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Journey to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest for a majestic escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Let California’s largest national forest embrace you with its lush landscape—2.2 million acres of land encompassing five wilderness areas, plus 6,278 miles of streams, rivers, and hundreds of lakes—which will leave you refreshed in no time.
As you drive north along the I-5, the 14,162-foot summit of Mount Shasta grabs your attention long before you reach your destination. You'll feel the anticipation bubble up inside of you as you lay eyes on NorCal's ancient trees and striking landscape that beckon to all types of adventurers.
Spend your days hiking a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, biking along Bowerman Ridge or Modoc Scenic Byway, going for a boat ride on Shasta Lake, or climbing up the granite spires in the Castle Crags Wilderness. Whether you want to play it cool or go for a ride on the wild side, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest definitely doesn't disappoint.
Things to do in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest
As you meander through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, be on the lookout for bald eagles, bears, deer, and mountain lions roaming through the land. Dozens of unique planet species surround you while trekking to wild waterfalls, roaring river beds, and alpine lakes. Hike along the shores of Lake Shasta—one of the state's must-see lakes—on the Bailey Cove Trail, and embrace the peaceful setting while walking down the shaded path. Unwind at the lakeshore, inhale the sweet smell of wildflowers, and rejoice at the exhilarating sights around you.
For breathtaking vistas, set out on a leisurely hike through the Castle Crags Wilderness. Connect to nature while venturing to three lakes amidst the lush national forest, making sure to stop along the way to take in the serene scenery. (Don’t forget your selfie stick to capture your next Instagram story!)
Traverse along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail to encounter the raw power of the Trinity Divide's Burstarse Falls. The plunging 50-foot falls will leave you speechless. Climbing enthusiasts, you'll catch tempting glimpses of Castle Crags' granite spires—pack your gear, because that epic rock-climbing destination is calling your name.
Long considered a cyclist's paradise, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest offers numerous single-track trails for mountain biking. So, if you're seeking excellent biking trails, look no further than the Bowerman Ridge area, Indian Valley-Butter Creek area, Weaver Basin Trail System, and Clikapudi Trail to get your cycle on. You can even register for the Grinduro Event 2021 in Mount Shasta and become a part of the celebration of cycling.
Regardless of your skill level, you can strap on your helmet and conquer one of the best forest trails in Shasta: The Waters Gulch Loop Trail leads you through the forest to the lakeshore and back. Feel the rush of adrenaline pump through your veins as you race along the scenic route. Grab a towel, too, so you can take a quick dip in Lake Shasta and bask in the sun before your adventure in the forest continues.
Just about two and half hours from Sacramento, Lake Shasta is known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World”, so grab the crew and rent a boat for a few days. Feel right at home while relaxing on the deck; the views of azure waters and snow-covered mountain peaks are simply stunning. There is something surreal about the way the sun sets here, too. The sky turns a bright shade of red, starkly contrasting with the hues of Lake Shasta. While you float atop the tranquil waters, meditating becomes as natural as blinking.
You don't have to limit yourself to boat rides, either. With ample kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities in Lake Shasta, you won't want to leave. Breathe in the fresh air while standing atop a paddleboard in the middle of the lake, or kayak along its inlets and admire the vistas.
Lake Shasta also offers maritime options for the thrill-seekers among us. Strap into a Sky Ski, and feel the wind ruffle your hair as you dive through the air and get a unique perspective of the land below you. If sky skiing is a bit extreme for you, wakeboard across one of NorCal's most exhilarating lakes. Are you ready to learn new moves?
For even more adventures on the water (and on land), hop aboard one of Lake Shasta Caverns' cruises so you can experience three adventures—boating, driving, spelunking—in one. Kick back on the catamaran as you cruise along the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, then soak up the region's beauty on the bus ride to the cave's entrance. You'll feel a sudden shiver when you enter the 250-million-year-old cavern, but as you walk along the illuminated paths, the caverns’ cool climate feels more welcoming. Explore to your heart’s content as your guide takes you through numerous chambers, showcasing more than a dozen incredible formations.
Epic Lodging and camping spots in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest
If houseboating is not your cup of tea, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest provides countless cabin rentals, traditional camping sites, and dispersed camping opportunities. Shasta-Trinity National Forest camping is a special treat for all outdoor enthusiasts—pitch your tent at the Minersville Campground, located right along the shores of Trinity Lake. Contemplate life while gazing at the lake and sipping your morning coffee, jump into the refreshing waters after lunch, and spend your evenings roasting marshmallows with your favorite people.
For dispersed camping, head to the Chanchelulla Wilderness, where you can traipse the rugged terrain and set up camp wherever your free spirit feels most comfortable. During your stay, hike the 6,401-foot-tall Chanchelulla Peak to witness the enchanting panoramic view. You'll feel like the queen of the world as you take in the spectacular Shasta-Cascade terrain spread before you.
For a dreamy getaway, stay at the Little Mt. Hoffman Lookout or the Girard Ridge Lookout in the McCloud Area—the rugged, mountainous terrain and soul-soothing stargazing await you. Feel like a real ranger as you observe your surroundings from these cabins situated high above; connect with the great outdoors and prepare a romantic candlelight dinner for two under the stars.
You can also opt to relax in a yurt or cottage at the Strawhouse Resort, situated right along the Trinity River. With modern amenities like bamboo flooring, air conditioning, an electric fireplace, a clawfoot tub, queen beds, and a large deck area, the accommodations here make for lovely places to spend the evening. Practice mindfulness in style while gazing at the stars through the ceiling skylight.
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