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Enjoy Magazine

Country Roads

10/01/2006 01:52PM ● By Brandi Barnett
By Marty Sternberg

Riding a motorcycle in the North State can be challenging this time of year. October weather tends to pivot between dreary cold and blistering heat. The morning can open with promises of a perfect
riding day, warm and golden. But lurking just over the horizon, bulging black rain clouds boil, threatening to turn the day bad in an instant.

Taking the good with the bad is just part of the riding experience. We bikers tend to hold tight to the memories of the great rides and carry gear with us for the changing season. Living in the North State offers spectacular rides in every direction, making it an ideal location to start any journey. With so many great places to ride, it’s hard to pick the best ones.

• Ride west on Highway 299 and catch the sunlight reflecting off
Whiskeytown Lake as kayaks and boats glide by. Take a break at the
visitors’ center and watch as osprey pluck fish from the lake. Then
continue west up Buckhorn Summit with its hairpin turns, watching
the sun as it ducks in and out from behind the Trinity Alps. Then
ride along the Trinity River for miles, watching as people and animals
enjoy the rugged beauty.

• If you’re looking for more of a challenge, take Highway 36 west and
head into the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Twisting and turning
toward Fortuna, this 139-mile ride will test your skills with heart pumping
excitement. The road first hugs Cottonwood Creek and
then snakes along the Eel River, rising to over 4,000 feet in elevation
on its journey to the sea.Here, golden Velds and valley oaks give way
to the mountain pine forest.

• For riders looking for a more laid back road, take Highway 299 east
through Swede Creek Plains and into the Big Valley Mountains. Long
stretches of highway here give way to gentle turns as you leave the
valley behind. Small communities like Montgomery Creek and Fall
River Mills offer places to stop for a meal or just to grab a drink.

•With 99 days a year where average temperatures are over 90 degrees,
chances are most riders will be looking for places to escape the heat.
Highway 44 is one of these roads. It travels east towards Lassen Peak
and leaves the heat far behind. The 10,457-foot dormant volcano
dominates the views, guiding riders into the park.