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Shasta-Trinity National Forests

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Shasta-Trinity National Forests Overview

It's a good thing Teddy Roosevelt had the vision and foresight to protect American forests such as Shasta-Trinity. That’s because you won’t find the kind of solitude the forest’s granite peaks and cliffs, canyons, glaciers, rock pinnacles, and reflective lakes offer inside any of California's suburban malls. T.R. set aside Shasta and Trinity as separate national forests way back in 1905 and 1907, respectively; in 1954, their administrations were merged. Here, the earth is raw and visceral. Its power is palpable. As Mount Shasta looms in the distance, a plume of sulfurous smoke serves as a reminder of the awesome energy that lies hidden beneath the surface. At 14,161 feet, it is the second highest volcano in the Cascade Range.

When T.R. famously uttered, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” perhaps he was referring to a big hiking stick. Hikers can explore a labyrinth of trails that meander through the forest. More than 1,400 miles of trails carve their way through Shasta-Trinity. Many of the trails are protected by a natural canopy of cedar trees, ponderosa pine, pacific dogwood, black cottonwood, and pacific yews. On the forest floor, hikers will occasionally find themselves flanked by deerbrush, snowbrush, and California lilacs, which form dense brushfields along California's sun-drenched slopes.

Hike along the Pacific Crest Trail
The triple crown of American hiking includes the Pacific Crest Trail—the 2,600-mile route between Canada and Mexico cuts across the forest for 154 miles in an east-west direction from the Lassen National Forest near Lake Britton to the Klamath National Forest near Virginia Lake. The breathtaking views of Mount Shasta, Castle Crags, and the Trinity Alps along the trail cause hikers to fall to their knees in sheer awe.

More on hiking in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Spot Beavers, Bobcats, and Bald Eagles
You don't need a bionic eye to spot wildlife in this forest—it is home to an estimated 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Wildlife includes blacktail deer, ringtail cat, raccoon, beaver, striped skunk, black bear, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, and fox. Birds in the forest include: the bald eagle, osprey, owls, hawks, falcons, western tanagers, killdeer, nuthatches, great blue herons, kingfishers, and a wide variety of songbirds.

Fish for Salmon in Grizzly Creek
Grab your fishing pole—the lakes and streams of the Shasta-Trinity National Forests are a haven for the angling enthusiast. Alpine lakes within the forest including Boulder, Canyon Creek, East Fork, Ell, Forbidden, Grizzly, Lois, and Papoose contain a variety of brook, rainbow, and brown trout. Hundreds of miles of clear, cold running streams provide anglers with an opportunity to catch native rainbow trout, steelhead, silver salmon, and king salmon. Some good streams to try include Canyon Creek, Grizzly Creek, North Fork Trinity River, Trinity River, New River, and French Creek.

Shoot the Rapids on the Trinity River
If you paddle a canoe, raft, or kayak down the Trinty River, you will soon find yourself in a sluice of swift water that shoots through steep canyon walls. Over 100 miles of rivers on the Shasta-Trinity National Forests have been designated as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Embark on a Wilderness Adventure
Tired of civilization? Within the boundaries of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, you'll find all or portions of five Wilderness Areas: Castle Crags (11,200 acres), Chanchelulla (8,300 acres), Mount Shasta (38,200 acres), Trinity Alps (517,500 acres), and Yolla Bolla-Middle Eel (155,000 acres). Within each wilderness, you'll wander through impressive stands of pine including ponderosa, Jeffrey, digger, and knobcone. Like the wines of northern California, fir trees in the forest include California red and California white.

Splash around in Whiskeytown
You won't find any moonshine in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (NRA), but you will find plenty of sunshine. The California sun illuminates three beautiful lakes for swimming, boating, water-skiing, scuba diving, and fishing. The area is surrounded by mountainous backcountry that boast the impressive Shasta Bally at an elevation of 6,209 feet.

Cruise the Views
It's not easy for drivers to keep their eyes on the road along the Trinity Scenic Byway—people call it the most beautiful drive in Northern California. See it for yourself and let us know if it's true. One hundred and twelve of the 120 miles of this byway lie within Shasta-Trinity along California Highway 299 West. Digger pine and steep rocky slopes flank this awe-inspiring route, which snakes its way through the forest as elevations range from 2,000 feet to 6,500 feet.

Snowboard Down a Volcano
At the Mount Shasta Board and Ski Park, snowboarders and skiers can cascade down a dormant, but not dead, volcano. Don't worry—the volcano hasn't erupted since around 1786. Snowboarders can try out the park's machine-carved half pipes, as well as other sculpted terrain like quarter pipes, tabletops, rolls, and jumps. Three triple chair lifts take you to the top; 31 trails get you back down.

Bike the Circle of Mount Shasta
Take a ride on the 50-mile loop that circles Mount Shasta in a counterclockwise direction. Along the way, you'll see glaciers on the volcano's eastern slope and lava flow in the valley. Mountain biking in the Shasta Cascade is a fat-tire fiesta—both Shasta-Trinity and Whiskeytown NRA offer biking trails of varying difficulty.

More on biking in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

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