Winding through this beautiful country are paved, well-maintained public roads that, with a few exceptions, are suitable for passengers, motor homes and rigs pulling traveler trailers. Each route provides a unique perspective of Trinity County from a visual, historic or cultural point of view.
The USDA Forest Service's Scenic Byways program was developed to provide alternative uses of National Forest while meeting the public demands for scenic driving tours on safe, well-maintained roads within or near the boundaries of National Forests. Trinity County currently has two Scenic Byways, the Trinity Scenic Byway which follows Highway 299, and the Siskiyou-Trinity Scenic Byway along Highway 3.
Highway 299 was designated the "Trinity Scenic Byway" in October, 1991. The Theme of the route, "From the Valley Oaks to the Redwood Coast" was chosen by the Forest Service to feature the wide variety of plant and animal life that exists in the various climates zones along the highway. The drive also features the cultural and historical aspects of the region, from the prehistoric native American tribes to the gold miners and timber workers of the 20th Century.
Highway 299 enters Trinity County from the east over Buckhorn Summit, then descends toward the Trinity River at Douglas City. It follows Weaver Creek to the historic town of Weaverville, then climbs Oregon Mountain with a vista of the La Grange Mine just past the summit. The highway rejoins the river at Junction City, and follows the beautiful Trinity River Gorge past dredger tailings of past-century mining and present-day river dredges.
Within easy walking distance of the highway you can fish for trophy salmon and steelhead, pan for gold, visit a historic ghost town, or camp with the spirits of the 49ers who came here during California's Gold Rush. Rafters and kayakers can enjoy stretches of Class 2 and 3 whitewater on the Pigeon Point Run, or the challenge of Class 5 and 6 whitewater through Burnt Ranch Gorge.
Pick up a self-guided driving tour brochure of Highway 299 at the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce visitor center, or at any of the Forest Service Ranger Stations.
The Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway follows Highway 3 south from Montague in Siskiyou County through the Scott River Valley and enters Trinity County over the Scott Mountain Summit, 55 miles north of Weaverville. This is the "Oregon-California Trade Route" and the theme reflects the trade and travel that took place between the Trinity River basin and the Oregon Trail.
Evidence has been discovered of trade between the Modoc and Wintu Indian tribes of the Mount Shasta and Modoc Lava Bed regions of northern California. Twenty five years before gold was discovered on the Trinity River, explorer Jedediah Smith drove a herd of 300 horses through the Hayfork Valley down Hayfork Creek to its confluence with the Trinity River, then on to the Klamath River and the Pacific Coast.
The Siskiyou-Trinity Scenic Byway features travel through the Trinity Alps to Trinity Lake, with a loop through the historic community of Lewiston before continuing on to Weaverville, then south through Hayfork to the end of the highway at its junction with Highway 36. At Douglas City, the highway passes near the site where Major Pearson B. Reading discovered gold, and a marker commemorates the event at the Douglas City Campground. The Trinity County Fair is held every August at the fairgrounds in Hayfork.
A side trip up Wildwood Road takes travelers to Bridge Gulch, a natural limestone bridge and the basis of a Wintu Legend. The Chanchelulla Wilderness area is also near the highway. The loop continues on to the community of Wildwood, loops west on Highway 36, then back to Hayfork on Highway 3. A driving-tour brochure is expected to be available by early summer at the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in Weaverville.
State Route 36 connects southern Trinity County with Interstate 5 at Red Bluff and the Redwood Coast Highway 101 near Fortuna. This scenic route follows the southern edge of Trinity County through one of the least-populated regions of California. Views from the highway include the Yolla Bolla Wilderness area, and the view of Red and Black Lassic Mountains from the summit of South Fork Mountain, the longest ridge on the American continent, is breathtaking. Tiny communities center around the general stores at Wildwood and at Mad River, where you can find gas pumps, a post office, a groceries, and even restaurants.
Ruth Lake, a few miles off the Highway at Mad River, has a full-service Marina, overnight lodging, restaurants and lakeside campgrounds.
The highway crosses several steams, including the South Fork of the Trinity River, the Mad and the Van Duzen Rivers.
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