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Scenic Viewpoints  •  Waterfalls

Why climb a mountain? Just because it's there? Nonsense. In Klamath, Lake, Modoc and Siskiyou Country, people climb mountains to soak in the unforgettable scenery. Dozens of vistas reveal the complex geography, biology and economy of the region.

Ask any number of local residents where their favorite viewpoint in the area is, and you'll get any number of answers. There are far too many to list in any single brochure. But after prolonged debate, a group of community leaders came up with a list of the best of the best viewpoints, and listed them here. Some can be reached only by walking or with four-wheel drive. But many are alongside highways or require only a short trip out of your way.

The Cascade volcanoes are the star attraction from any viewpoint along the West Coast. and 14,162-foot Mount Shasta is the king of them all in the central coast region. Its snowy crown can be seen from nearly any hilltop between Redding, CA, and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. While you're at it, see if you can pick out Lassen Peak, Mount McLoughlin, Mount Scott or the Three Sisters.

Wildlife, particularly waterfowl and raptors, are abundant throughout Klamath, Lake, Modoc and Siskiyou Country. Migratory waterfowl number in the millions during spring and fall months. Bald eagles are relatively easy to spot during later-winter months. For the best wildlife viewing begin your drive or hike just as dawn breaks.

You'll find fire lookout towers at some of the viewpoints listed here. During the summer season when the towers are occupied, visitors are welcome to climb to the top and look around. In the off-season, climbing on the towers is discouraged.

Viewpoints listed here are categorized according to accessibility by car, high-clearance vehicle or foot:
Guide to number codes:

  1. Accessible by passenger car.
  2. Accessible by high-clearance vehicle.
  3. Accessible by foot.
  4. Historical viewpoint.
  5. Drive-by view.
  6. Mountaintop view.

Places to Go

Location Map: Crater Lake National Park.

1. Crater Lake National Park

60 mi. N of Klamath Falls, OR on Hwy. 97 and 62.
Here are the world-renowned views you've seen on post cards and in magazines. Too many individual spots to mention. Many viewpoints accessible by wheelchair. Some are found at the end of hiking trails.
Code: 1,3,4,5,6
Information: Crater Lake National Park Service, (541) 594-2211.

Location Map: Pelican Butte

2. Pelican Butte

From Klamath Falls, OR, W 25 mi. on Hwy. 140 to Forest Service Rd. 3651, N 9 miles to spur no. 980, E 3 mi. to summit.
Summit offers breathtaking view of Upper Klamath Lake and Sky Lakes Wilderness. Old-growth timber lines the narrow, rough road to the top. About an hour's drive from Klamath Falls to the summit.
Code: 2,3,6
Information: Klamath Ranger District, (541) 885-3400.

Location Map: Calimus Butte

3. Calimus Butte

From Chiloquin, OR, E 5.5 on Sprague River Hwy., left on Williamson River Rd. for 11 mi., right on Forest Service Rd. 4542 for 2 mi., left on Rd. 4555, 1 mi. to summit.
Historic cupola-style lookout built by Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1920. Overlooks scene of 48-square-mile Lone Pine fire in 1992. Also, Klamath Marsh, Sprague River valley.
Code: 2,4,6
Information: Chiloquin Ranger District, (541) 783-4001.

Location Map: Herd Peak.

4. Herd Peak

From Macdoel, CA, S 17 mi. on Highway 97, W on Forest Service Rd. 45N22, follow signs for approximately 5 mi. to lookout.
A gravel road off Hwy. 97 leads to Herd Peak where a fire lookout is staffed during the summer months and is open to the public. The summit offers breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding area.
Code: 1,6
Information: Goosenest Ranger District, (530) 398-4391.

Location Map: Walker Mountain.

5. Walker Mountain

From Chemult, OR, 3 mi. N on Hwy 97, right on Forest Service Rd. 94 for 4.5 mi., left on Rd. 9402 for 3 mi. to summit.
On a clear day, view from fire lookout extends from Mt. Jefferson in central Oregon to Mount Shasta in northern California. Surrounded by a sea of forest land.
Code: 2,6
Information: Crescent Ranger District, (541) 433-2234.

Location Map: Hamaker Mountain.

6. Hamaker Mountain

From Keno, OR, 1 mi. W to Hamaker Mountain road, left for 13 mi. to summit.
Paved road provides easy access to the summit. Overlooks transition zone from Cascade Mountains to Klamath Basin. Watch out for snowplows in winter! No facilities.
Code: 1,6
Information: Bureau of Land Management, Klamath Resource Area (541) 883-6916.

Location Map: Hager Mountain.

7. Hager Mountain

From Silver Lake, OR, S on Forest Service Rd. 28 for 11 mi., left on Forest Service Rd. 036 for 4 mi. to top.
Fire lookout at summit offers view of Cascades to the west, Steens Mountain to the east. Overlooks Sycan Marsh. Alternate route to summit is on National Recreation Trail from Forest Service road 036. Inquire at Forest Service about renting the lookout for an overnight stay during winter.
Code: 2,3,6
Information: Silver Lake Ranger District, (541) 576-2107.

Location Map: Ouxkanee overlook.

8. Ouxkanee overlook

From Klamath Falls, OR, N. 32 mi. on Hwy 97, W. on Forest Service Rd. 9732 1 mi. to overlook.
A short drive off Highway 97 leads to a picnic area with stunning overlook of Williamson River valley and surrounding landscape. Scan the horizon as far as Mount Shasta in Northern California.
Code: 1,5
Information: Chiloquin Ranger District, (541) 783-4001.

Location Map: Lake Abert, Goose Lake.

9. Lake Abert, Goose Lake

Overlooks along Hwy. 395.
With no outlets, these lakes rise and fall with the changing climate.This valley attracts many nesting and migrating waterfowl. Abert Rim is longest fault escarpment in North America. Look for Applegate Trail crossing at Goose Lake.
Code: 1,4,5
Information: U.S. Forest Service (530) 233-5811 or (541) 947-3334.
Bureau of Land Management, Lakeview District, (541) 947-2177 or Alturas Resource Area, (530) 233-4666.

Location Map: Modoc National Wildlife Refuge.

10a. Modoc National Wildlife Refuge

From Alturas, CA, 1.5 mi. S on Hwy. 395 to large pullout on S side of Pit River.

10b. Devil's Garden

From Alturas, CA, 4 mi. W on Hwy. 299, N on Crowder Flat Rd. 1.5 mi. to top of hill.
Refuge is a stopover for nesting area for thousands of migratory birds.
Devil's Garden area is transition between forests and high desert.
Code: 1,5
Information: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (530) 233-3572.
Modoc National Forest, (530) 233-5811.

Location Map: Burney Overlook.

11. Burney Overlook

From Burney, Calif., W 7 mi. on Hwy 299 to pull-out.
Overlook offers view of Burney Basin and high desert to the east. Scenery dominated by ranches and meadows. Also in view is the 60,000-acre Fountain fire that burned in 1992.
Code: 1,5
Information: Burney Chamber of Commerce, (530) 335-2111.

Location Map: Newell Vista.

12. Newell Vista

From Newell, Calif., S 1 mi. on Hwy 139.
Two pull-outs along highway overlook scenes of skirmishes in the Modoc War. Geologic features include Horse Mountain to the northeast, the Peninsula and Petroglyph Rock to the west, and Lava Beds National Monument to the southwest. One mile north of vista look for monument identifying site of "American citizen" and Japanese internment camp.
Code: 1,4,5
Information: Lava Beds National Monument, (530) 667-8101.

Location Map: Fremont Point.

13. Fremont Point

Drive N on Hwy. 31 for 11 mi. Turn left at Government Harvey Pass sign post. Travel W on Forest Service Rd. 29 for 10 mi. to top of winter rim. Turn right on Forest Service Rd. 2901 and go for 15 mi. to Forest Service Rd. 2901-034. Turn left and drive 2-1/4 mi. to the parking area.
From the parking area, there is a trail that leads to the former cabin location and overlook. This historic site is located on the cliff face of one of Eastern Oregon's major fault blocks, Winter Ridge. Overlooking Summer Lake, the view is spectacular with the elevation at 7,135 feet above sea level.
Code: 2,3,4,6
Information: Silver Lake Ranger District, 541-576-2107.

Bonus Points

If you're looking for views that the average tourist never sees, here are a few ideas for scenic adventures that may take a little more time or present some unique challenges:

Scenic Viewpoints  •  Waterfalls

"Where are the falls?"

That's the first question asked by many visitors and newcomers to Klamath Falls. The query often meets with a blank expression from local residents who aren't sure how to respond. Depending on the time of year, that can be a tough question to answer.

The city of Klamath Falls was originally named Linkville after a short river that links two lakes on either side of the town. Community leaders decided in 1893 to change the city's name to Klamath Falls. Their idea was to "let the world know of our water power." The falls they had in mind were apparently a series of rapids in Link River, where waters from Upper Klamath Lake spilled over a natural reef that served as the lake's natural outlet.

A hydroelectric project built in 1921 significantly altered the Link River reef, virtually eliminating the rapids except during periods of high water. Today, a 1.3-mile hiking trail along Link River, maintained by Pacific Power, provides a pleasurable route for a nature hike.

Here you'll find more information on the Link River Trail, as well as directions to several other waterfalls in the area.

Places to Go

Location Map: Link River Trail.

Link River Trail

Take the Link River Trail to see where the Klamath Falls were located before a hydro power project was constructed on the Link River.

The Link River Trail, maintained by Pacific Power, is a popular spot among local residents for walking, jogging and wildlife viewing. Many species of water birds can be observed on the river, while the steep sagebrush-covered slopes beside the river serve as habitat for several songbird species.

Blackberry bushes and crabapple trees grow in abundance at the southern end of the trail. The gravel-surface trail is slightly over one mile long, and has a gentle grade. Free parking is provided at each end.

1. Crater Lake National Park

Location Map: Crater Lake National Park.

60 mi. N of Klamath Falls, OR, on Hwy. 97 and 62.
Look for Vidae Falls along East Rim Drive. Duwee Falls can be seen along the Godfrey Glen Trail. During the spring run-off, waterfalls are common throughout this world famous park.
Information: Crater Lake National Park, 541-594-2211.

Location Map: Salt Creek Falls.

2. Salt Creek Falls

5 mi. W of Willamette Pass summit on Hwy. 58.
Oregon's second highest waterfall plunges 286 feet from a basalt cliff along Salt Creek. A trail suitable for wheeled devices accesses an overlook of the falls. A longer trail leads to the foot of the roaring falls.
Information: Oakridge Ranger District, 541-782-2291.

Location Map: Pit River Falls.

3. Pit River Falls

From Fall River Mills, CA, W 2 mi. on Hwy. 299 to overlook.
The Pit River tumbles over a basalt cliff in a deeply cut canyon that offers a glimpse into Northern California's geologic history. The falls are in full view from this scenic pull-out along Highway 299.
Information: Bureau of Land Management, Alturas Resource Area, 530-233-4666.

Location Map: McArthur-Burney Falls.

4. McArthur-Burney Falls

From intersection of Hwys. 299 and 89, N 6 mi. on Hwy 89.
One of Northern California's most spectacular scenic splendors, the McArthur-Burney Falls are located in a state memorial park.
Information: McArthur- Burney Falls Memorial State Park, 530-335-2777.

Location Map: Mill Creek Falls.

5. Mill Creek Falls

From Likely, CA, E 14 mi. on Forest Service Rd. 64 to campground and falls.
A 1/8 mile hike from the Forest Service campground leads to Mill Creek Falls. The trail continues to the rugged South Warner Wilderness.
Information: Warner Mountain Ranger District, 530-279-6116.

Bonus Points

If your fascination with rushing water goes beyond the mildly curious, here are a few ideas for more demanding waterfall excursions: