Cool Things about the Mount Shasta Area

Mount Shasta is known for its beauty and it’s outdoors opportunities for hikers, bikers and skiers. But   Shasta and surrounding area gives us so much more, with mountains and valleys rich in history, full of seasonal adventures, scenic water falls, old highways and even a few crags. Let’s begin with some relevant history and popular lore unknown to many people.  
 

History of Mt Shasta Ski Bowl & Park

 

 

The first ski lift on Mt. Shasta began in 1959 with the creation of the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl, located at the end of Everitt Memorial Highway.  The old Ski Bowl is fondly remembered as it was situated at an elevation of 7800 ft, and the first lift carried skiers from 7,850 feet to over 9,200 feet for a downhill run of 6,400 feet.  The current Ski Park lodge is about 5445 feet, 2300 feet lower than the old Ski Bowl.

As an 8 year old, I recall going skiing at the old Ski Bowl for the first time at my Dad’s insistence. The wind was howling and the snow grazed my numb cheeks. My bright yellow coat, long johns and jeans were not adequate to stave off the cold. I held onto the rope tow for dear life and got half way up the bunny hill most of the time before planting myself in the snow again and again.  I clearly recall standing in the middle of the hill perplexed in a blizzard and thinking, ‘people really like this?’  

Because the old Ski Bowl was situated above the tree line at an elevation where snow was plentiful, it was routinely plagued with whiteouts, avalanches and road closures. In 1978, the Ski Bowl was struck by a huge avalanche that destroyed the main chair lift which put an end to the Ski Bowl.

In 1985, a group of local businessmen formed Wintun Development Company with the express purpose of re-establishing skiing on Mt. Shasta. In the summer of 1985 construction began and the Mt. Shasta Ski Park opened December 14, 1985.


Fun Fact: Did you know the Guinness Book of World Records reports Mount Shasta received the most snowfall ever in a single snowstorm: 189 inches (15 ¾ feet), February 13th to the 19th, 1959. 
 

mount shasta ski park

 

Popular Lore: Can You See Her?

As you drive up I-5 you will be wowed when you see Mt. Shasta for the first time, or for the hundredth time! As you are driving north on I-5 and looking at the mountain, you might see the Lady of the Mountain, her hair flowing gently back against the mountain to the east, and her beautiful face towards the heavens appearing on top of the mountain. Two large glaciers form her body profile on the westerly side.  I drove up to the Mountain for nearly 20 years before discovering the Lady of the Mountain. For many people, she remains a mystery.

 mount shasta lady

 

Winter Fun on Mt Shasta

Mount Shasta Ski Park was built in 1985, and it is the newest winter resort in California and one of the newest in the entire United States.

Mount Shasta Ski Park is a winter wonderland for boarders, alpine and cross county skiers alike. You will see stickers on the chairlift as you make your ascent that say, “I Love It Here”.  That pretty much says it all.  Not too big, not too small, it’s just right!  The Ski Park hosts weekly races for California High Schools Ski teams, and has ski demo days throughout the ski season. Don’t miss the end of season party, Pond Skim, that is usually held in April. Check out www.skipark.com for more information on the terrain parks, ski run and other details of the park.

 It is no secret that Mount Shasta is a destination for back country skiers, with her wide bowls and steep descents. The Hotlum-Wintun Ridge on the northeast side has a vertical descent of over 7000 feet steep enough for the wildest daredevil and over 11 miles of track. The Avalanche Ridge is the most popular trail for those attempting to climb or ski Mount Shasta as it the shortest route to the top, and therefore, also the most crowded. There are more than 15 other back country ski areas for the extreme ski enthusiast.

 

Summer Fun - Mountain Biking on Mt Shasta

With the exception of the year known as "no snow" year 2013-14, every Saturday in the summer Mount Shasta Ski Park features ski lift mountain biking. You can ride up the Douglass Chair and shoot down the Mountain on the 1200ft descent back to the lodge, or take advantage of the 10 miles of other trails including two, 700 ft. descent trails from the Marmot lift. 

For a tamer activity, you can ride up and down the chair to enjoy the views, or choose to get off at the top and take a moderate hike down the slopes. 

The Park sponsors mountain bike clinics, and hosts the Volcano Mud Downhill and Dual Slalom Race, a day packed with mountain bike downhill action.  The Volcano Mud Run, is a dirty foot race all in fun. Both races are in July.  www.skipark.com/the-mountain/volcano.

 

The Saga of Hedge Creek Falls

 Hedge Creek Falls were in direct line of the construction of Interstate 5, and the Interstate was diverted in order to save the Falls. Therefore, the Falls are known as, the ‘million dollar waterfall’, referring to the cost to re-route I-5.

 The Falls are were known to be the hideout of the notorious coach robber, Charles E. Boles AKA Black Bart and Charles E Bolton. Tucked behind the Falls is a shallow cave that was said to be used by Boles. Boles has the dubious honor of having robbed over 28 stagecoaches, and was said to be a polite and soft spoken gentleman while robbing the coaches, leaving the lady passengers and their jewels alone and taking only the gold on board.

Curiously enough, though Boles was known for never leaving a trace of evidence, he left poems at his 4th and 5th robbery.  He signed his poems ”Black Bart P o 8”, a name that mystified law men, and made him a legend in western history. The poems are below:

                 The 4th robbery:

                "I've labored long and hard for bread,              

                For honor and for riches

                But on my corns too long you've tread,

                You fine-haired sons-of-bitches.

                Black Bart, the P o 8"

 

                The 5th robbery:

                "Here I lay me down to sleep

                To wait the coming morrow,

                Perhaps success, perhaps defeat

                And everlasting sorrow.

                Yet come what will, I'll try it once,

                My conditions can't be worse,

                'Tis money in my purse.

                Black Bart, the P o 8"

 

Getting to Hedge Creek Falls 

The Falls are located just north of Dunsmuir off of I-5, on exit 732.  Turn right on Siskiyou Ave, Right on Mott Rd. and look for the little park and gravel parking lot (across the street from each other).

Once you cross the road from the parking area and enter the petite park, you will see the trail head. It’s a short trail with a bit of elevation, but an easy enough walk for most people. The Falls are at the bottom of the canyon and fall about 30 feet, making for a spectacular display, especially in the spring when the rivers and streams are running strong.

 If you continue on the trail up the other side of the canyon, you will find a scenic observation area that overlooks the upper Sacramento River.  The round trip is about a half mile and takes less than a half an hour.

 

Castle Crags

 Castle Crags is an unexpected surprise towering above the tree line as you round the corner near Castella, driving north to Mt. Shasta.  The exit for Castle Crags State Park is clearly marked but easy to miss because you are mesmerized looking at the Crags to the west and the exit is to the east.

 Right at the base of Castle Crags is Railroad Park Resort. The Resort’s restaurant and “hotel” rooms are old Southern Pacific railroad cars. It’s a fun place to explore in a spectacular setting.

 Hiking the Crags

 The most popular trail is the 2.7 mile Castle Dome Trail.  It is moderately steep and takes you up to the base of Castle Dome. Climbing to the top of Castle Dome is steep and you will need some knowledge of rock climbing techniques to get to the top of Castle Dome. My friends hiked the Castle Dome Trail 20 years ago and said it was a nice hike. They climbed it again about 4 years ago and said it was hard.

 Fortunately, there are other trails that are a mile or less, and the scenery is still spectacular with views of the Crags, wildflowers and Root Creek.  All total there are almost 28 miles of maintained trails within the Park.  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) weaves through the Castle Crags wilderness for 19 miles, with several local trails giving access to PCT.

 Castle Crags dolomite structure is part of the Klamath Mountains. The lowest point in the Park is about 2000 feet, while the upper reaches of the spires are over 6500 feet. The Crags are reportedly as much as 65 million year old.

 This is a great link for perspective photos and more information about Castle Crags trails, rock climbing and lakes. http://www.summitpost.org/castle-crags-wilderness/479974

For more information on hiking trails and the Park in general contact Shasta Trinity National Forest Station in Mt. Shasta or McCloud:  

 http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/shasta-trinity-national-forests-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid9351.html

 castle crags at railroad park

 

Everitt Memorial Highway - The Old Ski Highway on Mt Shasta
 

Everitt Memorial Highway is a scenic drive everyone should take while visiting Mount Shasta. You start out on Lake Street in town and head northwest. You will be drawn toward the Mountain and the beautiful scenery as you make your way up to the site of the old Ski Bowl,14 miles from town.  Take a coat or sweatshirt because you are headed up to almost 8000 feet in elevation, and it can get unexpectedly cold. When you reach the old Ski Bowl parking lot you cannot go any further, and you have arrived at the highest point you can drive to on Mount Shasta. 

 The views to the west are expansive and stunning anytime, but bring a snack and a choice beverage and try to catch a summer sunset, and then stay for star gazing.  You can feel the peace and serenity up there, and it is not uncommon to see people just sitting and being. If you come back down the Highway at dusk, you can see the sun rolling down Black Butte reminiscent of a Mayan Temple.

 The last time I went up there with a friend, a group of us spent a good part of the evening watching a UFO in utter amazement. We later identified our UFO as a satellite.  On the same trip, a man came up to us who had hitched a ride up and inquired about a ride back to Mt. Shasta City. He ran into someone he managed to get a ride, but we had an interesting discussion about how he got 14 miles and 4500 feet from town with no plan to get back as night was falling.

 Everitt Memorial Highway was named in memory of John Samuel Everitt, a Shasta National Forest Supervisor. Mr. Everitt died in 1934 fighting the Bear Springs fire.

 mount shasta scenic view