As fall settles in and Covid fatigue ramps up, many of us are feeling the urge for autumnal escapes with cool air, changing colors, and time to kick back by the campfire. Just over four hours drive from the Bay Area sits a glamping excursion, in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, with all the hikes, cookouts, and cute farm animals you could want.
Of course, there's much to love about Shasta and its surrounds. The volcano, which can be seen throughout much of Siskiyou County, promises awe-inspiring views and plenty of socially distanced adventure in both fall and winter. So pack up the wagon and make for your destination: the bucolic and certified-organic Belcampo Farms.
Belcampo Farms: Sustainable Glamping With Mt. Shasta Views
Queen beds, Pendleton blankets, and sheepskin rugs keep things cozy inside the glamping tents at Belcampo Farms.
(Courtesy of Elle H. via Hipcamp)
Bay Areans all know Belcampo. Foodies love it for its hearty bone broths and premium cuts of meat available online and at its Oakland and San Mateo restaurants; environmentalists and animal lovers can't fault its regenerative, open pasture, and certified-humane farming practices; and everyone loves the story of CEO/cofounder Anya Fernald, a rare and badass women in the masculine worlds of meat and agriculture.
But did you know that Belcampo Farms—25,000-plus acres of bucolic land, situated down one of many country roads in the town of Gazelle at the base of Mount Shasta—also welcomes visitors for tent glamping, fruit picking, and playing with the animals? Though some of Belcampo's pastureland was tragically consumed by the 2020 Zogg Fire, all the animals, farm buildings, and canvas tents were spared and, as of this writing, the air quality has returned to a healthy level. With autumn officially here and fall foliage bursting in Siskiyou County, there is no time like the present to check in at Belcampo.
As soon as you arrive it will become instantly clear that Belcampo Farms is the stuff of Instagramers' dreams. Ten or so tents—cozied up with queen-sized beds, Pendleton blankets, and sheepskin rugs—sit alongside an organic garden with easy views to the mountain. Depending on the season, you can prepare your dinner with the fresh tomatoes that line the pathway or snack on the fresh strawberries growing in the garden. A well-maintained path leads to a rustic barn where private bathrooms have the ultimate amenity in glamping: heated showers.
There are vast communal spaces, including an open grassy field strung with twinkling lights and a gazebo area with picnic tables for dining and lounging. Entertainment comes in the form of horseshoe pits and bonfires (check the county's burn day regulations before lighting). With Mount Shasta towering just beyond the apricot and apple orchard, it's a picture-perfect place to take in the sunset.
What's more to write home about are the farm animals themselves, from the dogs who work hard to round up the sheep to the free-range chickens to Basil the friendly cat who roams the property freely. If you're a light sleeper, bring ear plugs—the dogs and coyotes sing in harmony at night.
During Covid-19, Belcampo glampsites are open at half capacity with proper social distancing in place, according to Hipcamp's safety standards, and each group of travelers will be assigned their own bathroom. All tents are thoroughly sanitized between visits, and the communal areas are large enough to accommodate a few groups at once without getting too close. If it looks like the glampsites are all booked up on Hipcamp, don't fret. Future dates are opened up and offered gradually, so keep checking back.
// Belcampo Farms glamping tents rent for $125/night at hipcamp.com.
Activities Around Mt. Shasta + When to Visit
See some fall colors with an October hike to Heart Lake.
Mount Shasta is a magnificent sight any time of year and, unlike San Francisco's climate, actually has distinguishable seasons. Spring at Belcampo Farms brings gardens in full bloom and fruit orchards ripe for the picking, while summer promises swimming in nearby lakes. Autumn visits are hard to beat when long leisurely hikes are made all the better with crisp air and colorful foliage. Come winter, since the tents at Belcampo aren't heated, snow bunnies would do well to check into the local, lodge-style McCloud Hotel, a historic property located along the stunning Volcanic Scenic Byway in close proximity to skiing and other wintry adventures.
Hike to Heart Lake from Castle Lake
The hike to Heart Lake and nearby Castle Hill Overlook is one of the most popular activities in the area, and for good reason. At a little over two miles roundtrip (depending how far you choose to venture), this hike packs a lot of punch in a brief time. The 40-minute drive from Belcampo Farms winds through the town of Mt. Shasta where you can grab coffee and housemade bagels at Yak's or a post-hike craft beer at Sparky's Landing.
Starting at the glistening Castle Lake, the hike takes you uphill and over a scramble of rocks to Heart Lake, a smaller body of water framed by views of Mt. Shasta. You can choose to continue the hike another .3 miles from Heart Lake to Castle Hill Overlook, where you'll be rewarded with 360-degrees of Shasta, Castle Lake, and the surrounding peaks and hilltops.
It's important to download a map before embarking on this hike as things can get a bit confusing once you reach the rocks. There are several varying routes, and if you head straight for the lookout point, you'll wind up in the bushes. In the summer, cap the out-and-back hike with a dip in bright-blue Castle Lake.
Thirty minutes south of Belcampo Farms is Lake Siskiyou, a reservoir with unbeatable views of Mt. Shasta and, at certain points in the trail, Mt. Eddy. You can hike the flat trail around the reservoir for as many of the seven miles as you wish or, if the weather is warm, swim in the fresh water. In the fall, Lake Siskiyou is lined with colorful trees, and the calm, sparkling water is perfect for a kayaking and paddle boarding.
Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Sledding
Mt. Shasta takes on a new kind of magic when the area becomes blanketed with snow. Skiing or snowboarding at Mt. Shasta Ski Park (just five miles from McCloud Hotel) is a popular winter activity, with 32 runs and gorgeous views. If you'd rather steer clear of the slopes, return to Castle Lake to snowshoe around the frozen water, or head to Castle Crags State Park for more of a snowshoeing challenge. You'll gain nearly 2,200 feet over this 2.8-mile course, and you'll be rewarded with views of a snowy Castle Dome and the surrounding crags.