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Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway
Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway

Designated on March 31, 2003, the Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway is the newest addition to the Forest Service Scenic Byway system.

The scenic byway was designated because of its important historic, scenic, natural and recreational resources.

The Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway connects to the existing Outback and "Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byways in Oregon and California, and the Modoc and Shasta Volcanic Scenic Byways in California. The Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway would also serve as a connecting route for a future scenic byway to lake Tahoe, CA., effectively complementing the "Crater Lake to Lake Tahoe Scenic Byway".

The route starts in the northeast corner of Modoc County at New Pine Creek, where the Outback Scenic Byway ends. The route travels south down US Hwy 395 to Alturas and then heads west on State Hwy 299 to Canby, CA. At Canby, the route turns northwest along State Hwy 139 to Tulelake, where it will connect with the existing Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway and Shasta Volcanic Scenic Byway, which are part of the Volcanic Legacy All American Road. The Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway will also include a spur from US Hwy 395 along State Hwy 299 east to Cedarville, CA., where it will connect with the existing Surprise Valley/Barrel Springs Back Country Byway.

The Emigrant Trails Scenic route includes state and federal highways in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties, CA. Highways 395, 299, and 139 all lead to recreation designation areas. The roads are safe and open year-round.

Cultural history: The byway is rich in Native American, Euro-American, and Emigrant Trail history and culture. The Applegate and Lassen Trails descend into Goose Lake on a Bureau of land Management site, called "Descent into Goose Lake." The Byway travels in close proximity to the Applegate, Lassen and Burnett Emigrant Trails. The Euro-American contact period included early day explorers such as: Levi Scott who named Goose Lake from the numerous goose quills that he found; John Charles Fremont who had four expeditions to the west and played an important role in the Bear Flag revolt; Peter Skeen Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company; and General George Cook who was assigned to this area from the 1850s-1870 for conflicts between the U.S. Army and Native Americans.

Scenic: The scenery of Goose Lake from Highway 395, the Warner Mountains from Highway 395 and 299, and beautiful farm country along Highway 139 is significant.

Geology: The geologic and volcanic history of the Scenic Byway region is significant. The Warner Mountains to the east of Highway 395 are a short spur of the Cascade Mountain Range. The rocks exposed along Highway 395 from Alturas to the Oregon line and volcanic, mostly either black basalt lava flows or very light-colored rhyolitic volcanic ash. Hwy 299 east to Cedarville offers great views of the South Warner Wilderness. Rock collecting is one of the most popular activities in the region. The Warner Mountains have one of the most unique obsidian deposits in the United States, with four areas open for collection.

Recreation and Wildlife: Recreational opportunities are available on and near the byway. These opportunities include: wildlife viewing at Goose Lake and Forest Service sites along Highway 139, recreation in various Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management areas and enjoying discovering the traces of the emigrant trails in the area. The byway route is part of the "Pacific Flyway" for migrating birds and 75% of the migrating waterfowl pass through the nearby Klamath Basin refuges. The South Warner Wilderness contains many attractions and is close to the byway. Hundreds of miles of roads and trails await bikers and hikers in the byway area. in winter, snowmobilers and skiers use winter recreation parks along the Byway. Visitors can choose from a variety of campgrounds or picnic areas, available on a first come, first serve basis. The Scenic Byway area is a popular hunting area.

Connection to other Byways: The Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway includes portions of existing Forest Service Routes (Modoc and Shasta Volcanic Scenic Byways) and Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byway (Outback Scenic Byway) and All American Road (Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway). Likewise a Bureau of Land Management designated National Back Country Byway (Surprise Valley/Barrel Spring connects to the Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway.

 

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