Highway 299, the Trinity scenic byway
By Haven Livingston • Photos by Heather Heartgrave
The landscape along scenic Highway 299 between Redding and Arcata is a perfect example of treasure hidden in plain sight. Driving straight through this corridor that follows the Trinity River provides some inspiring scenery, but you have to stop and explore to truly strike it rich.
Diversions off Hwy 299 down to the river are an excellent way to escape the summer heat. Fishing, kayaking and rafting are popular options for both private and guided exploration. As the second largest sub-watershed of the Klamath River, the Trinity River has runs accessible to every type of river rat, from tube floaters to class V experts, and its waters are home to steelhead, salmon and brown trout. Detour up the North Fork to check out the ghost town of Helena and launch off rope swings hanging above North Fork pools.
Not far from the town of Burnt Ranch (Burnt Ranch Gorge is also a class V river run) is the turn off for those more favorable to vertical adventures. A 15-minute drive up a forest service road leads to the Trinity Aretes, a climbing area frequented by climbers from both ends of Hwy 299.
Those willing to make the short trip are rewarded with some of the best limestone sport climbing in California. The cliffs are comprised of single and double pitch routes with intermediate to advanced routes. Check the Big Foot Country Climbing guidebook for details. Show up ready to lead, as top-roping is not an option. Views from the top of even the single pitch areas are awesome as they look out across Burnt Ranch Gorge and into the Trinity Alps.
Camping along 299 is abundant both at established campgrounds like Pigeon Point (which is the put in for the classic 5.5 mile class III Pigeon Point river run) or, for those who practice leave no trace camping, up many of the side roads from 299. The nearby wildfire in July of this year is a stern reminder to heed local fire restrictions.
Heading west with an appetite? Stop at Raging Creek Pub in Willow Creek for a Raging Slush and a burger. Didn’t quite get all your energy out? Head a little further west and pick a bar fight at Simon Legrees, or better yet, just dance to live music until you’re boogied out.
For more information on the Trinity National Forest: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/stnf/about-forest.