Rockin' the Marble Mountains: A Teen Service Trip in Klamath National Forest, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13214A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Help preserve access to beautiful backcountry Marble Mountain Wilderness
  • Hike, fish, swim, or lounge on days off
  • Meet interesting people from across the country


  • All meals and snacks
  • Tools and instruction for the work project
  • Pack support to our tent camping base camp


DatesJul 17–25, 2013
Price$525 (Adult)
$425 (Child)
Deposit$100 (Adult)
$50 (Child)
Min. Age14
Difficulty3 (out of 5)
StaffAlison Campbell

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Here is an opportunity for teens, accompanied by one or more adult family members (parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, adult siblings, etc.) to meet others and share the experience of helping to improve a rare natural landscape.

You’ll push yourself physically, sweat in the sun, and maybe laugh in the rain. We’ll work hard creating safe trails so others can enjoy the backcountry, learn outdoor skills like Leave No Trace camping, and have plenty of chill time with people your own age and that awesome adult you bring with you. No doubt you’ll make friends and learn tons.

The Marble Mountain Wilderness is a region of rugged grandeur in the Klamath National Forest. Featuring heavily forested valley bottoms with magnificent old-growth firs, pines and cedars, the area also includes trails that climb to subalpine lake basins and above-tree-line ridge crest views.  Peaks and ridge crests are generally at the 7,000-foot level and, due to the area’s low timberline, abound with subalpine scenery.

This area is part of the famous “Klamath Knot,” one of the most botanically rich areas in North America.  It contains over 500 species of plants, including the weeping spruce, which is unique to the area. Spotted owls, pileated woodpeckers, hawks and eagles soar over the wilderness.  Deer are abundant and sightings of black bear can occur.  Trout fishing is usually outstanding in the wilderness’ many stocked lakes.  Late July and August are prime wildflower times, and the weather is relatively predictable:  Sunny days and cools nights, always with a chance of summer thunderstorms.

Our base campsite will be in the Deep Lake Basin, elevation 6,372 feet. There is fine swimming and fishing from our base camp and ample choices for day hikes for those who want to adventure (in groups of three) on a day off from the work project.

The Project

Working closely with Forest Service personnel, we will learn the safe use of tools and trail reconstruction techniques. By moving dirt and rocks, we’ll create water diversions to help preserve the trail, eliminate excess “social trails,” widen and modify the grade and improve the quality of trails for hikers and riders alike. Tools will be provided. For the work project, trip members are required to wear long pants, sturdy shoes (such as hiking boots), and work gloves. 


Our trip will begin with a potluck dinner at the campground at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17th. It is essential that participants plan to travel on and arrive at the group campsite July 17th. We’ll have an opportunity for introductions, orientation and a “pack check” to make sure we all have the essential items for a safe trip. A pack string will take up our food, commissary equipment, and tools, and we’ll backpack six miles up to the Deep Lake Basin while carrying our personal gear. We will work about four days in all, likely taking two days off to explore and/or relax. The trip will conclude the following afternoon or evening on Thursday, July 25th with a “buy your own” meal at a local restaurant. Inexpensive motel and/or campground resources will be provided in pre-trip communication.

As circumstances are bound to change in the backcountry, flexibility is a valuable asset. For instance, a late-spring snow may necessitate a change in the exact location of our base camp, or damage from downed trees or a trail wash-out may influence the priorities of our work project. Come prepared, and we’ll adjust to whatever surprises come our way!



Getting There

Take Interstate 5 to Yreka, CA. Take the south Yreka exit "HWY 3" to Fort Jones, 18 miles. Turn right (west) on Scott River Road, between the Forest Service Office and grocery store, and go approximately 14 miles. The nearest significant airport is in Medford, OR, about two hours to the north. Redding, CA is another airline destination about 2.5 hours to the southeast. Farther south are Sacramento (five hours) and San Francisco/Oakland (six to seven hours), which can be a bit cheaper to fly to and rent cars from.

We support carpooling whenever possible, and the leader can help facilitate ride-sharing among participants. There’s plenty of beautiful scenery en route!

Accommodations and Food

We will be camping in wilderness, so you will need to bring a weather-tested tent with a functional rainfly, a three-season sleeping bag and pad, and personal camp gear for your comfort. We’ll ensure a safe and healthy camp by setting up a latrine, hand-washing stations, and methods to keep food and scented items out of reach of the bears.

Bring raingear and be prepared for any type of weather. July days are typically fairly mild, but temperatures can get as high as the 80s and drop into the 30s at night.

Come with the attitude that food is part of the adventure. We provide healthy, nutritious, vegetarian-friendly meals with a small amount of meat, along with dairy and/or soy products added to ensure proper protein. We have a group commissary with everyone taking turns in food preparation. Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies and/or strong food preferences should contact the cook to see if accommodations are possible. Our first meal will be a potluck dinner on Wednesday July 17th, and the last will be lunch on Thursday, July 25th.

Trip Difficulty

This trip will be moderately strenuous -- in part due to the elevation and the demanding nature of trail work -- but well within the reach of most people who are in reasonably good shape, well outfitted, and ready to roll up their sleeves. While some backpacking experience is always helpful, this can also be a good trip for beginners. Our trail work will likely involve tools such as shovels and Pulaskis (hoe/axe combos), and there is usually a good mix of jobs to do. We'll provide training in the safe use of tools. You will need boots while we are working on the project, and they are recommended for hiking as well.

Our work will include a range of tasks, and you will not be asked to do anything that exceeds your comfort level. Safety is a priority, and you are the best judge of your abilities. We’ll each work at our own pace. At the end of each day we will be free to cool off in a lake or stream, explore the immediate areas, or just rest our tired muscles. (One rule we strictly enforce is that hiking must be done in groups of three or more.)

Minor medical conditions are no impediment to having a full, enjoyable experience. Please do not forget that all participants must have a current tetanus shot within the past 10 years. This injection is most commonly available in the combination of DPT (Diptheria/Pertussis/Tetanus) from your doctor or at your local public health department for a modest cost.

Equipment and Clothing

While we hope for warm, clear days, the nights are cold and precipitation is always possible -- so please bring three-season camp gear and clothing. You will need a basic first-aid kit containing moleskin, Band-Aids, sunblock, and lip balm, at least three one-quart water bottles, densely woven long pants, work gloves, comfortable broken-in boots, and clothes to layer for the daily temperature changes. Please also bring your eating utensils, cup, plate, and covered Rubbermaid-type container for your lunch.

A more detailed list of suggested equipment will be sent to participants.



  • USDA Forest Service: "Marble Mountain Wilderness" map. Contact the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District, Klamath National Forest, at (530) 468-5351


  • Wallace, David R., The Klamath Knot, Explorations of Myth and Evolution.
  • Arnold, Mary Ellicot and Mabel Reed, The Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country in 1908-1909.
  • Green, David, Marble Mountain Wilderness Guide.
  • Norse, Elliot, Ancient Forests of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Masser, Chris, Forest Primeval.
  • Zuckerman, Seth, Saving Our Ancient Forests.



We will learn firsthand what it takes to manage our nation’s public lands, and we’ll have a chance to discuss how policies have evolved to maintain a balance between accessibility and resource protection. Marble Mountain Wilderness is one of seven designated wilderness areas in the huge Klamath River Watershed, a world-renowned hub of biological diversity in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon. High-quality habitats connecting these core areas, often in lower-elevation river valleys, are threatened by logging, severe wildfires, road-building, agricultural demands on water resources, mining, invasive weeds, and cattle grazing.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Klamath National Forest.



Alison Campbell literally grew up with Sierra Club Outings, having gone on her first trip when she was four. Since then she's served as both trip leader and cook on several service trips. This will be her 6th trip in the Marble Mountains and she is excited to work and bask in the spectacular magic of this area and enjoy time with her son, Jay. By profession Alison is an RN, a yoga teacher, and mom to four amazing kids. She looks forward to meeting new people and sharing this fun “getting dirty” service trip experience.


Kathy Maier hails from the east and is eager to spend any time west of the Continental Divide. A science teacher and physical therapist, she loves to cook -- and cook for those who love to eat. This will be her second trip to Klamath National Forest with Alison.

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