The 7 Best Hikes in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest

The 7 Best Hikes in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest

By California.com
July 31, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe. 

Hiking through Northern California is more than just spending time in nature. The alpine terrain and fresh mountain air free you from the chaos of everyday life. Hike harder than ever before and reward yourself with the breathtaking vistas of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The Shasta Forest is known for its healing powers, cascading waterfalls, and flowing rivers and lakes—making it the perfect landscape for a delightful summer hike. Trek your way through majestic old-growth forests and jump into the cool mountain waters on hot summer days. Plan a weekend getaway in Shasta, which includes soul-soothing hikes, eye-opening adventures, and mind-blowing camping experiences.

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s Best Hikes

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Bailey Cove Trail

Enjoy the serene scene of Shasta Lake as you hike the shoreline Bailey Cove Trail. There isn't anywhere better to unwind than Shasta.

Location: Bailey Cove Day Use Area, Exit # 695 off of I-5

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.1 miles

Time: 1–2 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be on a leash.

One of the best forest trails in Shasta is the Bailey Cove Trail. Admire the peaceful nature around you as the trail leads you along the shoreline of Lake Shasta, and the forest’s magical powers will have you daydreaming in no time. Lush colors and happy birdsong will follow you along. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit; bask in the mountain sunshine and take a quick dip in the pristine water. For a chill weekend, go with the flow and rent one of California’s hottest houseboats. Known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World”, Lake Shasta is the most popular houseboat rental destination, so pick a date, pack your bags, and head to the lake with your favorite people. 

Castle Lake Trail 

Bask in the sun and take in the stunning views of Castle Lake. Cool off and jump in the azure water before heading on a hike.

Location: Mount Shasta Area, Castle Lake Parking

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: About 3.2 miles

Time: 1–2 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes

Venture to three majestic lakes of the Shasta Forest—Castle Lake, Heart Lake, and Little Castle Lake—a journey that will steal your heart. Admire the wildflowers in bloom as you make your way to the summit above Heart Lake for an irresistible photo-op of Castle Lake and Mount Shasta. From the Heart Lake Trail Merger, traverse to Little Castle Lake. As you traipse through meadows and the pine forest, breathtaking views of Mount Shasta and the shimmering waters of Little Castle Lake await you. The last stretch of the trail greets you with a rather steep descent, but is accompanied by the enchanting sound of a flowing stream that feeds into the lake. Plunge into the refreshing waters of this sanctuary before you head back.

McCloud Waterfall Trail

Feel the breeze and cool waters of the McCloud River Falls as they splash against your skin. Waterfall lovers are sure to fall head over heels.

Location: Lower Falls Picnic Area, McCloud

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: About 3.5 miles

Time: 1–2 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be on a leash.

As the name suggests, this hike is perfect for all waterfall enthusiasts. Start your exciting journey at the Lower Falls of the McCloud River and hike past the sparkling waters which land in a swimmable waterhole. Continue through an enchanting forest until you reach the mesmerizing Middle Falls. Admire the 50-foot drop of Middle Falls from the overlook above; feel the raw power as you listen to the fierce roar of the rushing water. This is the perfect place to have a picnic before you continue to Upper Falls. Along the way, you’ll be well shaded and embraced by nature. This transcendental journey to the Upper Falls will balance you and help you attain nirvana.

Trinity Lakeshore Trail

Swoon over this magnificent Shasta-Trinity Forest landscape. Hike and swim to your heart's content. The natural scene is oh so stunning.

Location: Clark Springs Campground, Trinity Center

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 8 miles

Time: About 4 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes, but they must be on a leash.

The Trinity Lakeshore Trail—recognized as one of the best hikes in the Shasta-Trinity Forest—winds through an old-growth forest. Trinity Lake is situated along the trail, so disconnect and meditate as you overlook its azure waters. Once you reach the Pinewood Cove Resort, it’s time to turn around and head back. If you’re in the mood, pitch a tent and spend the night under the stars before trekking the Lewiston Lakeshore Trail the following day. Even though the path is well-shaded, jump in the water to cool down. Take in the stunning views and snap memorable photos of the captivating surroundings.

Pacific Crest Trail Ash Camp to AH-DI-NA 

Trek your way through the Shasta-Trinity Forest's magnificent nature. Take a moment to appreciate the Trinity landscape before traversing onward.

Location: Ash Camp, near Hawkins Creek

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 7.4 miles

Time: 3–4 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes

The remote trail from Ash Camp to AH-DI-NA travels along the McCloud River bank but offers a completely different experience. This path is a part of the 2,600–mile long Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) stretching from Canada to Mexico. While you leisurely cross the PCT bridge and safely walk 300 feet above the rushing river waters, it's easy to imagine how early settlers trudged through thea area's dense thickets. Once you reach the AH-DI-NA historic site, you’ll find ruins of the settlers’ root cellars, a basement, cabins, and much more. Take your time to dwell on times long gone before you return to the same path through the woods. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt to hike down the steep trails leading to the river. 

Seven Lakes Basin Trail

Wander your way through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and be on the lookout for picturesque panoramas like this one.

Location: Mumbo Summit (Gumboot PCT Trailhead), Mount Shasta

Hours: Sunrise–sunset

Parking: Yes

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: About 8 miles

Time: About 4 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes

The Seven Lakes Basin Trail is a part of the Pacific Crest Trail which leads you around the Mumbo Lakes, Cliffs Lakes, Seven Lakes Basins, and back. The views of Mount Shasta, Mount Eddy, and the Trinity Alps will leave you breathless. If you’re lucky, you might spot birds and other animals in the wildflower fields. Enjoy views of lush green forests and mountain peaks as far as the eye can see while you remember how good it feels to be wild and free. 

Landers Lake Loop Trail

Traipse through the Trinity Alps Wilderness to Landers Lake for a full day of fun under the sun.

Location: Swift Creek Trailhead, near Trinity Center 

Hours: 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Parking: Yes, limited parking is available

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 15.4 miles

Time: About 9 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes

Now is the perfect time to go on a hike along the Landers Lake Loop Trail. The path takes you along Swift Creek, through the Trinity Alps Wilderness to Landers Lake, and back. Enjoy the sound of flowing water and birds singing as you walk through the deep forest before coming across large meadows of wildflowers. Once you reach the lake, unroll your towel and find a large rock to relax on. After fully recharging under the sun, head back to the path for half of a mile. At the junction, continue north-east along the trail leading to Parker Creek to follow the loop.

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