Cycle Scott River Valley this fall

The passing of summer sees the temperatures start to cool and a hint of fall adds crispness to the air. One of my favorite places to ride this time of year is just across the Oregon border in Northern California.

With a nice rural setting, little traffic and great scenery, the Scott River Valley is hard to beat for an early fall ride. The Marble Mountains loom to the west, the Scott Mountains are viewed to the east and Mount Shasta peeks over the lower hills to the east.

The Scott Valley ride entails 18.2 miles of climbing at an average one to two percent grade and 18.5 miles of descending, also at an average of one to two percent.

This 37-mile ride can be started in the town of Fort Jones, about a 15-minute drive southwest of Yreka on Highway 3. I like to park in the gravel parking area behind the Forest Service Ranger Station on the south end of town, at the intersection of Highway 3 and Scott River Road.

Ride northwest on the Scott River road, which passes through farmlands and hay fields. The first part of the ride takes you by the west sides of Chaparral and Quartz Hills, which will be on your left. The terrain is fairly flat to slightly downhill for the first seven miles.

At mile seven, turn left onto Quartz Valley Road where you will start a two to three percent grade which takes you uphill and around the west side of Quartz Hill. Stay on Quartz Valley Road where you start a downhill run, then pass through Mugginsville at mile 12.8 and then to Greenview at the intersection with Highway 3. Your odometer should read close to 16 miles at this point.

Turn right on Highway 3 and head south on a gradual one to two percent grade. The shoulders are wide and traffic is usually very light. At mile 22.2, Highway 3 takes a sharp bend to the left. At this point turn off the highway and go straight into the town of Etna. It's about a mile into town.

You shouldn't have trouble getting refueled in this quaint little town. For a town of such modest size, Etna seems blessed with more than its share of eateries.

When leaving Etna, get back on Highway 3, but head east to complete your circumnavigation of the Scott River Valley. About two miles out of Etna, turn left on Horn Lane and then after another 1.3 miles farther, turn left on Eastside Road.

Stay on Eastside road for 11.8 miles until you will come back to Highway 3. Turn right onto Highway 3 and in less than a mile you will be back to the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station.

Once you try this ride, enjoy the small community of Etna, travel through the rural farmlands of the Scott Valley and take in the mountainous views from the valley floor, you will return to ride it again. Have a great ride!

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.

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