Mt. Shasta-Cascade Loop: Visit Lakes, Volcanos and Forests in California

Shasta LakeShasta Cascade Wonderland AssociationShasta Lake, a reservoir of the Sacramento River, is known as the Houseboat Capital of the World.

Route Details

Trip Tips

Length: About 500 miles, plus side trips.

When to go: Much of the area can be
enjoyed year- round, but temperatures, especially
in the mountains, are most comfortable
from June to October. Many alpine routes
are closed during winter.

Nearby attractions: Shasta St ate Historic
Park, ruins of gold-mining boomtown
Shasta City, Rte. 299, west of Redding.
Shasta — Trinity National Forest, three wilderness areas and more than 2 million acres
laced with trails and rivers, west and north
of Redding.
Eagle Lake, resort area, with swimming ,
fishing, and campgrounds, Rte. A1, near
Susanville.

Further information: Shasta Cascade
Wonderland Association, 1699 Hwy. 273,
Anderson CA 960 07; tel. 800-474 – 2 78 2 ,
www.shastacascade.com

Although relatively few people live in northeast California — some
call it one of the state’s best-kept secrets — the region boasts a bounty of
scenic riches. This long-distance loop tour, filled with variety and novelty,
offers an ideal introduction, wending among the most dazzling treasures of a dramatic land.

1. Redding
Nestled in the northern reaches
of the Sacramento Valley, Redding
boomed in 1872, when the railroad
was built. The city serves
today as a gateway to the surrounding
wilderness. Its streets offer
hotels, restaurants, shopping,
museums, Turtle Bay Exploration
Park, and the all-glass pedestrian
Sundial bridge.

Preview the area’s wildlife and
enjoy quiet strolls on the Sacramento
River Trail. A leisurely
9.5-mile loop through riverside
oak groves, the pathway is full of
the sights and sounds of many
species of colorful songbirds.

2. Shasta Lake
The drive heads due north on I-5
to Shasta Lake, a favorite of both
boaters and water-skiers. Shaped
like an oddly fingered hand, with
each digit stretching toward an
incoming river, the lake was created
by Shasta Dam. Massive and
imposing — its spillway rises 487
feet — the dam ranks as one of the
nation’s largest concrete structures.
The lake’s zigzagging shoreline is
a mix of red-clay cliffs and foothills
cloaked with pines and manzanita.
To visit the dam, take Shasta Dam
exit 7 miles north of Redding on
I-5, and continue through the city
of Shasta Lake. Shasta Dam Blvd.
will lead you to a panoramic view
of the region.

3. Lake Shasta Caverns
Five miles beyond the turnoff to
Shasta Dam lies the small community of O’Brien, the jumping-off point for tours of these caverns — a cache of hidden beauty
that rivals the area’s more conspicuous
wonders. The trip begins
with a 15-minute ferry ride across
Shasta Lake, followed by a short
hop on a bus that climbs to a simple,
nondescript door. Behind it,
though, lies a surreal display of
geologic art: an interior adorned
with fluted columns, white spires,
and crystallized stalagmites — all
built slowly, drip by drip.

4. Castle Crags State Park
With the Trinity Mountains to
the west, the interstate leads to
Castle Crags State Park, where
huge dome-topped granite spires
rise more than 4,000 feet above
the Sacramento River. Hoping to
strike it rich, gold diggers once
prospected here, but today the
treasures are strictly scenic. Trails
lead sightseers to the foot of the
impressive peaks and weave
through the area ‘s forest, overgrown
with Douglas firs and incense
cedars.

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