This post was originally written and posted in July 2017 and updated in Sept 2022
First Visit - July 4-6/2017
During the entire 25 years (since 1992) which we have been living in California, we have never took Interstate 5, all the way up North to the Trinity Alps of the Cascade mountain range, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. until this 4th of July/2017
The Trinity Alps rise high above valley floor below, reaching heights of 9,000 feet.
With massive glaciers feeding high-alpine lakes and rivers, the Trinity Alps Wilderness is one of the most underrated outdoors destinations in California.
My dear friend Donna reminded me, that Lost Horizon‘s Shangri-La by by British author James Hilton is a mountainous utopia, a fictional place featured in the 1933 novel, inspired by Weaverville - a geographical location near the Trinity Alps.
So, of the customary gathering and hosting our friends, who all took off this
4th of July holiday, to other far destinations, we gave up on spectating our famous East coast style traditional township's parade, and spontaneously ventured off to explore the mountainous Cyprus and Pine forested terrain of northern Ca.
Second Visit - Sept 23-26/2022
Right after Keren's and Elie's third wedding event in CA (read here), and
prior to Rosh Hashana (The Jewish New Year) another family feeding Holiday, which, I was left, with no energy, to pull off, due to the earlier major wedding reception production, the four of us took off to this beautiful mountainous region.
Visiting Mt. Shasta and Mt Lassen National Parks was our destination. Situated only 4 hours drive, away from the Bay area, this majestic wooded range
is rich with water streams, waterfalls, and lakes, thus provides aqua-recreation to masses of visitors who love fishing, boating and swimming, as well as many forested hiking trails,
From the Sept 2022 visit
Located at the north end of the Sacramento Valley the country’s second largest water Dam -Shasta Dam was magnificently erected on the way here, in a record time, during the big depression of the 1930 by public work, and for the people, rescuing many from hunger and poverty.
This mega project has been providing since hydraulic center which lights up the entire city of SF, as well as plenty of irrigation water for the orchards and agriculture crops growing in abundance, at the vast semi dessert central Valleys' farm.
On our second visit to the Dam, with Keren and Elie, in Sept 2022, the weather temperatures were high at the 90th, and the level of the lake's water at the Dam was at its lowest ever.
The formidable guard at the Security Check Booth, leading to the paved access road, which connects the East with the West side, on the top of the Shasta Dam, refused our car to pass. Access to the road is permitted to visitors only by foot, and the vista of the huge Shasta Lake, definitely worth, even a short stroll on the road.
The guard ,with whom we joked about his toughness, shared that he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, a veteran of the US army forces, serving on a special intelligence unit, in which he personally perused after the Libyan Qaddafi leader, as well as Noriega of Panama. Thus we made sure not to mess up with him, over an access into high security national Dam's road....
Another known road with a more friendly access to the public is:
"Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT)
The highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountainous range is also very popular among adventurous long-distance hikers/ pack-packers, who cross on rout, by foot for about 6 months, through the scenic "Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT) stretching out from Mexico all the way up north to Canada.
Other Trails around Shasta Area
Charming little Towns In between and along the interstate 5 route, some charming historical little towns, which we drove through, are worth visiting. I especially liked "Dunsmuir" - on the upper Sacramento River in the Trinity Mountains.
Dunsmuir, we discovered, when visiting it again on Sept 2022, that although has no ice-cream parlor, it is rich with shops marketing "spirituality" and several energy infusing rocks,
Those who sell them promise to heal any malady, as well as provide personal befitting of the matching healing stones to banish the calamities, of those desperate believers, who woild gladly pay for them.
"McCloud" - Nestled on the southern slope of majestic Mt. Shasta at the back drop
of thr magnificent pointy mountain, it is a charming sleepy upscale retirement community
of about 1000, and offers outdoor recreation, within captivating scenic beauty,
We were glad to return in 2022 to this quint small town and its historic hotel.
Historical "McCloud Hotel" in McCloud - We lucked out and managed in 2017, to stay at the unplanned night of the 4th, in this historical most quaint small hotel-Inn, which also served great food beyond our expectations. at its "Sage" restaurant.
On our 2017 visit the inn's owner, most pleasant welcoming lady, told us that she left congested Santa Monica of South CA, for this northern sleepy mountainous small community, and so far her "exit retirement strategy" has been happily working for her.
On our 2022 visit we booked a head of time, and manged to stay 3 nights at this
frozen- in time charming hotel.
However, I am not sure what happened this year, when the hotel's manager was away on vacation, and the staff needed some nudging to cooperate.
Strangely the staff notified. that no room bedding and cleaning be preformed throughout the entire guests' stay, though the hotel was quite empty,
Also, though the hotel claimed to provide gourmet breakfast, it was definitely NOT. Nor was the restaurant flexible, in accommodating hotel's guests requests.
That was disappointing.
Furthermore, the other casual hotel's Pub/restaurant "Axe& Rose" we dined at on the first night, claimed to be out of the roasted Duck dish, which was advertised on the menu, and on which my heart was set . So my blood started boiling, when I saw, the Duck served to a couple, who arrived at the restaurant, just a bit after us, That dinner didn't go well...for the restaurant....
At McCloud Historic Town 2022
McCloud B.B. Guest house -
606 W Colombero Dr, McCloud, CA 96057•(530) 964-3160
There is also this charming place we passed by in 2017 and which we liked in McCloud, However it was fully occupied that night by a large noisy party, who seemed to be fixated on the 1960 golden years, judging by the shinny flee of only elongated Lincoln and Cadillac vintage cars, from that era, parked demonstratively, on the attractive lawn in front of the guest house. Also the place doesn't have a restaurant.
Other accommodations look quaint, but are not a match to the imperfect McClaud hotel
More historical memorabilia in town:
Sojourn Coffee Shop
207 Quincy Ave · (530) 925-9116
A small quint coffee shop
with tasty pastry and better coffee
than at the McCloud Hotel hotel.
McCloud (Lower Middle Upper) Water Falls off Hwy 89 These 3 enchanting water falls, which are located in a midst of a forest and only a short distance from McCloud town,(15 minutes drive) are wonderful to visit.
David didn't mind the freezing water- 2017
And he couldn't refuse a dip in
the same freezing water in 2022
A hike by the river trail and a swim at its convenient natural water pools, is a must on a hot summer day. Water is crystal clear, very cold but inviting.
The steeps climb down of about 20 minutes, through a shaded forested narrow winding path takes
you way down to the Middle Falls,
The terrace, off the parking lot offers spectacular inviting views of the water fall, the water stream, and several large pools, surrounded by huge rocks, which others, as well as David couldn't resist dipping in
Upper Falls 2017
Right at the upper falls , as a special bonus, we encountered in 2017 most friendly and engaging Grandpa- Steve - a Post Master from Redding, on an nature's outing with his 3 darling attentive grand kids. They call him S-Opa- a combination of Opa (Grand in German) and S-for Steve. Steve generously gave us his time, along with best suggestions on what to do and not miss in the area, for which we were very grateful, as well as in return, had shared with him and the curious kids, about Israel, and also recommended movies to watch .
We would have taken Steve along with us, as our tour guide, had he not been already booked to guide his own precious grands for the day. Steve kindly offered to give us the grand tour of Redding on the next occasion we make it up that far North.
David especially enjoined dipping in 2017 at the "Cattle Camp" water pool. which also facilitates a friendly car access to the river pool area.
However at our second visit in 2022
the water was very shallow and the pool shrunk to half its size
Driving on Route 97
Volcanic Legacy National Scenic byway
On this Sept 2022 visit, driving up North only part of - the 97 vista route .
Along this 500-mile journey from volcano to volcano from Ca to Oregon
reveals vast open space landscape, engulfed by the tall Cascade mountainous scenery
Passing through Weed Town - 2022
Weed town - an historic lumber town of about 3000, which has retained much of its early 1900's charm, is nestled at the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains and half way between San Francisco and Portland.
Just this Sept 2022 Weeds suffered several fires.
A pair of wildfires burned relentlessly through Siskiyou County Saturday, with one destroying much of a historically Black neighborhood in the city of Weed and the other chewing through heavy timberland to the west.
Weeds devastating fire which we saw its horrific impact, when driving through, can be seen in these photos we took
City of Mt Shasta - 2017 Driving through this quint Alpine community, we were guided to get on Everett Ave, which leads up to this, now white snow bold head towering mountain, avalanche capricious,
Mt Shasta - An Active Volcano
On a perfect pleasant clear sunny weather, like we were blessed to have, the walk by foot, from the last car park station, up the mountain was inspirational
The views of the surrounding area, the colorful blooming wildflowers, and even the short distance climb up, that we took, are worth the effort.
Burney Park Lake Britton
Continuing East on route 299 off the 89 Hwy, we crossed Burney Lake and then entered the Mcarthure - Burney Falls Memorial State Park - the second oldest state park in the California State Parks system,
Mcarthure - Burney Falls - Most spectacular waterfalls . The trail going down to the Fall's foothills is not long but quite steep.
A loop walk by the Barney Falls 2022
Driving up the steep mountainous Hwy 299 reveals amazing changing Rock formations, green Meadows, water Streams and cultivated agriculture,
"River Fall Mills"- small agriculture town by Fall River Known for its production of Fall River Wild Rice, Garlic, Mint, Hay, Lavender, Alfalfa and of cattle.
It was a busy weekend for hotels occupancy, at this agriculture back country, and the selection of vacant quality inns, was limited, when we had enough of driving for the day, we had compromised on:
Burney Mountain Guest Ranch - in Castle (Tel: 530.335.254) The rugged typical Californian privately owned ranch, is situated on the high mountainous terrain, right off the "Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT) .
It attracts many pack packers/hikers. For 25$ per night, they can set up their tents on the ranch's ground, and get in return a safe night sleep, an outdoor shower, and a bad breakfast. On the night we stayed there, but in one of the spacious wooden basic cabins, there were maybe 10 very compact tents planted on the premise, whose exhausted bare-foot owners of various ages, were spread out by the pool, or at the communal dining-hall's launch. The charming blond bearded Poul (38) from Australian, especially coughed our attention. He works half a year as a pharmacist in Tasmania, and travels during the other half. Him and his co-worker friend take turns in maintaining the pharmacy each for six months only at a time. He has been hiking on his own, almost 4 months since April, with few short stops to visit friends in San Diego and San Francisco, and has 3 more months to hike .
He also told us, that several nights ago, a mountain-lion came by to sniff him while he was asleep at his tent. Awaken by the noises, he kept still, frozen and was miraculously, saved from becoming the next meal to the wild beast. Daring... or crazy... Unless you can stomach graciously the horrible food being served and the religious fervor (also typical to this part of the state's mountainous communities) being dished out at this ranch, I wouldn't recommend staying there.
Though the ranch's set-up is authentic, and our cabin was reasonable, the religious fanatic unfriendly and stingy owners/staff , the open air huge wooden Cross, looming above the pool area, and the exclusively religious books on display, reinforced by pious quotations, hung off the communal area's walls, were a huge turn off to us. Even the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and of other mountains, the pool bonus, as well as the various small wildlife we encountered, didn't compensate for the mentioned above draw backs.
Lassen Volcanic National Park - 2017
On our third and last day heading South on the 89 Hwy we reached Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Park is a fascinating wonder of vast wild lush forested terrain, pastoral meadows freckled with water streams and happy Californian wildflowers, clear sparkling mountain lakes, numerous head snowed volcanoes, steaming sulphur vents, splattering mud pots, and boiling springs
Among the several recommended stops at the park, we particularly liked the walk along the picturesque water stream at "Kings Greek" .
And the steaming vents, splattering mud pots and the climb up along mud hills at "Sulphur Works"
Shasta Caverns - 2022
Exit 695 off interstate 5) (800) 392-6138
Located in the foothills of Mt. Shasta, 900 feet above Shasta Lake, is a National Natural Landmark
On the way home, on Sept 26/2022 , the 2-hour tour included, a short small bus ride, from the site's Visitor Center which dropped the visitors by the lake.
From there a catamaran cruise across the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake, transported the group, across to the other side of this tranquil most bluish lake, of the 400 miles of shoreline and beautiful reddish terrain, loading off, at an inaccessible to the public, peninsula area.
Above it a huge looming Rook, conceal the small entrance to hundreds of feet hidden inside the McCloud Limestone Mountain Range, of a long network of the beautiful Shasta Caverns and its exquisite rock formations.
Inside the Caverns
Swimming at Shasta Lake under the Lakehead Bridge
The very hot day compelled us to take a short swim, right after crossing, and under the Lakehead Bridge (on Hwy 5 ) over the Shasta lake.
The small harbor below which offers access to boats, also allows an access to swim.
Calatrava Sundial Bridge in Redding
While Stopping for a quick bite on the way back, at "Mosaic" Restaurant by the Sheraton Hotel, at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, which is a center featuring a museum, animals, playgrounds, and botanical gardens, to our delight we also discovered the Sundial Bridge , which crosses the Sacramento River ,in the heart of Redding,
Mosaic Restaurant 826 Sundial Bridge Dr. Redding
Attached to the Sheraton hotel, this very good and pretty restaurant is set in a beautiful location, from which a bridge walkway also leads to the small Park's museum.
Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River
Opened July 4, 2004, the bridge, which was conceived by Spanish architect
Santiago Calatrava, the world’s premier bridge designer, links the north and south campuses of Turtle Bay Exploration Park and serves as a new downtown entrance for Redding’s extensive Sacramento River Trail system . It is working sundial and is one of the largest in the world.
By By Shasta Lake