The Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway was designated on March 31, 2003 because of its important historic, scenic, natural and recreational resources. The Byway connects to the Outback and Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byways in Oregon and California, and the Modoc and Shasta Volcanic Scenic Byways in California.
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, California. At Canby, the route turns northwest along State Hwy 139 to Tule Lake, where it connects 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 also includes a spur from US Hwy 395 along State Hwy 299 east to Cedarville, California where it connects with the existing Surprise Valley/Barrel Springs Back Country Byway.
Highlights and points of interest along the route are varied. In some locations actual remnants of emigrant trails can be seen. Geology includes high mountain peaks, canyons, farmland, lava flows from volcanic eruptions and wide open meadows. The breathtaking rock formations are unique to this area.
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.
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 state line are 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 to rock collecting
Wildlife and Recreation:Wildlife viewing at Goose Lake and along Highway 139 are plentiful where you can enjoy discovering traces of the emigrant trails. The byway route is part of the "Pacific Flyway" for migrating birds. In fact, 75% of the migrating waterfowl pass through the nearby Klamath Basin refuges.
Various Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management areas provide hundreds of miles of roads and trails for bikers, hikers and hunting, and in the winter snowmobilers and skiers can use the winter recreation parks. Visitors can choose from a variety of campgrounds or picnic areas, available on a first come, first serve basis.
For a list of the 67 points of interest, please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/modoc/recreation/emigrant-trails-sb.shtml