Preston Peak Botanical and Geological Area ~ Siskiyou Wilderness

The Preston Peak Botanical and Geological Area is contained within a mountain chain known as the Siskiyou Mountains—a sub-range of the Klamath Mountains. It is an arcing range that begins in California near the junction of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, at Weitchpec. The range continues north and, in most of this initial stretch, the crest is protected within the 200,000 acre Siskiyou Wilderness. These mountains are not the highest or most dramatic in the Klamath but are subtly beautiful, botanically diverse, and the wildest the region has to offer. 

Within the Siskiyou Wilderness the highest point is Preston Peak—at 7300 feet its dramatic relief sets it apart from other peaks in the wilderness. Plant diversity abounds because steep escarpments rise from river canyons that can receive over 100 inches of rain and while the peak itself receives high levels of snow.  This varied terrain, complex geology, and temperate climate fosters complex plant communities—here species touch roots with other species that rarely, if ever share common ground.

The designation this area has received from the forest service is due to unique serpentine soils, complex geomorphic slope aspect, and high levels of precipitation that in turn have fostered unique botanical diversity. Plants that grow in western slope forests meet plants from the eastern slope where varied mediums are presented on which to grow—here evolution is takeing place virtually before our eyes. On a trip into the Preston Peak Botanical and Geological area, a keen plant lover can identify 15 species of conifers.

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  • 3/4/2011 9:59 PM Mike Bartling wrote:
    It is great to see there is great interest in the botanic uniqueness of Northwestern CA. My wife and I made a few excursions into the Western form Happy Camp in the mid 1970. How delightful and interesting it was and still is I'm sure. I remember entering a pure Brewer Spruce stand north east of Preston Peak and I obtain a Abie's procera cone due east of Preston Peak. I say it was a noble fir because of the pointed bracts just like you showed in your well done (not cooked) conifer chart. I wanted to always go back and explore the high windward side of the western Siskiyous, other areas too, and perhaps find the type species of Abies procera, not a hybrid. I believe the genetic type may be found there. I applauded the information and the way it is displayed in this site. Keep it up!

    Mike- Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your explorations. The Siskiyou Wilderness is a magical place!
    Regards, Michael

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