Glistening Mount Shasta and its eponymous base camp of a town aren't exactly close to the Bay Area, but that's precisely what makes the area so special—it's far removed, yet still accessible.
Given Shasta's location approximately halfway between San Francisco and Portland, most visitors encounter the area as a quick pit stop or as a nice scene out the window during a northbound or southbound road trip along I-5. Well, we're here to tell you that Mount Shasta should be a destination in it's own right.
Middle Falls, on the Upper McCloud River.(Aron Bosworth)
Situated less than 50 miles south of the Oregon border and dominating much of the far northern California skyline, 14,179-foot Mount Shasta is the second tallest volcanic peak in the Cascade Range and a stunning stand-alone peak to behold. The mountain encompasses a massive volume with a circumference of slopes that draw in an eclectic mix of climbers, skiers, artists and those with more spiritual inclinations. Reverberating outward from the mountain in all directions is a sea of volcanic buttes, sub-ranges, lakes and rivers that provide a diverse backdrop of outdoor venues and experiences, a backdrop nearly as grand as the mountain itself.
Suffice it to say Mount Shasta has a lot to offer. Here are 10 reasons we love visiting the Mount Shasta area, reasons we think you'll fall in love with it, too:
- Yellow Butte: Providing one of the best views of Mount Shasta's northern slopes, this 3-mile hike is seldom visited yet offers postcard worthy views and spectacular spring wildflowers.
- Black Butte: Adjacent to the town of Mount Shasta, Black Butte is a shapely volcanic plug dome lying to the west of the mountain and rising over 2,000 feet from base to summit. Hikers can climb switchbacks leading up the butte's lava-scree laden slopes to incredible views of Mount Shasta, Mount Eddy and surroundings.
- McCloud River Three Falls: The spring-fed McCloud River and it's three falls offer one of the most picturesque stretches of riverbank strolling anywhere. The river is accessible year round, but during the summer months Lower, Middle and Upper Falls each offer their own version of a unique swimming hole experience.
- Deadfall Lakes + Mount Eddy: Hike or backpack to Deadfall Lakes and on up to the tallest peak in the contiguous U.S. west of Interstate 5. At 9,026 feet, Mount Eddy is the high point on the Trinity Divide, affording one of the best views of the Trinity Alps and Mount Shasta. Views stretch from Lassen Peak to the southern Oregon Cascades.
- Heart Lake: This short hike above Castle Lake near Castle Crags gives much more than what it requires to get there: idyllic swimming and views over Castle Lake and Mount Shasta and stunning wildflowers in late spring and summer.
- Castle Crags Dome Hike: Rising above the Upper Sacramento River Valley is a seemingly out of place grouping of granite domes and spires one would expect to find at Yosemite known as Castle Crags. Hiking 2,000 feet above the river on the Crags Trail affords access to Castle Dome, which can be summited via a short scramble. More Shasta views await! Castle Crags is also an option for wintertime exploration.
- Burstarse Falls Hike: Tucked away behind Castle Crags along the Trinity Divide is a picturesque waterfall that is accessible year round known as Burstarse Falls. This 5-mile round-trip hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail to Lower Burstarse Falls. Take a short and cautious scramble on the east side of the creek to reach main Burstarse Falls.
- McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: Slightly off the beaten path from Mount Shasta, McArthur-Burney Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls to flow throughout California. Fed from an underground spring, the 129-foot falls so impressed President Theodore Roosevelt that he declared McArthur-Burney Falls the eighth wonder of the world. This is one waterfall not to be missed.
- Mount Shasta Climb, Avalanche Gulch: Ever desired to stand on top of a 14,000-foot peak? Mount Shasta's Avalanche Gulch route may offer the best non-technical bang for your buck. Starting at Bunny Flat on the mountain's southern slopes, the route ascends a broad gully leading to Mount Shasta's summit. Note this is still a physically demanding route requiring ice axes and crampons and gets crowded during peak climbing season (guides available).
- Mount Shasta, Hotlum-Wintun Ridge: Looking to escape the crowds? A more demanding spring route, but one that offers one of the best ski descents on the mountain, is found on Shasta's north side. Upon summiting, ski 4,000 feet of sustained steeps down the Wintun Glacier for a combined 7,000-foot descent back to the car. Note that this is a remote side of the mountain where help is less available than in Avalanche Gulch.