Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District
The Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District includes most of the exciting and challenging Klamath River. It stretches from the Ash Creek Bridge to the Dillion Creek. Each year thousands of visitors come to camp, raft and float the river, hike the many trails and fish.
Happy Camp is a community of about 1,000 people and is located 70 miles west of Yreka, California, 104 miles south and west of Medford, Oregon, and 40 miles south of O'Brien, Oregon. The elevation 1080 feet. Year-round access is provided from Medford and Yreka via paved highway, Interstate 5 and State Highway 96. During the summer months (May-October), Happy Camp is accessible via 40 miles of paved road from O'Brien and Cave Junction, Oregon, located on Highway 199.
The local climate, generally mild, reflects these differences in conjunction with the areas proximity to the coast. In the canyons of the Klamath and Salmon Rivers, temperatures vary from 15 degrees in the winter to 105 degrees in the summer. Precipitation ranges from 50 to 115 inches with 93% occurring from October through April. The normal snow line is above 2,000 feet with heavy snows above 4,000 feet.
The topography is characterized by extremely steep, deeply eroded canyons with the Siskiyou Crest on the west and the Salmon Mountains on the east. Soils are relatively shallow and include decomposed granites, schists, heavy clay loams and serpentines.
Vegetative cover is abundant and varies with aspect and elevation. Douglas Fir intermingled with impressive stands of old growth predominate below 4,000 feet, as well as scattered ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and incense cedar. True firs predominate above 4,500 feet with a heavy understory composed of numerous hardwoods, mainly tan oak and madrone.
Recreational activities include hunting big game animals such as elk, blacktail deer and black bear and fishing for salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout. Other activities include local festivities, camping, hiking, rafting, and rock-hounding, and the annual "Big Foot" day held on Labor Day weekend.
Spectacular runs of Steelhead and Salmon making their way from the Pacific Ocean to spawning tributaries can be viewed during the fall and winter months.
There are also many fishing opportunities available. With miles of rivers and streams and regular stocking of the lakes in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, fishing for Rainbow and Eastern Brook trout can be very rewarding. Consult your local California Department of Fish & Game for current fishing regulations and restrictions.
One of our most visible and exciting-to-watch wildlife species, the fish-eating Osprey can readily be seen and heard perched, wheeling or diving for fish to bring home to nestlings waiting in their large snag-top nests. A distinctive medium-large hawk with black and white plumage, swept-back wings and a whistling cry, the Osprey, which nests in relative abundance along the Klamath and Salmon Rivers has become the symbol of the Klamath National Forest.
Other large birds commonly seen include the Great Blue Heron, which often nests near Ospreys along the Klamath River, the ubiquitous Turkey Vulture with its dihedral wings and habit of cleaning up road-kills, the Red-tailed Hawk, our most common large raptor, and the beautiful fish-diving duck, the Common Merganser which can be identified by its white wing patches visible in flight. Those who catch a glimpse of the majestic Bald Eagle or the see the savage fury of a Peregrine Falcon attacking its prey or enemies can consider themselves especially fortunate.
The communities of Happy Camp, Seiad, Hamburg, Horse Creek, Oak Knoll and Klamath River are the predominate residential areas of the District. Of these Happy Camp is the largest and is home to the Forest Service District Office.
A 3,000-foot asphalt runway and airport are available and suitable for small airplanes during daylight hours. The nearest regularly scheduled bus line is located in Yreka. Medical services are available in Happy Camp as well as a local ambulance service. Redding Medical's air ambulance will transport patients by air to Medford, Oregon, Redding, California.
Other facilities and services available in Happy Camp include automotive service and repair shops, restaurants, motels, river boat guide services, markets, hardware store, clothing store and various other businesses.
Happy Camp has an active arts program, a Chamber of Commerce, medical and dental clinic and small commercial district with automotive repair, restaurants, feed store, groceries, gift and antique shops. There are motels, RV parks, outfitters and guides, community park and campgrounds. The Karuk Tribe headquarters and tribal offices are located in Happy Camp.
The neighboring communities are also represented by a Chamber of Commerce:
Jefferson Chamber of Commerce - 496-3325; Serving Klamath River, Scott Bar, Horse Creek, Hamburg, Seiad Valley, Hilt, and Hornbrook.