The South Kelsey Trail was first designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1979, but was used by early miners between 1855-1880 as a route between Crescent City and Fort Jones and other inland mines in the Klamath River region and Yreka. Along with the Old Kelsey Trail, the South Kelsey is a key portion of the Coast to Crest Trail route (and also the Bigfoot Trail) which connects the Coastal Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Read more on the Smith River Alliance website.
Over the past five years, the Bigfoot Trail Alliance, Siskiyou Mountain Club, and Del Norte Trail Alliance have all played major roles in rehabilitating this route. SMC has led several trips through the area logging out and brushing the trail. Joe Gillespe of the Del Norte Trail Alliance has coordinated and joined those trips as well as planned and executed work trips and spike-camps on the Kelsey Trail.
This October, the BFTA returned again. We focused our work this trip between Baldy Peak and Harrington Mountain — some of the most difficult and remote trail to access in the region.
In 2021, the Bigfoot Trail Alliance received a Rose Foundation grant to fund work on the Kelsey Trail. We recruited 8 graduate CCC Backcountry Corpsmembers through a letter writing campaign. Once the letters were received, we sent letters back to the corpsmembers notifying them that they had been accepted into the program. What an amazing group of young adults! The crew was lead and supported by Dennis Houghton, Petr Fleischmann, Michael Kauffmann, Laura Chapman, Aaron Babcock, and Terri Vroman-Little. Learn more about their stories in the video below.
Work highlights include:
- 30+ logs removed
- 2+ miles of treadwork
- 2+ miles of brush removal
- Cairn construction (in a burned area that is difficult to work right now)
Everyone who had not been to the Siskiyou Wilderness fell in love with the area and vowed to some day return and re-hike the Kelsey Trail!
Mary Kwart says
Good to see this difficult section of the Bigfoot Trail has been improved. It was a tough one. When I saw the Kelsey Trail historical interpretive sign in 2015 during my hike I was sad it hadn’t been maintained.
Andrew Harkness says
This is beautiful! Thank you all so much for the work you do and I honor the deep sincerity and love that emanates from your stories. The renewed possibility of walking these trails is a gift to all people who are able. I can only offer my humble gratitude in return and a promise to one day walk this section and appreciate your part in the splendor. Many, many thanks and happy trails…
Jimi Logsdon says
I like the others before me send my gratitude for the work you do and have done on the back country trails. The sense of peace that one encounters in these remote treasures forever stays in your heart. Thank you all again a fellow Bigfoot hiker.
Chris Valle-Riestra says
Thank you, everyone! The most neglected segment of the trail is neglected no more.
Phil McNeal says
Thank you so much for keeping the Kelsey Trail alive! I first worked on it in 1989 for the US Forest Service. I am also a CCC Backountry Alumni 1985 Trinity Inyo,1997 Klamath Trinity,1998 kings Canyon, 2002 Klamath Trinity. The CCC Backcountry Program is definitely life changing and one of the best trail programs in the country!!! Again, thank you so much for all of your hard work!!!
Chris Valle-Riestra says
Hello, Phil, great to hear you weighing in. I have fond memories of trips with Pat Garrahan. I have been doing considerable volunteer work with the Orleans-Ukonom-Lower Trinity R.D. in recent years, and got to join a previous project on the South Kelsey Tr. going up Baldy.