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Kelsey Trail (Elbow Springs-Lake Harrington)

This trail is basically a ridge top trail and provides spectacular views.

Length: 10.75 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

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Location: At SW edge of Smith River NRA, c. 20 mi. SW of Crescent City.

State(s): California
Counties: Siskiyou
Longitude: -123.5565
Latitude: 41.672

Driving Directions

From Happy Camp travel approximately 10 miles south on Hwy 96 to Forest Service Road 15N19. Turn west on 15N19 and follow the signs, approximately 15 miles, to the Kelsey Trail/Elbow Springs Trailhead. The turn-off for the trailhead will be on your right and it heads uphill. The spring is just beyond the trailhead, so if you come to a wet spot in the road on a dry day you may have gone just a little too far.


This is the trailhead for the Kelsey National Recreation Trail leading into the Siskiyou Wilderness and providing access to Bear Lakes. The Kelsey Trail once stretched from Crescent City inland to Fort Jones. It was a main supply route in the 1850's for the fort and brought much needed supplies to the miners in the goldfields. Water is scarce on this trail. Not recommended for stock use. The turn-off is labeled "Bear Lakes."

Note: A wildfire burned through the portion of the Siskiyou Wilderness accessed by the Elbow Springs trailhead in 2017. You may encounter numerous fallen trees along the Kelsey Trail.

Additional Details

Width: 24 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil

Average Grade: 5%
Maximum Grade: 15%
Elevation Low Point: 4,400
Elevation High Point: 5,200
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail management:
Patrick Garrahan
USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 19
Happy Camp, CA 96039
(530) 493-1718
[email protected]



Historic Smith River. Photo by USFS.

Historic Smith River. Photo by USFS.


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