Ready to head north, WAY north? Siskiyou County is at the California-Oregon border just north of Redding. Full of gorgeous mountain lakes, waterfalls and loads of activities for families (especially railfans!), it is truly the mountain paradise that will let you escape the busy Bay Area. Read on for all of our favorite things to do with kids in this area of Northern California!
1. Walk Under a Waterfall at Hedge Creek Falls
One of the main draws for this area of California is all the hiking, waterfalls and nature. Hedge Creek Falls in Dunsmuir is the perfect spot for kids of all ages. Just a short walk down a rocky path (leave the strollers in the car) will get you to Hedge Creek Falls where you can actually walk BEHIND the waterfall itself! Legend has it that former stagecoach robber Black Bart used the falls as a hideout!
Continue on past the falls for a short distance uphill and you'll reach a platform with scenic overlook of the Sacramento River and Mt. Shasta in the background. There are tons of spots along the way to stop for a picnic lunch or let the kids splash around in the creek so be prepared with a change of clothes.
2. Stay in a Train Caboose
No boring old hotel rooms here! Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir makes your overnight stay in Siskiyou County part of the adventure. Here you can choose from over two dozen vintage railcars that have been outfitted with beds, air conditioning, bathrooms, refrigerators and more. A number of family cabooses that sleep up to five are offered and all have access to the on-site swimming pool and nearby creek.
Even if you can't stay on-site, Railroad Park is worth a visit as you can dine at the dining car restaurant for breakfast or dinner. You'll get to feel like you are riding the rails without leaving the park!
In addition to vintage railcars, Railroad Park has cabins, RV sites and campsites for overnight guests.
3. Cast Your Line
Siskiyou County has loads of options for those who want to spend some time casting in the abundant waterways. Ted Fay's Fly Shop in downtown Dunsmuir can outfit you with all the gear you'll need and give you tips on the best river access points in town.
Insider's tip: A nice shady spot can be found off of Upper Soda Road in Dunsmuir. Look for the Chevron and watch for signs for water access points. Here you'll be able to set up a picnic lunch and watch the trains go by on the nearby tracks while you try and catch some dinner from the Sacramento River.
4. Go Spelunking in Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Beds National Monument is a must-visit spot when you bring the family to Siskiyou County. Here you can check out free flashlights from the visitor center and explore the many (VERY DARK) caves that were formed when lava flowed through the area thousands of years ago. For the youngest explorers, check out Mushpot Cave just a short walk from the visitor center. This is the only cave that has its own lighting in the tunnel.
Skull Cave (pictured above) is a popular choice because of its massive size. A good lighting source will be needed if you want to venture all the way down to the cave's ice floor (the flashlights from the visitor center can be pretty dim so you might want to bring your own).
Tips for Visiting: There's no restaurant at the park so bring in lunch with you when you visit. Remember that even though it might be in the 90s above ground that it will be very chilly when you head into the caves so long pants/long sleeves are recommended. And don't forget that fourth graders can get their family in free here with their Every Kid in a Park pass!
5. Step Back in Time with a Visit to McCloud
The quaint town of McCloud was once an old rail town and its candy shop and mercantile will give you a glimpse of days past. Swing by the Heritage Junction Museum across the street to learn about the town's long history. (Kids will get a kick out of the funhouse mirrors in the back.)
In McCloud you can hook up with the Great Shasta Rail Trail for a day of hiking or bike riding. This red cinder multi-use trail links McCloud and Burney with 40 miles currently open and more to come in the next five years.
Hungry during your McCloud visit? We recommend a stop at the Axe & Rose Public House for burgers, Bavarian pretzel sticks and wings.
6. Swim and Stay at Lake Siskiyou Resort
You'll feel like you are back in your summer camp days when you visit Lake Siskiyou Resort. Stop by for a day by the lake where you can spread out your beach towels on the sand and watch the kids play in the Splash Zone Waterpark. This inflatable wonderland has slides, trampoline and loads of other bouncy options that are sure to tire out the whole crew (parents included!). Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent.
Head down to the Bait & Brew shop to get outfitted for a day of fishing. They have gear, snacks and event boats to rent. The property also has a restaurant with arcade located right next door. Send the kids over with a handful of quarters while you wait for your pizza to cook.
The resort also offers cabins, RV spots and tent camping options if you want to stay overnight. The cabins are a great option for families as they have a full kitchen, deck and fire ring for s'mores.
7. Hike the McCloud Falls Trail
For the trifecta of waterfall beauty, head to McCloud Falls. Here you'll find the cleverly-named Lower, Middle and Upper falls, all connected by a 1.5-mile stretch of hiking paths. You can park at Middle Falls and walk a short path out to the viewing platforms before you head in either direction to check out the other falls. The paths can have steep drop offs so stay near the viewing platforms if you have little ones. The lot near Lower Falls gives you direct access to the water without too much trekking, so choose that option if you're looking to picnic by the side of the river.
8. Examine the Wonder of Petroglyph Point
Part of Lava Beds National Monument (but just outside the main entrance of the park), Petroglyph Point is an interesting place to stop and learn about the Modoc Indians that used to call this area their home. Here you'll find carved petroglyphs in the massive rock wall. Hike to the top to enjoy an impressive view of the basin and the Medicine Lake volcano.
9. Check Out All the Seasonal Events
There's no shortage of things to do when you visit Siskiyou County. Early summer bring Dunsmuir Railroad Days to the delight of railfans far and wide. Check out Discover Siskiyou's events page for all of the music festivals, outdoor adventure meet ups and more that are in store for the coming weeks. In late summer you can find rodeos, a lumberjack fiesta and the Siskiyou County Golden Fair.
This trip was paid for in part by Discover Siskiyou but all opinions expressed belong to the author.