Shasta-Trinity National Forest
In the northeastern corner of California lies one of the country's most beautiful regions—the Shasta Cascade.
Covering an area roughly the size of Ohio, unspoiled, breathtaking vistas enthrall visitors with towering mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, whitewater rivers, dense lush forests, and glistening lakes. The Shasta Cascade region contains seven national forests, numerous national and state parks, the Trinity Alps and the California Cascade range—including two giant glaciated volcanoes, the dormant 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta, and the still active 10,457-foot Lassen Peak.
With a population of less than 450,000, it is difficult to believe that this area could be part of one of the most populated states in the nation, California. The Shasta Cascade is where people go to get away from the frantic city pace, appealing to those who like a leisurely approach to the outdoors as well as those who enjoy adventure.
The varied terrain of the National Forests offers endless opportunities for mountain bikers. To help introduce you to these forests, a handful of Forest Service riders, along with people who have an intense interest in mountain biking, have put together a number of rides to share with you.
A note on the difficulty ratings—remember, these are subjective ratings only, everyone's riding ability will differ somewhat, so keep this in mind when choosing a ride.
Whiskeytown Lake is the centerpiece of the Whiskeytown NRA, but don't overlook the extensive backcountry here. Bike rides at Whiskeytown range from the challenging Shasta Bally climb to the relatively easy and short Shasta Mine Loop Trail.
Distance: 7 Miles (one way)
Type: Maintained dirt and 4WD
Getting There: From Redding take Hwy. 299 W to JFK Memorial Drive at the Wiskeytown Lake Information Center. The ride begins at the junction of Shasta Bally Road and JFK Memorial Drive.
About the ride: This ride is a continual steep climb all the way to the summit of Shasta Bally Mountain at 6,200 feet. The road is 1.4 miles of maintained dirt road to Sheep Camp and then turns into a steep 4WD road for 5.6 miles to the top.
Shasta Mine Loop Trail
Distance: 3 Miles
Type: Maintained dirt
Getting There: From Redding take Hwy. 299 W to JFK Memorial Drive at the Whiskeytown Lake Information Center. At the 25 mile-per-hour turn, continue straight onto Paige Bar Road. Park at the dirt lot opposite the intersection of Peltier Valley Road and Paige Bar Road.
About the ride: The three-mile loop climbs for approximately 3/4 of a mile before turning to a steep, narrow downhill. The trail leads to the Mt. Shasta Mine, then behind the Whiskeytown Cemetery and back to the parking lot.
South Fork Mountain Road
Distance: 5 miles
Type: Unimproved dirt
Getting There: I-5 to Redding then Hwy. 299 W. This ride begins just east of the Whiskeytown Lake Visitors Center on the north side of Hwy. 299.
About the ride: The road and climb are both good for beginners, but the length warrants an intermediate ride. The top of South Fork Mountain (3,450 feet) offers some spectacular views. Cyclists should be aware of vehicles on the ride down.
Distance: 35 Miles
Type: FS maintained and Singletrack
Getting There: From 1-5 in Mt. Shasta City take the Central Mt. Shasta City exit and make an immediate left on W Lake Blvd. Follow to Old Stage Road and turn left. At the Y, stay right and follow signs to Siskiyou Lake. Stay on W.A. Barr Road (FS 26) for 12 miles to Gumboot Lake.
About the ride: See spectacular views of the Castle Crags and forested valleys and peaks. Follow FS 26 until it forks and take the unmaintained road to the right to Willits Ravine. Pick up FS 25 and follow down to the gravel road that leads back to 1-5 in Castella. Can also loop back around to 26 and do a short loop that takes you back to Gumboot Lake.
Circle of Mt. Shasta
Distance: 50 miles
Type: FS maintained
Getting There: Take exit 1-5 N at 89 just before Mt. Shasta City and follow to Forest Service Road 88. Turn left and follow 88 to the intersection of FS 31. The ride begins here.
About the ride: Circle Mt. Shasta in a counterclockwise direction. Follow FS 31 to the junction of FS 19. Turn left and then immediately left on 42NO2 for 6.7 miles to 42N16. Turn left at tree cutting sign 42N34; right at 42N33 down to the railroad tracks. Follow tracks out to south of Weed or arrange for a shuttle. There are a lot of opportunities to make variations at the beginning and end of the ride, so be sure to study a map. The scenery is spectacular with views of Mt. Shasta to the left and glaciers on the eastern slope and lava flow fields in the valley to the right. This ride can be done in more than one day at a leisurely pace with plenty of opportunities for camping.
Distance: 6.6 Miles
Getting There: From Redding, take 15 north to Mountain Gate Blvd. exit. Turn right and follow Old Oregon Trail to Bear Mountain Road. Turn left on Bear Mountain Road and follow down to the Jones Valley Boat Ramp parking lot. Trailheads are located at the SW and SE corners of the lot.
About the ride: The trail covers beginner to intermediate terrain and offers nice views of Shasta Lake. The total elevation gain is 500 feet with only two moderate climbs to deal with. Try riding it counter-clockwise for best downhill.
Distance: 70 miles
Type: Singletrack, FS maintained and gravel
Getting There: Take 1-5 north of Shasta Lake to Dog Creek (underpass).
About the ride: This challenging ride crosses over the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit Rivers as well as dozens of creeks and streams. Begin at the Dog Creek underpass at 15 and take Forest Route 34NI7 to McCLoud Bridge where it runs into FS27. Follow 27 all the way to the gravel road at Potem Falls. Follow the gravel road to 34NO2 to Sagehen Hill where it becomes an unmaintained road and goes along Backbone Ridge. The road becomes Bear Mountain Road (County 5HO4) at Jones Valley. It is possible to follow Potem Falls Road out to Hwy. 299 at Round Mountain and follow the highway back to Redding. The loop can either be completed or have a shuttle arranged. This ride should probably be done in two days with possible campsites all along the McCloud River or at Hoffmeister Creek.
The Circle of Mount Shasta would be our pick for a bike ride for anyone. Advanced bikers looking for an overnighter will groove on the Three Rivers ride.
Thanks to the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association (SCWA) for providing this information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication