- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Visit Shasta-Trinity National Forest
California’s largest national forest is a study in contrasts: Its elevation ranges from 300 to 4,300 meters, its terrain includes both volcanic mountains and placid waterways and it has off-the-grid wilderness, but it’s also dotted with charming small towns. Which is why everyone from skiers to climbers to fishermen can find their niche in this haven of solitude, fresh air and spectacular views wedged into the far northern reaches of the state.
Covering 894,552 hectares over parts of six counties, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest encompasses five wilderness areas, 1,000 kilometers of streams and rivers and hundreds of mountain lakes. The Trinity Alps section is famed for its hiking trails and access to the bass-filled Trinity Lake, while the McCloud, Upper Sacramento and Trinity rivers are world-renowned for trout-fishing and whitewater rafting. Kayakers and canoeists can paddle around Lewiston, Castle and Siskiyou lakes, and the man-made Shasta Lake is popular with house boaters, swimmers and spelunkers. To get deep into the backcountry, consider a horseback riding safari, or stay comfy in your car during a scenic drive along the Modoc Volcanic National Scenic Byway. Wherever you go, try to spot wildlife such as bald eagles, black tail deer, bears, coyotes and foxes.
The park’s crowning glory is, of course, the perpetually snow-capped Mount Shasta. Hardcore climbers who attempt the tough slog to the top – especially given the trail-less final 1,80- meter ascent – consider it a major prize to get there.
Non-experts can tackle its lower slopes either on hiking trails or on skis at the Mount Shasta Ski Park. For overnight stays, most visitors opt to go camping or stay in one of the historic guard stations or lookout cabins. But those seeking creature comforts can always opt for a cute town like Mount Shasta, where there’s plenty of laid-back dining, shopping and lodging.