Shasta Country

Lake Shasta and Mount Shasta
Prayitano/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Northern California's Shasta and Siskiyou Counties could well be called Shasta Country. That's where you'll find Mount Shasta, Lake Shasta — and some small, historic towns to putter around in.

The Shasta area also affords good fishing, water sports, and boating, as well as mountaineering and a nice ski and snowboard area open in winter. In spite of all that, not very many people know about the area, and even fewer actually go there. That makes it a great place to head when everywhere is packed full of people.

Best Places to Go Around Shasta

Lake Shasta is the area's best attraction. It's a beautiful, clear lake with more than 350 miles of shoreline and a popular place for fishing, water sports, and houseboat rentals. You'll find no less than ten marinas and resorts on its shores.

Shasta Lake Scenic Byway is a three-mile scenic drive through the city of Shasta Lake that takes you to an overlook with a view of the three famous Shastas: Shasta Dam, (the tallest center overflow dam in the world), Shasta Lake, (California’s largest lake), and Mt. Shasta (14,179 feet). When you're done gawking around from the overlook, you can continue to the dam and take a guided tour.

Other Places to Go Around Shasta

These towns and sights are listed in order from south to north:

Castle Crags State Park: Good hiking and camping beneath jagged granite peaks. And those craggy rocks really do look a little bit like a castle.

Dunsmuir: This town was originally known as Pusher, named for the extra locomotives added to the train here to get it up the canyon. Dunsmuir boasts a historic main street dominated by the marquee of the old California Theater. The Cornerstone Bakery here is one of the best places in the area for breakfast or lunch. The best catch-and-release trout fishing in the area is found on the stretch of the Sacramento River below Box Canyon Dam from Cantara downstream past Dunsmuir.

McCloud: An old lumber town, McCloud boasts a small, early 1900's historic district that is on National Register of Historic Places. If you've got a sweet tooth, don't miss the Sugar Pine Candy Company located in the old mercantile building. The McCloud Hotel has a nice restaurant. In winter, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding at the nearby Mt. Shasta Ski Park.

Mount Shasta is beautiful to look at from a distance. You can take a scenic drive to the Everitt Vista Turnout for the closest look you can get at the mountain, but if all you do is drive to the parking lot, it's a bit disappointing. If you want to climb Mt. Shasta, scaling the 14,180-foot-tall mountain takes most people at least two days. You can get all the details about doing that from the Forest Service website — or you can climb it with a guide from Shasta Mountain Guides.

Mt. Shasta City is a small town near the base of the mountain, where you can find a place to stay and a bite to eat.

Weed: Drive northeast on US Hwy 97 from here for some of the best views of Mount Shasta's classic shape. The adventurous traveler can also explore ​Pluto's Cave, a subterranean lava tube. Located about 12 miles northeast of Weed, it's marked with U. S. Forest Service signs.

If you're interested in the legendary Bigfoot, who is also sometimes called Sasquatch, you might want to know about the​ Bigfoot sightings that have been reported around Mt. Shasta. They include some pretty bizarre stories.

Tours and Hikes

Jack Trout's Mt. Shasta Tours offers one-, four- and six-hour tours of the area. Mr. Trout is also a fishing guide.

River Rafting

With three rivers running into Lake Shasta, there's plenty of whitewater to be found in the area. These companies offer river rafting trips:  Living Waters Recreation,  River Dancers, and Rise Up River Tours.