Tree of Heaven Campground and Nature Trail
Thought for today: Philippians 4:8 ..Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things..
Disclaimer: There is no assurance that any resource or activity I've found or described will be as 'accessible' as you might need. Information or links may be out of date. Use the information at your own risk and be sure to check with your health care professional for exercise advice.
I have very fond memories of the Klamath River region. When newly married (way back when) we lived in Seiad and my spouse worked in Happy Camp. I experienced my first wildfire and my first major flood event while we were living there. I also had a great time with the various craft classes Happy Camp folks put on, like pottery, tailoring and quilting (really the best we ever found). It's always been a great region for self-sufficient and very creative people.
Driving north out of Yreka, along the old highway (263), you'll find some spectacular rocky spires. Turn west on Highway 96 to go down the Klamath River Highway.
Finding wheelchair and rollator-friendly venues along the Klamath River isn't easy. How suitable locations are will depend entirely upon your mobility gear and previous camping experience. In general, I'd say expect to be pleased. Tree of Heaven Campground is situated on the Klamath River off Highway 96, about 12 miles from Yreka. Or about 7 miles from I-5.
Note: Tree of Heaven curve is also noted for fatal car accidents during bad weather, (people taking the turn too fast and sailing off the heights) so do NOT underestimate the weather or drive too fast on this highway!
As part of Klamath National Forest, Tree of Heaven (a fee campground) is identified as a disability-friendly with wheelchair accessible parking, restrooms and camping spots. It also happens to be very pretty. The USFS says: 'Some campsites are accessible to wheelchairs with assistance. There is a concrete ramp to the river. Some tables and restrooms will accommodate wheelchairs with assistance.' What they mean is that the paving is intermittent and much of the campground areas are natural soils, and the tables are wood. That means more physical work for you to roll around but also a more natural, less developed camping experience.
A different description says the campground itself is fairly flat. It is described as a nice campground for RV's, tents, trailers, but large motor homes (Class C) may find it unsuitable as the maximum spur is 34 feet. The river access is a concrete ramp.
During the spring and early summer months this campground is popular with rafters and kayakers as a 'put-in' location to run the downstram rapids to Gottville. It certainly is an appealing camp with easy access to the river as well as easy access back to Yreka. It's really a fine place for a person who uses a wheelchair to experience camping along a river.
Watch Tree of Heaven Campground Kayakers
Downstream the Gottville River Access has a sandy road and a concrete ADA accessible side walk to the water's edge. There is a ADA accessible restroom, parking area and dispersed camping area. Gottville and the Tree of Heaven Campground are the only two disability-friendly locations identified by the USFS for 'accessible' recreation along highway 96.
Tree of Heaven has a rather nice .25 mile paved nature trail that begins at the campground area and winds along the riparian habitat of the Klamath River. The paving is worn, but passable. The trail width is acceptable for a wheelchair. If you are using a rolling walker with 8 inch wheels you may experience difficulties, so go slow. A wheelchiar with an added Freewheel adaptor would do very well, here. There are interpretive signs that cover bird identification, adaptations, habitat selection and fire ecology. The river is not actually visible from the trail. Bring your camera, birding list and binoculars.
I was pleased with both the camping location and the nature trail (which I strolled easily with my all-terrain WalknChair, Big Red.) I managed to get a pretty good photo of a Northern/Western Flicker, which is a type of woodpecker. Quick little birds!
For others wheelchair accessible recreation opportunities, contact the Klamath National Forest in Yreka, as their list of Accessible Recreation Opportunities is not posted online in 2017.
While there are only a few wheelchair accessible and barrier-free camping opportunities along the Klamath River, it's a gorgeous area and you can always take a 'scenic drive'. Afterall, don't you want to visit the historic and mildy notorious downriver community of Happy Camp? It's worth the drive!
if you don't have suitable mobility devices, a Scenic Byway drive is still a terrific option. The Klamath River is one of the famous salmon rivers in the state. While you are unlikely to be there during a salmon run, going downriver (or upriver) is well worth anyone's travel time. The area around Yreka is quite dry but as you travel west (downriver), the trees get bigger and the climate more moist.
Two scenic byways include portions of Highway 96.
The State of Jefferson Scenic Byway also follows Hwy 96 from Pioneer Bridge to Happy Camp and then over Greyback Road to O'Brien in Oregon at US Hwy 199.
As always, remember that drives along WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS are in fairly remote geographic areas and you need to plan your trip accordingly. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times as the next town may be quite far away in terms of actual driving time. Do not assume the next small community will have an open gas station.
Carry extra supplies like food, water, snacks, your cell phone (though cell service may be scarce). Medical assistance is also far, far away. Please exercise caution and practice safety. You do not always get that second chance to correct a mistake.
Your best bet for paper maps is at the Klamath National Forest office in Yreka. You can also check for road closures, wildfire information and any changes in forest activities. Do not attempt to simply 'go around' road closures as roadways frequently become impassible and your detour could become a disaster. Stick with the main routes and you'll have a wonderful trip.
*There are lots (and lots, and lots) of places yet to be reviewed for wheelchair accessibility and I am unlikely to get to them all. So that others may find some new places, I've compiled a draft list of locations that may be wheelchair accessible. These are POSSIBILITIES, no certainties. Some places may be complete duds. ATTENTION: this is a ROUGH draft list - mostly for my own use, so if you use this draft list, lower your expectations and do your homework! DRAFT SISKIYOU COUNTY ACCESSIBLE RECREATION LIST