Flickr album link: Sarah Totten & Tree Of Heaven Campgrounds
California Highway 96 is better known as the Klamath River Highway and an entire summer vacation can definitely be planned around a trip down this scenic road. The Klamath River is fairly easy to access along this road and there are several campgrounds or lodges to choose from. A lot of old west gold rush history took place in these parts and there are many mines in the surrounding mountains. The river made industrialization possible back then and a few small communities sprouted up along the banks. A fairly large Chinese settlement played an important part in supporting the mining operations and some of their traditions still exist here in modern times.
After the age of mining played out in the early 1900s, some of the local folk realized the potential of this beautiful section of river becoming a premium vacation destination. Residents in the town of Hamburg, California soon constructed a few lodges and fishing camps, which attracted wealthy fly fishermen from around the globe. A local character named Sarah Totten managed the hotel, but this all only lasted till 1930 when she passed away. Sarah Totten donated the riverside property to the National Forest Service and this spot was eventually turned into a campground in her honor. All the old original buildings are long gone, but this developed campground is still a popular spot for fly fishermen. Basic facilities and picnic tables are located onsite at the Sarah Totten Campground, but there are only eight campsites available on a first come first serve basis.
Heading east from old Hamburg, the Klamath River Highway meanders past several great fly fishing spots, boat launches and river rafting staging areas. Watercraft rental vendors and river rafting excursion companies set up shop along the river during the summer season, so it is easy to join in on the fun. Group excursions are also popular and some of the local campgrounds can accommodate organized events.
The Tree Of Heaven Campground is once such attraction east of Hamburg, but accessing this spot is difficult because the access road is steep with sharp curves, so this is not a good spot for large vehicles. There are 20 campsites at Tree Of Heaven and some can be reserved. There are also cabins in this area that appeal to those who prefer the comforts of home. Basic facilities and picnic tables are located onsite and drinking water is available. The Klamath River is easy to get to from this spot, so this campground is a good choice for setting up a basecamp. How this campground got its name is an interesting story that has to do with the Chinese workers that once called this place home.
This part of the Klamath National Forest is a comfortable place to be from mid summer till autumn, but there are a few things to be aware of. Severe drought has plagued this area for several years and the summer wildfire season keeps getting worse. For this reason, it is best to obey current fire restrictions and do not strike a match. Keeping an ear out for wildfire reports is also recommended, since the conditions can change hourly. This mountainous region is good place to go wild berry picking, but this also means there are plenty of bears in the woods. Bear safe food storage is required and packing bear spray for the trails or while fishing is not a bad idea. Overall, wildfire safety is the number one concern, so be sure to check out what Smokey The Bear says upon arrival!
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