Klamath Mountains

Klamath Mountains

The Klamath Mountains, sometimes called the Salmon Mountains, are a rugged lightly populated mountain range in northwest California and southwest Oregon in the United States. The highest peaks are Mount Eddy (9025 ft / 2750 m) in Siskiyou County, California, Thompson Peak (9002 ft / 2744 m) in Trinity County, California, and Mount Ashland (7,533 ft / 2296 m) in Jackson County, Oregon. They have a varied geology, with substantial areas of serpentine and marble, and a climate characterised by a moderately cold winters with very heavy snowfall, and warm very dry summers with limited rainfall. As a consequence of the geology, they have a unique flora, known as the Klamath-Siskiyou forests, which includes several endemic or near-endemic trees, such as Port Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), Foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana spp, balfourinana), Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana) and Kalmiopsis (Kalmiopsis leachiana), forming one of the largest collections of different conifers in the world. The northernmost range of the Klamath Mountains are known as the Siskiyou Mountains. The area is also home to a diverse array of wild fish and animal species, including nine species of salmonid, and bears, large cats, and eagles. Physiographically, they are a section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn are part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division.

Wilderness areas and national forests

The largest concentration of diverse coniferous species of trees exists in these mountains. Specifically in the Russian Wilderness, there are more species of coniferous tree in one location than anywhere else on the globe. Other official wilderness areas include the Trinity Alps Wilderness (second largest in California), the Siskiyou Wilderness, the Marble Mountain Wilderness, the Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, the Red Buttes Wilderness, and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. There are extensive hiking trail systems, recreation areas and campgrounds both primitive and developed, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes through these mountains as well. Several national forests converge in this region comprising millions of hectares of forest: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Siskiyou National Forest, Klamath National Forest, Six Rivers National Forest, and Mendocino National Forest.

Major rivers, lakes, and game fish species

Major rivers and lakes in the Klamath Mountains include the Eel River, Van Duzen River, Klamath River, Trinity River, Mad River, Smith River, Salmon River, Rogue River, Scott River and Castle Lake.

The many mountains, streams and rivers form a major spawning ground for several species of trout and salmon, yet recently, in the last 50 years, some of the fish stocks have fallen drastically, particularly salmon stocks. The ecoregion's rivers and streams are home to nine species of native salmonids. The depletions occur mainly because the creation of dams and excessive clear cut logging on the steep rugged slopes of the area both contribute to large amounts of silt in the stream beds, which in turn interferes with the salmon spawning, as they need exposed gravel beds in which to lay their eggs. Other notable fish species, besides king salmon and silver salmon, include steelhead, brown trout, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, eastern brook trout, crappie, bluegill, catfish, large and smallmouth bass.


The vast forested wildlands, coupled with a low rate of human settlement in the rugged remote terrain, makes for excellent habitat for a number of species. Mammal species include mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, lynx, raccoons, martens, fishers, beavers, grey fox, red fox, northern flying squirrel, and plentiful deer. Bird species include golden eagles, bald eagles, pileated woodpecker, band-tailed pigeon, several hawks including goshawks, several large owl species including the spotted owl, plus an extensive variety of additional species both plant and animal. The area used to have grizzly bear, wolves, and Roosevelt elk. The latter two are being considered for reintroduction, especially the less controversial elk. Some of the most remote areas hear rumors of bigfoot/sasquatch sightings from time to time, and the legendary creatures play a part in the native folk tales of the Native American populations.


The Klamath-Siskiyou forests are a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon. The ecoregion harbors rich biodiversity, with several distinct plant communities, including temperate rain forests, moist inland forests, oak forests and savannas, high elevation forests, and alpine grasslands. One of the principal plant communities in the Klamath Mountains is Mediterranean California Lower Montane Black Oak-Conifer Forest.Thirty conifer species inhabit the region, including seven endemic species, making the region one of the richest coniferous forest regions of the world in species diversity. The region also has several edaphic plant communities, adapted to specific soil types, notably serpentine outcrops.

Conifer species include Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii subsp. menziesii), Lawson's Cypress (also known as Port Orford Cedar, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana), Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), White Fir (Abies concolor subsp. lowiana), Red Fir (A. magnifica subsp. shastensis), Weeping Spruce (Picea breweriana), Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata), and Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia).

Typical species of the Trinity Alps region include Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, red fir, white fir, black oak, canyon live oak, Pacific madrone, bigleaf maple, California buckeye, incense cedar, and Jeffrey pine. California's northernmost stand of Digger Pine is found here along the South Fork of the Salmon River.

See also


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