Smith River along Highway 199

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Northern California is home to some mighty rivers, such as the Sacramento and the Klamath, but there is no more scenic river in this part of the state than the less might Smith River. Although not a huge river, it is still the second largest free flowing river in the state of California. It is fed exclusively by the Siskiyou Mountains, a small, not terribly high but very rugged chain of mountains in the northwest corner of California, a favorite stomping ground of the Sasquatch. What is unique about the Smith River, besides the scenic canyons through which its various forks flow, is the color of the water: a sort of aqua green, somewhat similar to the color of some of the lakes in the northern Rockies:

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The river divides two at the town of Hiouchi, with one fork, the “South” fork, flowing in from the west, and the other continuing along Highway 101 in a northwest fashion. The south fork is the broader one, especially in the spring:

When gushing near flooding levels under a noon sun, the river turn a lighter, almost muddy color:

The north fork is equally scenic, as it gushes through and past various boulders:

It’s quite beautiful in the spring, when both forks run full. Best light is found in the morning or late afternoon, particularly in partly cloudly situations. There’s a section of the river near the junction of Highways 199 and 197 where the river flows through some groves of immense old growth redwoods.