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salmon river loop

100 miles

10k feet elev.

1-3 days

Spring-Fall

road/touring bike

Taking into consideration the many rides options, not just in our region but beyond, there are few rides that stand out as much as this one. When it comes time to plan a multi day trip, we usually choose to ride somewhere new. Why ride something twice when there is an abundance of new places to explore? Well, in our opinion this loop is worthy of repeating. Riding out here makes you wonder “how do more people not know about this place.” And at the risk of ruining it for everyone, we encourage you to see it for yourself.

Salmon spawning at the confluence of the north and south forks.

Salmon spawning at the confluence of the north and south forks.

My first exposure to this area was while living in Arcata and going to HSU. A buddy of mine who I rode bikes with was adamant I see this place before I graduated, and planned a bike tour over the fourth of July weekend (2009). It was hot, there was a lot of climbing, we rolled through the town of Forks where it seemed like everyone had descended from the mountains to party, it was amazing. Since that initial trip I try to get down there at minimum once a year, it is truly a special place filled with exceptional geology, hydrology, camping, hiking, solitude, and unique mountain folk.

What makes the riding stand out is that the route exists on a narrow (single lane at times) winding road that for many miles follows the river, undulating up and down but never far from it. Traffic is minimal, and in our experience alert, and courteous.

Swimming. There’s an abundance of swimming holes, amazing swimming holes. Some choose to ride this loop it in a day and forgo the plethora of swimming holes. It is a free world after all, let them have their glory, we will choose swimming.

Route finding is easy as there are few paved spur roads.

Route finding is easy as there are few paved spur roads.

This can be ridden in either direction and from multiple starting points. Food can be found in Etna, Cecilville, and Somes Bar (The Salmon River Outpost while slightly off route is well worth it). There are enough camping options to allow for a lackadaisical approach to planning your milage. Keep in mind that Etna summit is just shy of 6,000 ft. and snow can fall in late spring and early fall. Splitting this loop into three days will allow you to relax at camp, enjoy the riding and swim when you feel inclined.

Our ride that was cut short due to snow in mid October.

Our ride that was cut short due to snow in mid October.

Camping: There are numerous forest service campgrounds most of which are seasonal have minimal services. Check online or call ahead of time to find out if/when they’re open and what to expect.

Water: Some campgrounds have water but not reliably so you’ll want to have a filter with you.

Food: Etna is the biggest food source with a grocery store and multiple eateries, Cecilville has a saloon and lodging, Callahan has a bar/restaurant, and while 17 miles off route the Salmon River Outpost in Somes Bar is a great stop with healthy options, ice cream and libations.

Maps: Klamath National Forest Map, Six Rivers National Forest map