Seiad Valley, on the Klamath River, is smack dab in the heart of the State of Jefferson. A state of mind. A state of grace. An inebriated state. Take your pick. You will see the distinctive ''XX'' state seal on everything from hay sheds to highway signs. The double-cross flag flies over the post office in Seiad. You will hear State of Jefferson radio. And see State of Jefferson bumper stickers on every other pickup. Somewhere between Castle Crags and Etna you entered a space that is not California. The State of Jefferson, comprising the northernmost counties of California and their immediate neighbors in Oregon, is the product of a secessionist movement that caught fire just before World War II.
While the road maintenance issues that were the original flashpoint have long since been forgotten, the basic Jefferson State of Mind is alive and well today, fiercely and stubbornly separate from the affairs of Sacramento and points south.
Although there were no armed roadblocks this time, history almost repeated itself in 2013 when the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to secede from the state of California, citing a lack of political juice in Sacramento and onerous fees for fire protection. The State of Jefferson is not some quaint historical footnote. The longstanding grievance about being forsaken by the state is still very much alive along the Klamath and in the 21 counties of Jefferson.
The first thing you'll notice coming off the trail is the town appears on the map to be just a little ways down the road. But the roadwalk on Grider Road to reach the highway bridge on the Klamath is long and tedious. The first person who sets up a zip line across the river will earn the undying gratitude of every PCT hiker.
Seiad is a town, but it's mostly rural residential and spread over a large area. The Seiad that concerns you is all in one long building, the Seiad Valley Store (44719 Hwy. 96, 530 496-3399). The building also houses the post office (44717 Hwy. 96, Seiad Valley, CA 96086) and the cafe. If you are not so sure your schedule is going to sync with that of the post office, the store will hold hiker boxes. This is a small store with limited grocery, but you could certainly resupply out of here. They are stocked with PCT-specific items.
Aside from nailing the post office hours, the other logistical issue for Seiad is that the cafe does not serve dinner. After 2 p.m. you may be eating out of the store. If this is really important to you, call them to check the current hours: (530) 496-3340. As for the "Seiad Pancake Challenge" all I can say is don't do it. A stack of five one-pound flapjacks the size of hubcaps is a plateful of trouble. It's much more fun to watch some other fool lose this gambit. As of 2018, I don't believe the Wildwood restaurant exists. Several online mentions refer to it as the "former Wildwood."
If you felt the need to overnight, you have one option: the Midriver RV Park, which is next to the store. It's a full-on funky operation. Most of the park's semi-permanent residents seem to be gold miners with all manner of pumps, dredges, motorized sluices and other heavy equipment scattered around the property. They occupy a nebulous gray area at the intersection of vocation, avocation and cover story. There are showers and a coin laundry. I spent a night here once and found it to be no garden spot. I wouldn't do it again. Treat Seiad as a day stop, not an overnight.
The right way to play Seiad, particularly when it's about 140 degrees by noon, is to do the miserable roadwalk in time to grab a resupply box, buy some beer and some treat foods at the store and get a couple cheeseburgers at the cafe. You want to be in town by 11 a.m. Nap a little next to the cafe, water up and then trundle out of town in the late afternoon. The climb out of Seiad is a dog. Water is an issue (although the data book won't tell you that). Heat is often an issue. Just as I said for the climb out of Castle Crags, treat this climb seriously as a water alert. Twice now I've done an evening roadwalk up to Cook and Green Pass on Seiad Creek Road and felt it was the right call. A full moon. The bankable Horsetail Falls, a surreal white marble waterfall. Seventy degree temps versus 105. Plenty of water. Not a hard choice, pilgrim.
Once you're clear of the Klamath and back on the crest it's fast, cool running all the way to the Columbia. If you're in luck on the timing and there are no weather issues or mosquitos, Oregon just flies by.
Seiad Valley map