services and little cell reception. By the time you hit Fortuna, near the Pacific Ocean, you’ll welcome the rest break. For an equally twisted experience, head north to Redding , then turn west on Hwy 299, traveling 150 miles to Eureka. At the end of either of these routes, you can turn north onto Hwy 101 to Redwood National Park, and end your trip in the midst of some jaw-droppingly big trees.

Stock up on food and fuel in Redding, a medium-size town along I-5, or hold out another hour for mellow Mount Shasta, a quiet village at the base of its 14,162 foot namesake peak. Many folks believe this dormant volcano is packed with supernatural powers, and plenty of those spiritualists happen to make their home here,

What Shasta isn’t packed with is great eateries, though the divey Goat Tavern (107 Chestnut St) has a passable burger-and-beer combo and a deep rotating tap list. Or head north a bit to the logging town of Weed, and grab a photo of you and your bike with a Sasquatch statue. Indulge in a hearty breakfast at the Hi-Lo (88 S Weed Blvd), a friendly, retro-style cafe. If you’re staying the night, the Treehouse Best Western Plus (111 Morgan Way) in Mount Shasta offers comfy lodging, upscale meals and an inviting bar area. Might as well let yourself enjoy the surroundings.

You can also let GEICO Motorcycle Insurance take care of the other details on rides like this one. Surf over to for a comprehensive menu of coverages, all tailored to meet your specific needs—as well as your motorcycle’s.
Trip Tips:
  • For more volcano vistas, take Hwy 97 north out of Weed and cross the Oregon border. In 115 miles, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at Crater Lake.
  • Make a long day of it with a loop into the wilderness. Take I-5 north to Yreka, then find CA Hwy 96 west to Happy Camp. At Happy Camp, continue south on Hwy 96 to Willow Creek, then curl east on CA 299, back to Redding and I-5.
  • A shorter 2-hour loop can be found heading east from Redding, along Hwy 299. At Hwy 89, head north and pull over at dramatic McArthur Burney Falls to snap photos before returning to Mount Shasta.
  • Just south of Shasta is the old railroad town of Dunsmuir and nearby hike-friendly Castle Crags State Park. Plenty of accessible trails can be found around Mount Shasta, as well as Shasta Lake and Shasta Dam, further south.
Part of a 4 Part Series
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