Soaring to 14,179 feet high, this magnificent volcano scrapes the turquoise-blue sky, north of Redding, a totem from almost anywhere in the northern part of the state. And while some mountains climb gradually, this one rises from surrounding flatlands in such perfect, cone-shaped, snow-capped majesty that it seems almost unreal—the perfect projection of a child’s fantasy of what a mountain should be.
Yet this is no childish vision—it’s a very real, very big volcano (last erupted in 1786) that is on the bucket list of serious mountaineers. (Famed naturalist John Muir wrote that his ‘blood turned to wine’ when he first caught sight of the Fuji like peak.) Reaching the summit of the mountain is for the hardiest of climbers; ask about guide services at The Fifth Season outdoor shop in the town of Mt. Shasta, a New Age-y enclave on the mountain’s west side. (Get the town’s vibe at The Crystal Room, a prism-filled visual feast.)
"Yet this is no childish vision—it’s a very real, very big volcano (last erupted in 1786) that is on the bucket list of serious mountaineers."
Fortunately, you don’t have to conquer the peak to enjoy this alpine paradise. Easy paths loop through wild flower-filled meadows and into cool forests. One of the prettiest trails, a mellow two-mile path along the McCloud River on the mountain’s south, leads to a trio of waterfalls—all beautiful, though Middle Falls is the real head-turner. There’s camping, caverns and world-class fly-fishing too. Most winters, there’s skiing too, at low-key and local Mt. Shasta Ski Park, on the mountain’s western slope.
California’s north east corner is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with safe to explore volcanoes, hushed forests and trout filled rivers. This is the place for blue-ribbon fishing, houseboats anchored in cool lakes, countless campgrounds and inviting trails for hiking and mountain biking.
"When I first caught sight of it I was weary and 50 miles away and afoot. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.” --Author John Muir, upon seeing Mount Shasta in 1874
All this, plus friendly towns like Chico and Chester and inviting rural farms in fertile lands near the Upper Sacramento River. Redding, the region’s largest city, makes a good base, with river front trails, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and elegant Sundial Bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
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