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Lake Siskiyou

The perfect destination for an idyllic mountain getaway in Northern California

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If summer memories have an address, it’s at Lake Siskiyou in the Shasta Cascade region. Nestled at the foot of the Trinity Divide and fed by five mountain streams, the crystalline lake has all the perfect ingredients for a summer vacation—warm water for swimming, miles of sandy shoreline, and plentiful rainbow and brown trout—and it’s only an hour’s drive from Redding. Nonstop blue-water action is interspersed with quiet, lingering moments—an osprey diving into a ripple-less cove, a stand-up paddleboarder plying her craft across the lake, or the morning sun rising over fir-clad hills. It's no wonder this part of the state, sometimes called Upstate California, has such broad appeal.

Families flock to Lake Siskiyou Resort, where they can rent a cabin or pitch a tent and take advantage of watersport rentals, from kayaks and paddleboards to 15-person party barges. The younger set can spend all day clambering up and zooming down water slides and splashing around in warm, shallow water—with refueling stops at the resort’s ice-cream stand.

Landlubbers can bike or hike the 7-mile Lake Siskiyou Trail circling the lake. The scenic north shore features a single-arch suspension bridge over Wagon Creek—an ideal spot for selfies. Steel cables hang from a massive arch, suspending a sturdy wood-and-steel deck. The forested path offers fantastic vantage points for viewing and photographing Mount Shasta, the largest stratovolcano in the Cascade Range. Shasta’s hulking volcanic cone soars to 14,179 feet high, its loftiest reaches capped with glistening ice and snow long into summer.

If camping isn’t your bag, book a stay in a lake-view chalet at Mount Shasta Resort on Lake Siskiyou’s east side. Play a round of golf on the resort’s challenging greens or sign up for a little pampering at Sacred Mountain Spa. Drive 10 minutes into Mount Shasta City for lunch under the patio umbrellas at Lilys, then shop for outdoor gear at The Fifth Season. In neighboring McCloud, spend the night at the historic McCloud River Mercantile Hotel, built in 1897 as the lumber mill’s company store. Tastefully appointed rooms feature 12-foot ceilings, claw-foot tubs, and feather comforters. Browse the first-floor of the Mercantile for overalls and aprons, old-timey salves and apothecary goods, and gourmet food and wine.

About 10 miles away, you can hike to two smaller alpine lakes within Shasta-Trinity National Forest—Castle Lake and Heart Lake—which both offer views of Mount Shasta in the distance. Take the out-and-back trail from the Castle Lake trailhead and climb the steep one-mile route to reach the small but scenic Heart Lake. This is also a perfect trail for the off-season—bring snowshoes and hike it while it's covered in snow.

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