I have passed through Mount Shasta area in Northern California several times without stopping to explore. I finally changed that with a spontaneous trip to the NorCal gem in Siskiyou County. If you’re into mountain views, waterfalls, hiking, caves and good food, you’re going to want to read this guide!
Land Acknowledgement: Okwanuchu, Shasta, Nom Ti Pom Wintu Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting!
All photos in collaboration with Johnathon DeSoto.
- About Mount Shasta
- Best Things to do in Mount Shasta:
- 1. Waterfalls Near Mount Shasta
- 2. Backpacking near Mount Shasta
- 3. Visit Castle Crags State Park
- 4. Shasta Caves
- 5. Sleep in a Train!
- 6. Relax at a Lake
- 7. Best Hiking in the Area
- 8. Explore National Forest Roads
- 9. Winter Activities
- 10. Mount Shasta Spiritual Adventures and Tours
- Where to Stay When Visiting Mount Shasta
- Food and Drink Recommendations
About Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is located along the I-5 highway in Siskiyou County, California about one hour south of the Oregon Border. With access to mountains, the Shasta-Trinity wilderness, lakes and rivers, this area of Northern California is becoming very popular for getaways from the Bay Area and outdoor enthusiasts all over.
Getting to Mount Shasta
I definitely recommend having a vehicle. The population of Mount Shasta City, California is just above 3,000 people and there’s really not a lot around in terms of taxi’s and public transit options.
- Redding Municipal Airport (RDD/KRDD): 61 miles
- Klamath Falls Airport (LMT/KLMT): 94 miles
- Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR/KMFR): 100 miles
Cities in Driving Distance
- San Francisco: 5 hour drive
- Reno: 4 hour drive
- Portland: 6 hour drive
Best Things to do in Mount Shasta:
1. Waterfalls Near Mount Shasta
First, there are lots of impressive waterfalls here and nearby! Pack a lunch and go sit by the water. I went to Faery Falls on a particularly hot day and it was incredible. I went during the week and it was not crowded. You will want to use AllTrails or whatever your preferred navigation app is to get there.
2. Backpacking near Mount Shasta
There are 3 major wilderness areas with lots of available trails to backpacking
- Castle Crag Wilderness
- Mount Shasta Wilderness
- Trinity Alps Wilderness
Mount Shasta makes for a great home base for so many incredible trails. I backpacked into the Castle Crags Wilderness area above Heart Lake and saw one of the best sunrises of my life. If you’re new to backpacking be sure to read my backpacking guide on how to get started and properly prepare!
3. Visit Castle Crags State Park
Like hiking? This place should definitely be on your list of things to do in Mount Shasta. You get a glimpse of the towering 6000-feet tall granite spires on your way North to Mount Shasta. With the Sacramento River and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) running through this park I knew I had to check it out. So, I booked a camping spot here and set out to find the best trails.
Recommended Trails in Castle Crags State Park:
- Crags Trail to Castle Dome
- 5.2 miles | 2,066 ft elevation gain
- Vista Point Trail
- 2.8 miles | 613 ft elevation gain
- Root Creek Trail
- 3.1 miles | 479 ft elevation gain
4. Shasta Caves
Being that Mt Shasta is a volcano, there are many cave and lava tube options in the area to explore. I did not get a chance to do this on my trip, but you bet I’ll be back sometime to cross this off my list.
Things to do in Mount Shasta: CAVES
1. Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark
To go on this geologic adventure, you will need to go on a guided tour. These caverns have impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Tickets are available by reservation or on a first come first served basis. Make it a date night with a dinner cruise! Check out the tour HERE.
2. Plutos Cave
Pluto’s Cave is a partially collapsed lava tube just north of Mount Shasta in the Klamath National Forest. Bring a flashlight and hike the short 0.7 mile flat trail to get to the base of the cave. Navigation like AllTrails is recommended! Check out the hike HERE
5. Sleep in a Train!
Staying here was such a blast and had such great views of the Castle Crag Spires! With over 28 train cars to choose from and a train car restaurant, pool and hot tub, I promise you won’t be bored here.
Check out Booking Details and my complete Guide and Review:
6. Relax at a Lake
Mt Shasta area has lots of lakes and it can get pretty hot here in the summer which is why they are a must for Things to do in Mount Shasta. Pack a picnic or rent a kayak here and enjoy the views!
Things to do in Mount Shasta: Lake Recommendations
- Castle Lake
- Short walk up from Parking Lot
- Lake Siskiyou
- Siskiyou Beach (views of Mt Shasta)
- Lake Siskiyou Viewpoint (Drive up)
- Lake Siskiyou Trail (Hike around the entire lake: 7.3 miles)
- Porcupine Lake and Toad Lake
- Alpine Lake Hike in the Shasta-Trinity Wilderness: 3.4 miles, 849 ft elevation gain.
7. Best Hiking in the Area
There are a lot of hiking trails here with gorgeous views of the mountains. A quick browse of what Trinity National Forest and Shasta Wilderness areas has to offer makes me want to plan a second trip back here. Here are some of the best trails that this part of Northern California has to offer!
Best Day Hikes
- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow on Everitt Memorial Highway (7 miles | 1,354 ft)
- South Gate Trail (3.6 miles | 875 ft)
- Heart Lake (3.0 miles | 813 ft)
- Crags Trail to Castle Dome (5.2 miles | 2,066 ft)
- Faery Falls and Ney Springs (1.3 miles | 255 ft)
- Pluto’s Cave (0.7 miles | 32 ft)
8. Explore National Forest Roads
From a quick browse on google maps, I could see lots of forest roads that could lead to some great adventures! I like to use ioverlander.com or freecampsites.net when looking for OHV roads! Be sure to do your research if you are going to attempt a 4×4 OHV road. You will need an adequate vehicle, satellite communication, survival essentials and more. If you’re looking for some simple free camping check out my guide on how to find free camping near you HERE.
9. Winter Activities
A lot of these things to do are geared towards summer travel. The winter time in the Mount Shasta area has a ton of adventurous activities for the outdoor lover as well!
- Mt Shasta Ski Park
- Snowshoe Heart Lake
- Snowshoe Caste Dome
- Cross Country Skiing
10. Mount Shasta Spiritual Adventures and Tours
If you’re into it, this area is loaded with crystal shops and energy vortex tours. It reminds me of Sedona, Arizona in that way. I have not personally taken any of the tours, and feel out of my element to advise any particular ones, but a quick google search : Mt Shasta Spiritual Tours brought up many options.
Where to Stay When Visiting Mount Shasta
There are many options depending on your preference, so I will list some of the best options that I have found and some that I’ve personally stayed at.
Unique Stay: Dunsmuir Railroad Park Resort
Campground: Castle Crags State Park Campground
I stayed here for one night and loved being so close to multiple trail heads. River access was a nice bonus! Find booking information HERE.
Hotels near Mount Shasta
There are some very cozy hotel options in Mount Shasta. Some of my favorites:
Food and Drink Recommendations
Last, but not least, I wanted to share some food recommendations. I felt like I had really good luck finding delicious food, which can sometimes be challenging in small towns.
Yaks on the 5
If you want an expensive, but absurdly good and unique burger, check this place out. They had the strangest burger combos and I loved it. They also have veggie burger options. Find out more on their website HERE.
Mt Shasta Brewing Co.
I love checking out local breweries when traveling, especially after hiking or backpacking. This was perfect for lunch with lots of yummy options. I really enjoyed the jalapeno beer and the outdoor seating available. For more information click HERE.
Pipeline – Craft, Taps, & Kitchen
This Taphouse had some of the best food on the trip as well as good beer and wine options. Think upscale pub food!
As you can see, there are so many activities in the Mount Shasta area that are worth checking out. I mean, heck, I want to plan a trip back to cross some more of these off my list. With all the hiking options, waterfall views, mountain views, and unique stays listed above, you should be able to craft the ultimate Northern California getaway! I’d love to know what activity you’re most interested in down in the comments!
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