Grayback Road

Grayback Road offers a unique opportunity to view a changing variety of tree species as you climb in elevation. Just after crossing the bridge at Indian Creek, set your odometer to zero, or watch for mile markers on this tour AND for the remaining sites up Grayback Road. Drive very carefully while searching for species.

Grayback Botanical Tree Tour:
Miles start at 0 (at bridge over Indian Creek 11 miles north of Happy Camp)

0.2 - Jeffrey Pine, Incense Cedar and fragrant California Laurel are prominent.

1.8 - The large California Madrone is noted for its smooth red bark and shiny green leaves.

2.0 - Sugar Pine has the largest cones of any pine in the world and can be seen below the road.

2.1 - Port Orford Cedar has characteristic weeping foliage and is visible near the water on both sides of the road.
2.3 - Ponderosa Pine has distinct contrasting dark brown and tan bark.

3.4 - Three Incense Cedars are below the road and have stringy red-colored bark.

4. - Look uphill for the twenty-foot-tall Pacific Yew with reddish green needles between the Cedar and Fir trees.

6.1 - The Brewers Spruce is unique to the area and is identifiable by it weeping foliage. In this location, several of these beautiful trees surround a large Sugar Pine.

7.3 - Notice the huge Douglas Fir that is dramatically leaning to one side. The base of this tree is at least 65 inches wide.

7.8 - White Fir with its fernlike foliage and Brewer Spruce dominate this area.

20. West Branch Campground: Mile marker 1.0 (after bridge)

  • After the Depression, the campground began as a CCC camp for crews who built the road over Grayback Mountain as part of a public works program to employ people. Later it evolved as a visitors' campground and fireguard station for large fire crews.
  • A maze of nature trails highlights this tranquil campground offering 15 campsites, potable water, barbecue grills and vault toilets.
  • A dirt road just northwest of the campground leads to FS Road 18N27 and Kelly Lake. This lake, located five miles west, is seven acres in size and 30 feet deep. It is seasonally stocked with trout and a favorite spot for locals.

One of many Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in the area.
Photo courtesy Brian Helsaple

21. Grayback Overlook: Mile marker 7.7

Grayback Summit
Photo courtesy US Forest Service, Yreka

Siskiyou Lewisa
Photo courtesy Dave Payne

22. Grayback Summit: Mile marker 8.9 California/Oregon Border: Mile marker 9.9

Tannen Lake
Primitive camping, short hike,
remote beauty.
Photo courtesy Rosie Bley
  • Tannen Lakes are smaller and accessible only by hike-in. The first, Tannen Lake, is eight acres in size and 28 feet deep. This lake is nearly a half-mile hike, offering remote beauty, fishing and primitive (no trace) camping. East Tannen Lake is an extra mile farther, five acres in size and 20 feet deep. (Grayback road to FS 4812, to FS 041; approximately 10 miles. Oregon fishing licence required.) Tannen Lakes and Mountain were named for Ezra Tanner, who had mining locations in the area during the 1800s. His descendants live in Happy Camp to this day.

This concludes our tour along the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway. You may continue to drive on to Highway 199 in Oregon without this guide, or return to Happy Camp and travel down the Klamath River on Highway 96 along the Bigfoot Scenic Byway through Orleans to Highway 299 and Eureka or Redding.

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