Klamath County's trails are more than just pathways; they're immersive experiences that showcase the region's diverse landscapes and rich history. Each offers a unique perspective on the area's natural wonders, from underground caves to serene water trails. As you embark on these trails, you'll discover breathtaking scenery and the stories and legends shaping this remarkable region. Pick the path less traveled, or choose one of the nation’s most legendary trails: no matter where you begin, Klamath’s variety of trails will surely put you on a path to discovery.
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is one of America's longest scenic trails, spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. In Klamath County, the PCT runs almost its entire length, offering a cross-section of the region's outstanding lakes and wilderness areas, particularly the Sky Lakes area. As you traverse this trail, you'll experience a unique blend of natural beauty, with the iconic Crater Lake National Park being a significant stop-over point for through-travelers. The trail meanders through diverse terrains, from dense forests to open meadows and pristine lakes. Before embarking on a hike, it's essential to check the trail conditions, be aware of the weather forecast, and ensure you have the necessary supplies.
Nestled just 15 miles from Klamath Falls, the Spence Mountain project is a beacon of outdoor recreation and one of Oregon’s top mountain biking networks. Spanning a vast 7,400-acre expanse, it's not just the sheer size but the diversity of trails that makes Spence Mountain a sought-after destination. Whether you're a mountain biker seeking adrenaline-pumping trails, a hiker wanting to immerse in nature, a trail runner chasing the horizon, or someone looking to indulge in cross-country skiing or snowshoeing during the frosty months, Spence Mountain has got you covered.
The trail system's design and development have seen significant contributions from Terra Velo and Dirt Mechanics, ensuring trails that cater to all skill levels and interests. The recent addition of the Red Rover trail, a unique walking, and stroller-friendly loop, offers a relaxed 1-mile journey, ensuring minimal interaction with the more intense trails. It's perfect for families or those seeking a serene nature walk. In contrast, the Speed King trail is a biker's dream. This flow trail, designed for the adventurous, is packed with jumps and berms and offers a thrilling downhill experience.
In collaboration with the Klamath Trail Alliance, the networks at Spence Mountain are continually evolving, ensuring that they remain some of Oregon's best MTB destinations. So, gear up and discover the multifaceted beauty of Spence Mountain, where every trail is an adventure waiting to be explored.
Crater Lake National Park, a gem of the Pacific Northwest, offers more than just its iconic blue waters. The park provides a range of hiking experiences that showcase its diverse beauty. The Cleetwood Cove trail, a 2.2-mile round trip, is the only route that descends to the lake's shore. While it's a steep journey, its unique perspective and the opportunity for a refreshing swim or a boat tour departure make it a must-visit. For a panoramic view, the Mount Scott trail is a challenging 4.4-mile round trip that rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas from Klamath County's highest peak. As you ascend, the trail meanders through old-growth forests and vibrant meadows.
For wildflower enthusiasts, the park is home to trails like the Plaikni Falls Trail and the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail, both renowned for their floral displays. The former leads hikers to a waterfall fed by snowmelt, surrounded by stunning wildflowers. At the same time, the latter is a spring-fed meadow trail that showcases the region's diverse flora. Beyond these, Crater Lake offers numerous other trails that lead to waterfalls, wildflower meadows, and other natural wonders, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.
Mountain Lakes & Sky Lakes
Klamath County's wilderness areas are a testament to the region's untouched beauty and diverse landscapes. These pristine regions, free from motorized travel and wheels, offer a serene escape into nature, where the only sounds are the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the gentle flow of streams.
The ancient volcanic landscape of the Mountain Lakes Wilderness Area is a beacon for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The area, characterized by its unique geology, is home to numerous lakes amid rugged terrains. Trails here wind through dense forests, past shimmering lakes, and up challenging ascents, offering panoramic views that stretch for miles. The area's geology is a story of volcanic eruptions and millennia of erosion, creating a dramatic and serene landscape.
The Sky Lakes Wilderness is a mosaic of pristine lakes, dense forests, and alpine meadows stretching across the southern Cascade Range. With over 200 pools of water, it's no wonder the area is named Sky Lakes. Each large or small lake offers a unique setting, from secluded coves to vast expanses of crystal-clear water. The trails here are as diverse as the lakes themselves. Cold Springs Trail, for instance, takes hikers on a journey through scenic lakes and dense forests, while the Nannie Creek Trail offers glimpses of serene waters like Puck Lake. The wilderness is also home to some of the purest waters in the world, making it a haven for flora and fauna.
Day trips and extended backpacking adventures are available for those who want to immerse themselves in the wilderness. The trails cater to all levels of hikers, from the novice looking for a stroll to the seasoned trekker seeking their next challenge. As you venture deeper into the wilderness, you'll find it's not just about the destination but the journey itself. Every twist and turn of the trail, every shimmering lake, and every panoramic vista tell a story of nature's grandeur. Being prepared is essential when embarking on an adventure in these wilderness areas. The untouched beauty of these regions also means that amenities are limited. Ensure you have adequate supplies, respect the sanctity of the wilderness, and always practice the principles of Leave No Trace.
Moore Mountain, easily accessible from downtown Klamath Falls, is another gem for outdoor enthusiasts in Klamath. This trail network is popular among hikers, cyclists, and runners. Dedicated bikers have meticulously developed and enhanced the trails, offering a mix of terrains and vegetation. One of Moore Mountain's standout features is its breathtaking views of Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath Basin. The trails vary in difficulty, catering to both novices and seasoned adventurers. The Klamath Trails Alliance, in collaboration with the City of Klamath Falls, has been instrumental in developing a Moore Park master plan, which serves as a roadmap for trail improvements. Recent projects include the creation of the Sawmill trail that leads down to the Link River and enhancements to the signage in the park's western section
Klamath Basin Birding Trails
The Klamath Basin, a jewel of the Pacific Flyway, offers a harmonious blend of birdwatching and hiking. It is a premier birding destination with over 350 bird species gracing its diverse habitats, from marshlands to forests. The Klamath Basin Birding Trail, a network of roads, paths, and habitats with over 40 sites and 300 miles of trails, are meticulously crafted to provide optimal wildlife viewing and delightful hiking experiences. Explore highlights including:
Link River Trail: Situated just a short walk from downtown Klamath Falls, the Link River Trail offers a unique blend of natural beauty and bird-watching opportunities. This one-and-a-half-mile trail runs alongside the Link River, nestled in a cut canyon that forms a natural corridor between Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. The trail's location is scenic and perfect for wildlife spotting, serving as a vital passageway for various bird species.
Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Trails: These refuges are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and hikers alike. The walking trails at Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges offer unparalleled opportunities for birdwatching and gateways to exploring the rich ecosystems of these protected areas. These trails are thoughtfully designed to provide an immersive experience, allowing visitors to tread softly through varied habitats, from marshlands to grassy expanses. Elevated walkways and ground-level paths offer different perspectives of the landscape, enhancing the connection with nature.
Whether you're a seasoned birder with a keen eye or a hiking enthusiast looking to explore new terrains, the Klamath Basin Birding Trails promise an experience like no other. Want to learn more about birdwatching on Klamath trails? Check out our introduction to birding to find out why Klamath is such a special place to enjoy wildlife
Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Beds National Monument, situated about 30 miles south of Klamath Falls, is a treasure trove for cave enthusiasts and history buffs. While the monument's historical ties to the native Modoc people are profound, the sprawling network of over 800 lava-tube caves truly captivates visitors. These subterranean wonders, unique in their formation and features, stand as a testament to the region's volcanic past. The complexity of some of these caves is awe-inspiring, with winding passages, multi-tiered chambers, and geological marvels that tell tales of ancient eruptions.
The beauty of Lava Beds is that it caters to all - from novices taking their first steps into the world of caving to seasoned spelunkers seeking their next challenge. Captain Jack’s Stronghold is a perfect place to start for those who prefer to stay on the surface. The site of the end of the Modoc War, Captain Jack’s is home to 1.5 miles of family-friendly trails, great for exploring and familiarizing yourself with the history of the Modoc War and the region as a whole.
If you’re up for a little bit of an adventure on a subterranean trail, try Sentinel Cave, one of the few thru-caves in the monument. Sentinel Cave offers explorers the unique opportunity to traverse from one end to another. Whether you begin at the Upper or Lower Sentinel Cave markers, the journey is replete with geological wonders narrating the region's volcanic history. Looking for a little more caving challenge? Catacombs Cave offers experienced spelunkers the opportunity to navigate an intricate maze of passages and chambers. Its multi-tiered structure, coupled with numerous offshoots, demands careful navigation: a map is a must to safely navigate the cave. Keen to explore more? Check out our guide to the best caves at the Lava Beds to find your perfect underground path.
The allure of the caves is undeniable, but safety should always be at the forefront. The monument emphasizes the importance of preparedness. A complimentary Caving Permit is mandatory for all explorers. Additionally, it's crucial to venture in groups, equip oneself with multiple light sources, and don the proper protective gear. The caves beckon, but they also demand respect and caution.
OC&E Woods Line
The OC&E Woods Line State Trail, Oregon's longest linear park at 100 miles, blends the state's rich history and natural beauty. Constructed on the historic railbed of the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad (OC&E), it's open year-round for non-motorized recreation.
Beginning in Klamath Falls, the Urban Section is paved and popular among joggers, walkers, and bikers. It offers panoramic views of the majestic Mt. Shasta and winds through picturesque farmland, culminating at Olene. As adventurers progress, the trail transforms, presenting the gravelly Gateway Section adorned with juniper and sagebrush. Further ahead, the Sprague River Section showcases the beauty of timberlands and the serene Sprague River. The trail's final stretch, the Woods Line Section, north of Beatty, plunges visitors into dense, aromatic forests with crossings over the tranquil Five Mile Creek.
For those keen on exploring this trail, it's crucial to be prepared, especially with water, as it lacks drinking facilities. Learn more about Oregon State Parks and be sure to check current conditions with the park before embarking.
With its expansive landscapes, the Klamath region becomes a focal point for winter enthusiasts each year. The area seamlessly blends thrilling activities with tranquil nature experiences, ensuring a well-rounded winter adventure for all.
For snowmobiling enthusiasts, the region is dotted with hundreds of miles of groomed trails, each offering a unique experience as riders traverse the snowy terrains, feeling the rush of the cold wind against their faces. The Willamette Pass Ski Area, nestled near the crest of the Cascade Range, stands out not only for its 30 trails spanning 550 acres and an impressive annual snowfall of 430 inches but also for its affordability. Especially when compared to other ski hills in Oregon and Northern California, Willamette Pass offers exceptional value, ensuring every descent down its snow-covered slopes is both thrilling and wallet-friendly.
Klamath boasts several Sno-parks, each serving as an ideal starting point for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing adventures. The Summit Sno-Park, situated just 45 minutes west of Klamath Falls off Highway 140, is a top pick for winter recreationists. Positioned just east of the Klamath-Jackson County line, it promises a quintessential High Cascade experience. Another notable spot is the Annie Creek Sno-Park, located near the boundary of the iconic Crater Lake National Park. Eager to delve deeper into Klamath's snow sports? Don't miss our comprehensive guide to the best winter recreation in the area.
The Upper Klamath Canoe Trail
Perhaps hiking and biking trails are on your list, but have you ever seen a canoe trail? The Upper Klamath Canoe Trail, located in the northwestern portion of Klamath Lake, offers paddlers a chance to delve into the region's ecological diversity. Spanning 9.5 miles, this water trail is segmented into distinct pathways, including Recreation Creek, Crystal Creek, Wocus Cut, and Malone Springs.
Starting your adventure from the Rocky Point or Malone Springs boat launches, you'll be greeted by clear, spring-fed waters and various ecosystems teeming with wildlife. As you navigate the different segments, you'll encounter a diverse range of bird species, underscoring the Klamath Basin's reputation as a prime birdwatching location.
The trail is suitable for both seasoned kayakers and novices. If you don't have your own equipment, Rocky Point Resort offers rentals right on the water for a DIY adventure. Alternatively, if you're looking for a more structured experience, guided outfitters are available in the region. For a list of these services, check out our experience partners page. When embarking on your journey, ensure you're well-prepared, stay informed about weather conditions, and adhere to park guidelines. Enjoy your time on the water!
Embrace the full Klamath experience by combining the scenic trails with a variety of other outdoor activities. Picture a day that starts with a refreshing hike, leads to an afternoon kayaking on crystal-clear waters, and concludes with a tranquil evening by a lakeside campfire. Our "Top 10 Outdoor Adventures in Klamath" article is your perfect companion to expand your exploration, offering everything from exhilarating mountain biking to serene birdwatching. Dive into this guide to seamlessly blend your hiking adventures with Klamath's diverse array of natural wonders, ensuring a rich and unforgettable outdoor experience.