4 Adrenaline-Pumping Adventures In and Around Klamath County

When it comes to recreation, the term “ecologically diverse” is music to the ears of those that enjoy a good outdoor-induced adrenaline boost. With lush forests and lofty peaks comes endless opportunities for adventure. And the Klamath Basin just so happens to be home to one of the most impressive collections of diversified terrain found anywhere. We’re talking wetlands, marshes, lakes, rivers, caves, high deserts, mountains, and wilderness forests. And that’s not even getting into the lunar-like volcanic landscapes.

It’s this diversity, along with 300-plus days of sunshine each year, that makes the Klamath Basin an outdoor adventure paradise. In addition to hiking, hunting, fishing, and much more, here are just four of the more adrenaline-inducing warm-weather adventures that the region is known for.

Ziplining

The attributes that make a great zipline experience might vary slightly from person to person, but there’s generally a consensus on a few things you’ve got to have: a true forest canopy immersion, awe-inspiring views, long ziplines, and perhaps above all else the opportunity to remain up in the trees for the entire outing.

Well, the fine folks at Crater Lake ZipLine offer the second longest ziplines in Oregon, the only zipline canopy tour on National Forest land in the country, along with views of Mt McLoughlin, Upper Klamath Lake, and the surrounding Cascade Range. Their nine ziplines soar at heights of up to 100 feet in the trees. And once you’re up there, you’re up there for the duration of the experience. Zip from platform to platform, traverse two sky bridges, and enjoy two controlled rappels. State-of-the-art equipment and knowledgeable guides ensure a safe, informative, and entertaining outing. And no worries if you’re new to zipping—all tours start with Ground School where the guides go over everything you need to know, and you get the opportunity to practice maneuvering and zipping at ground level.

Mountain Biking

Flowing through the 50-plus miles of prime singletrack at Spence Mountain. – Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau

Another tried and true method for attaining an elevated heart rate is mountain biking. And just like paddling, there are options for absolutely all skill and risk levels. The Klamath Falls area is home to over 80 miles of trail alone.

In town, an outstanding, well-signed 17-mile network of trails for all levels traverses every corner of Moore Mountain. Rushing through Ponderosa pines and delivering sweeping views of the basin and Upper Klamath Lake, it is a boon for area bikers, as well as hikers. Bear in mind that it can be a bit muddy in wet weather though.

Just 15 miles from downtown, Spence Mountain provides an additional 50-plus miles of prime, well-maintained singletrack spread out over 7,400 acres that rise directly above the banks of Upper Klamath Lake. Again, trails for all skillsets abound through open meadows, tight treelined descents, and contoured rock gardens.

The 14-miles of singletrack that circumnavigate Brown Mountain, meanwhile, explore a geological grabbag of mountain biking delights. Ride through old-growth firs as well as ancient lava flows. Check out views of not-so-distant Cascade Mountain peaks or add in some easier, well-traveled routes on the connecting trails around the neighboring Lake of the Woods area.

Whitewater Rafting & Paddling

The Upper Klamath River boasts some of the best whitewater rafting in Oregon. – Bureau of Land Management Oregon & Washington

In Klamath County, there’s an exquisite array of options in the region for those looking to enjoy a tranquil flatwater paddle: Spring Creek, Upper Klamath Lake, and Malone Springs to name a few. However, when it comes to perhaps one of the greatest adrenaline-fueled activities for all levels and abilities, whitewater rafting and kayaking easily rank near the top. And the Klamath River is a supreme waterway for such endeavors.

The name “Klamath” actually means swiftness in Chinookan. The eponymous federally protected Wild and Scenic Klamath River begins in Klamath Falls. It then carves a winding path through the ancient lava flows of the Cascade Range and the imposing granite of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains before exploring the verdant Coast Range of Northern California. And that swiftness is evident, particularly in the upper section of the river where more than 30 rapids ranging from Class III to IV+ give paddlers all they can handle. Meanwhile, the lower section provides a number of Class II’s, stretches of lazy river, beaches, and swimming holes-a plenty. Gear up at The Ledge Outdoor Equipment Store in Klamath Falls, or enjoy a guided outing with any number of local outfitters, including Momentum River Expeditions.

Caving

Touring Valentine Cave in Lava Beds National Monument. – Dave Bunnell

If all of that weren’t enough, the volcanic nature of the region lends itself to an intricate and seemingly endless network of lava tube caves. The Lava Beds National Monument is home to more than 900 caves alone. For first-timers up to seasoned spelunkers, this is one of the most renowned spots for underground exploration in the country. Just like every other activity on this list, special equipment is required—sturdy footwear, hard-hats, and flashlights or headlamps, along with an extra layer of clothing are a must. A number of beginner caves are conveniently located along the Cave Loop Road including Mushpot, the only lighted cave at the monument. Mid-level caves include the popular and potentially intimidatingly named Skull or Valentine Caves. While those looking for more remote and or challenging caving experiences can get a list of options from park rangers.

Once you’ve had your fill of adrenaline, be sure to discover the slower side of Klamath County. From scenic drives to seriously good organic food & beer, there are plenty of other great reasons to visit the region.

Written by Adam Sawyer for Matcha in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.