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Mt. Shasta Painting
"Pine at Gumboot Lake"
Original watercolor painting by Kim Solga

Mt. Shasta Painting
"Castle Lake"
Original watercolor painting by Kim Solga

Mount Shasta's Healing Waters


The waters of the Sacred Mountain region are unique. Whether you wish to listen to the music of rushing streams, drink deeply of pure mountain waters in any our communities, or watch the magic of sunlight on lakes, streams and waterfalls, the Sacred Mountain region has much to give you.

The Waterfalls of the McCloud River
To reach these lovely waterfalls, drive past the small town of McCloud (plan to stop and visit this unique community either before or after your journey) and continue about 6 miles further on Highway 89 to the turn-off for Fowler's Campground. Turn at the sign and drive less than 1 more mile to the McCloud River.

Both Upper and Lower Falls are easily accessible by car, while the hike to Middle Falls is beautiful. This trail begins at Fowler's Campground and the distances are marked at the trailhead. You will want to take your time, so bring lunch or a snack and plenty of drinking water. Each of the three falls has its own personality. At Upper Falls, the quiet river gathers itself into a massive stone chute, charging the waters with enormous energy before they spill into a pool far below. Middle Falls, the most inaccessible, spreads a sheet of falling water over a lava cliff. Lower Falls is a wonderful spot to rest, picnic and play. Watch for the tiny Dipper bird which flies low and plunges in and out of the cascading water.

Lake Siskiyou
No matter what the weather is like, Lake Siskiyou offers a wonderful place to walk. I especially love the meadow area off the North Shore Rd. in early spring before it becomes popular for sunbathers, picnickers and fishermen. The north shore area is quite extensive, so there is always a peaceful place to walk west of the meadow area. The view of the mountain reflected in the lake is particularly spectacular at dawn and dusk from the swimming beach at Lake Siskiyou Campground on the other side of the lake. There is a charge per person to enter the campground, but the view is worth the money! To reach the north shore area of Lake Siskiyou, take Lake Street in Mt. Shasta City over the freeway overpass to the stop sign. Turn left, and continue on Old Stage Rd. to the Y in the road. Stay to the right on W.A.Barr Rd. Go past the Shasta Brown Ranch B&B about 1/2 mile to the North Shore Rd. Turn right and continue on the dirt road, keeping to the right until you reach a parking area on your left. This is the meadow area. From here you can explore up and down the lakeshore. Parking further down the road is available, but undeveloped. Be sure not to drive onto the meadow.

To reach another great access to the lake, continue down W.A.Barr Road past the Box Canyon Dam. Park across the road from the Castle Lake turnoff, and walk down the dirt road to the lake's edge. Lake Siskiyou Campground is further around the lake on W.A.Barr Rd.

Hedge Creek Falls: Dunsmuir
The lovely little waterfall called Hedge Creek Falls, was nearly lost to us during the construction of the freeway. When Dunsmuir residents complained bitterly, the roadway was moved, making necessary a huge cut in the hills just north of Dunsmuir. Parking and access to Hedge Creek Falls is at the north Dunsmuir I-5 interchange. The trail begins to the right of a picturesque gazebo. It is only about 500 feet to the falls, but the trail includes steps and steep slopes, so please watch your step. Lava from Mount Shasta flowed into this area many thousands of years ago. The Sacramento River cut a path through this basaltic rock, and tiny Hedge Creek spills over the lip of the ancient lava flow, splashing through space to a pool below.

Lava from Mount Shasta flowed into this area many thousand years ago. The Sacramento River has cut a path through this basaltic rock, and tiny Hedge Creek spills over the lip of the ancient lava flow, splashing through space to a pool below. You will see how the gentle waters, over time, have cut a groove in the solid rock, and learn about the power hidden in a tiny creek.

Headwaters of the Sacramento River
The Mt. Shasta City Park is the site for the headwaters of California's mighty Sacramento River. Even in the driest years, waters from this plentiful spring gush endlessly from a mossy rock face. The park is often busy with children playing and families picnicking, but the area around the headwaters spring retains an almost cathedral-like peace. Walk along the creek and follow footpaths that meander across small bridges through hedges of horsetail fern and fragrant willow. Expect to get your feet wet as you edge near the sparkling waters to harvest wild watercress for your dinner salad.

Mossbrae Falls: Dunsmuir
Mossbrae is a very wide, beautiful waterfall cascading over a hillside of brilliant green moss, ferns and flowers and into the pristine Sacramento River below. It is a magnificently awe inspiring sight and well worth the the effort made to get there. So bring a lunch and stay awhile. From downtown Dunsmuir, drive north on Dunsmuir Avenue to Scarlet Way. (Look for the large bronze arch marking Shasta Retreat.) Cross the bridge and railroad tracks to the parking area. The trail to Mossbrae Falls goes north along the gravel right-of-way for the railroad tracks. During the one-plus mile walk to and from the falls, expect to encounter at least one train. You will be able to hear the engines for several minutes before you see them, which will give you plenty of time to step to the side where you will be safe. Keep to the outside instead of against the rock face. It is quite exciting being so near to a moving train, and a distinct contrast to the peace and beauty of the falls...the destination of your hike.

Castle Lake & Hart Lake
Castle Lake is a lovely high mountain wonder, with rocky cliffs on the south face, and wild azaleas growing near the water's edge on the north. To reach Castle Lake, turn onto Castle Lake Road just past the dam at Lake Siskiyou, south of Mt. Shasta City. Castle Lake has been discovered by summertime campers, fishermen and swimmers, but always has space for solitary meditation. Ambitious hikers can follow the trail along the east side of the lake to heart-shaped Hart Lake nestled in the cliffs high above. This trail is steep but well-maintained, and the rewards of alpine meadows and vistas are worth the effort! Snow often lasts in this area until June. The historic Pacific Crest Trail traverses the ridge above Castle Lake, in case you're inspired to hike on north to Canada.

Headwaters of the Sacramento River
The Mount Shasta City Park is the site for the headwaters of California's mighty Sacramento River. Even in the driest years, water from this plentiful spring gushes endlessly from a mossy rock face at the base of a hill. There are stories of Native American sacred ceremonies and celebrations that occured here many years ago. The park is often busy with children playing and families picnicking, but the area around the headwaters spring retains an almost cathedral-like peace. People come here to fill their water bottles up with some of the best drinking water in the state. Others come to drink in the natural serenity and beauty of the spring and the rushing waterfall.

Walk along the creek, cross a wooden bridge and follow footpaths that meander across small bridges through hedges of horsetail fern and fragrant willow...a great place for quiet contemplation. Orange Tiger lilies can be seen in the early Summer months adding a striking contrast to the myriad shades of surrounding green. Edible wild watercress grows in abundance in the shallow streams beds.

The Squaw Valley Trail
This brand new trail located south of the town of McCloud follows Squaw Creek through wooded areas and meadows rich with wildflowers. The Mt. Shasta Trail Association suggests that you hike the first two miles only, as there is abundant poison oak on the section still under construction.

To reach the trail, take Hwy 89 to McCloud. Turn right on Squaw Valley Road, the main McCloud intersection. Drive approximately 5-1/4 miles to Cabin Creek Road just past Friday's Retreat. Turn right here and go just over 2 miles to a large concrete bridge. Cross the bridge and park in the Forest Service parking lot. To find the trailhead, walk down to the creek. In less than 1/4 mile you will come to a lovely bridge that crosses a chasm. The Pacific Crest Trail connects at this point. Follow the signs to stick to the Squaw Valley Trail, or you may find yourself treking north to Canada on the famed Pacific Crest route.

Walk Softly on the Earth
Please show respect when visiting any of these sites. Leave no trace of yourself behind. Use common sense to insure your safety at all times. The user of this guide assumes all risks and responsibilities when visiting these places.

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all writing © Joanne Steele
all artwork © Kim Solga
E-mail to kim.solga@gmail.com