California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 85

43

The Bigfoot
Scenic Byway
A scenic drive from Willow Creek to Yreka is a
great excuse to let your imagination run wild.

YREKA

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

California State Route 96 earned its name after two filmmakers
captured some unexpected footage near Bluff Creek. The infamous

THE SEIAD CAFE

Patterson-Gimlin tape, which some say documents a female Sasquatch
in action, sparked a still-simmering debate about the existence of the
mythic simian. Whether or not you're a Bigfoot believer, a leisurely

HAPPY CAMP

road trip through this primordial wilderness is sure to inspire magical
thinking. Twisting along bubbling rivers, evergreen gorges, gushing
waterfalls, and granite lakes, you'll never want this drive to end.
The scenic byway starts at the "Gateway to Bigfoot Country," Willow
Creek. The remote little town embraces its nickname as a certain hairy
hominid stands sentinel outside almost every establishment. Visit the
kitschy-cool Willow Creek-China Flat Museum to study Sasquatch
photos and supposed footprint casts. On the way out of town, grab
breakfast at the Bigfoot Steakhouse. The Bigfoot Stack (two pancakes
topped with two eggs) should fill you up nicely for the drive ahead.
Crossing over the Willow Creek Bridge, the deep green trees of
Six Rivers National Forest beckon northward. As you snake along the
Trinity River, you'll leave fences and front yards behind for massive

BLUFF CREEK
HISTORIC TRAIL

pines and fern-covered hillsides. Stop in the Hoopa Tribal Museum,
within the Hoopa Valley Reservation, to see more than 1,000 artifacts,

HOOPA TRIBAL
MUSEUM

including colorful baby baskets and dentenia shell capes.
At Weitchpec, you'll cross over the Klamath River and head slightly
east along its majestic flow. As you drive, look for signs for Bluff Creek

WILLOW CREEK

Historic Trail. The 1.25-mile uphill trek rewards with an achingly lovely
view of the forest (blue skies, green mountains, rocky riverbeds). Make
sure your camera is handy: You're in Patterson-Gimlin territory, after all,
and you never know what you might see.
Next, drive through Orleans, pulling over just before the suspension
bridge. Take a stroll across it to search for frolicking otters and running
steelhead. Continue on to Clear Creek where you can get an even
closer look. A popular swimming hole in the village center boasts a
PHOTOGRAPH: STEVE HOXIE

glassy surface, just begging for a cannonball.
A few miles north, park at the Wyman Gulch pull-out where
a roadside waterfall with a single stone bench makes for quiet
reflection. Continue on to Happy Camp-its half-dozen stores will

When you start to see backpackers, you're nearing the Pacific
Crest Trail. The Seiad Cafe, a PCT favorite, serves hearty sandwiches
and breakfast all day. If you can finish five "challenge-sized" pancakes
within two hours, your meal's on the house.
The final stretch of the byway offers little opportunity for stopping,
so just sit back and enjoy the canyon views, keeping your eyes peeled
for bald eagles. The farther east you get, the conifers become more
sparse, with reddish-brown hills providing a striking contrast to the
Klamath's deep blue.
If you time it right, when Route 96 hits I-5, the sun will be setting

feel like a bustling metropolis after hours of solitude. Treat yourself

with Mount Shasta as your backdrop. Once in Yreka, stop in for a pint

to a banana-bread latte in the Marble Mountain Gifts Co. and take

at Etna Brewery and Tap House, serving organic craft beer in a family-

a Sasquatch selfie next to the 12-foot-tall statue, made entirely of

friendly setting. Honor your wild ride with a toast to Sasquatch and an

scrap metal.

ice-cold Blackberry Blonde.

85



California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

Contents
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover2
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
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