A Hike to Iron Canyon

I went with an OLLI group on a hike to Iron Canyon today. Not too strenuous, about the right length for me. The weather was perfect, warm with a slight breeze. I wouldn’t recommend this trail in the summertime — it would be hot and there isn’t much shade. But right now is a good time, and pretty soon there will be a good display of wildflowers. (Not a great display though. We have had very little rain this winter.)

The Iron Canyon Trail is on BLM land and the trailhead is a short drive up Highway 36 east of Red Bluff. The majority of the hike is over fairly level but very rocky terrain, and then you get to this:

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It’s a gorgeous view and a good place to stop and eat your lunch. The entire trail loop is 3.6 miles. We were out for about three and a half hours — we don’t hurry. Along the way you get nice views of the Coast Range, the Trinity Alps, Lassen Peak and Brokeoff Mountain, and Mount Shasta.

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We saw turkey buzzards flying over the river, and one northern harrier (at least, that’s what someone said it was. To me it was some kind of hawk.) See him?

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And . .  there is a history connection. The bluff overlooking the bend in the river is known as Smith Point, named for Jedediah Smith, the early fur trapper, frontiersman, and explorer. He came through here in 1828, traveling along what he called the Buenaventura River. He got to this point and found the canyon too rocky and narrow, so he turned back and looked for another way.

Smith was the first American explorer to traverse the length of California. He continued on into Oregon and followed the Columbia back to the Rocky Mountains. After several years of exploring, he died a tragic and too-early death at the age of 33 when he met up with a band of Comanches on the Santa Fe Trail.

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About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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