Best Hikes in Klamath National Forest (CA)

Klamath National Forest Overview

Klamath National Forest is located in northern California on the border with Oregon. About 1.5% of the forest actually lies in Jackson County, Oregon. The forest includes five wilderness areas, Marble Mountain, Russian Wilderness Area, Trinity Alps, Red Buttes Wilderness Area and Siskiyou Wilderness Area. There are 200 miles of river system for rafting and 152 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the forest. The best hikes in Klamath National Forest are below but most of the best hiking here is backcountry off of established trails. This is a secluded area in northern California that will allow visitors a chance to soak in the mountain air.

StateCalifornia, Oregon
Nearest Metro AreaMedford, OR
Area Size1,737,774 acres
EstablishedMay 6, 1905
Hiking Trails545 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Klamath National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Klamath National Forest)

Canyon Creek Trail to Sky High Lakes and Marble Rim*** – 19.2 mile loop
Marble Ridge
Marble Ridge, Photo by Jeff P

Starting from Lover’s Camp, this trailhead provides access to several scenic hikes in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. The trail is pretty easy until it climbs to Marble Valley and Sky High Basin closer to the PCT. This loop will test hikers in distance and endurance but the serene landscape makes it well worth it.

Deacon Lee Trail to Russian Lake – 9.0 miles out and back
Russian Lake in the Russian Wilderness, Photo by Mkauffmann

The burned landscape on the 4+ miles from the trailhead opens up the sweeping views of the Russian Wilderness area that would otherwise be blocked by the forest. There is no access to Russian Lake from this trail so hikers will have to travel cross-country south from Waterdog Lake.

East Boulder Lake Trail – 3.8 miles out and back

An easy to moderate trail of 2 miles leads to this exceptional 32 acre lake. Access is suitable for family outings. The area is an open panoramic basin surrounded by rocky peaks. A nice cascading stream flows from East Boulder Creek, a quarter mile below the lake.

Long Gulch Lake Trail – 9.4 miles out and back / loop

This is a popular destination. The lake is around 3 miles up the moderately difficult trail. The trailhead is located between the Trail Gulch and Fish Lake Trailheads. The trail continues past the lake’s outlet to the ridgetop, then around to tie in with the Trail Gulch Trail, providing a very nice loop. Another loop possibility is to take the trail to the west about a quarter mile below the lake. This ties to the Fish Lake Creek Trail. It is recommended to park a car at each trailhead, if possible.

Taylor Lake Trail – 1.0 miles out and back

Half a mile of easy hiking reaches this popular lake at the north end of the Russian Wilderness. For more experienced hikers looking for a challenge, there is a 9 mile loop you can complete from the trailhead that visits several other lakes in the area including Big Blue Lake. The loop is not recognized by the Klamath National Forest so there is no established trail to get here; plan ahead.

Featured Image: Klamath National Forest, Photo by Tony Webster

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