DESTINATION: Lake Siskiyou
NEAREST TOWN: Mount Shasta, CA
ELEVATION: 3,586 feet
VEHICLE: 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer
TRAILER: 2016 Jayco Jayflight 174BH
DISTANCE TRAVELED: 135 miles
WEATHER: Clear, dry, and sunny
TEMP RANGE: low 29º – high 82º
DATE ARRIVED: Thursday April 22nd
DATE DEPARTED: Wednesday May 5th
#3 LAKE SISKIYOU • MT SHASTA, CA
4/22/21 Driving day from Oregon to California through the very windy and difficult Siskiyou Summit pass. I thought we might never make it to the top of that mountain!
4/23/21 Up early to explore the town of Mount Shasta, get groceries, and fill propane.
4/24/21 Drove along the Sacramento River and saw fields of Indian Warrior flowers. Headed up to Mount Shasta but the roads were mostly closed (unplowed). Walked a bit along the Gateway Trail.
4/25/21 Visited Castle Lake, elevation 5,440, in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Even in the spring it was still spectacularly covered in ice and snow.
4/26/21 Isabella spent all morning training squirrels to eat out of her hand. Finally, our favorite "Fat Gus" took the bait!
4/27/21 Errands day. Tried to get an oil change but there wasn't anything available in town. Car wash, schoolwork, emails, and ice cream rewards. It's beginning to get warmer.
4/28/21 Visited Castle Crags State Park, which felt like a lot like visiting Mt. Rushmore but without the presidential feel.
4/29/21 Drove to town to pick up a delivery package and get breakfast donuts.
4/30/21 Saw a bear running across the road! Matt and Isabella saw the whole bear, but I only saw it's butt run into the woods. Does that still count?!? Isabella began making sun prints.
5/1/21 Very windy today. Isabella sat in her day tent to have a video call with her friends.
5/2/21 Kayaking on Lake Siskiyou for a couple of hours. Very very sore. I'm an old lady.
5/3/21 Saw deer in the campground a few sites over. There are few people around and they must have felt safe... or heard through the woodland grapevine that a young girl was giving away free nuts to the squirrels. ;)
5/4/21 Last full day. Kayaking again since it might be a while before we get another chance.
5/5/21 Moving day to Sacramento.
Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort is a very large park, which at times can feel crowded but most sites have ample space to set up and move around. We chose a loop with full hookups and a pull-through, but several other loops are available without a sewer connection (only E+W). California limits campground stays to 14 days, so we maxed out our time with 9 days at site #284 and the remaining 5 days across the "road" at site #282.
This particular resort offers great amenities, including waterfront beach access, a large marina and boat launch, kayak and boat rentals, a general store for essentials, a small video arcade and playground, and nightly movies on a big screen TV. A restaurant is also on-site, but was closed during our stay. Plenty of washroom buildings are sprinkled throughout the park with decent showers, along with a single laundry facility with credit card machines near the marina.
The trip across the Oregon to California state line is directly through the Siskiyou Mountains. Interstate 5 traverses the mountains with two curvy and steep lanes in each direction for a total of about 50 miles. The distance from Ashland, OR to Hornbrook, CA is especially precarious, as this passage of about 24 miles gives way to 6% grades and steep elevation changes in each direction. You may be so focused on driving that you'd miss the sign announcing a particular point which is the highest elevation of the entire interstate. If we'd been driving along in our trusty Old Red without pulling the trailer, I don't think either of us would have worried much, but the steep grade really adds anxiety when pulling a load.
Mount Shasta certainly is the highlight of this area. It is a potentially active volcano at the southern end of the Cascade Mountain Range. At an elevation of 14,179 feet, it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in the state of California. Many people believe the mountain holds mystical and spiritual power. We visited in the early spring before the roads were fully plowed, so the end of the road was the Bunny Flat Trail. We chose to drive back down the main road to a foothill trail called the Gateway Trail.
Castle Lake is a wonderful and easily accessible stop, with campgrounds and trails available for longer stays. We actually drove up twice a few days apart and had different experiences each time. First, on a warm afternoon, the lake was partially frozen and the parking area was easily traversed, but the second visit was later at dusk, and we found the entire area covered in snow.
More than 170 million years old, the 6000' granite spires of Castle Crags State Park are a short drive down I-5 from the Mount Shasta area. The park has campsites and miles of hiking trails.
Beautiful Lake Siskiyou is a reservoir formed by Box Canyon Dam on the Sacramento River. It offers breathtaking views of Mount Shasta, swimming, kayaking, and fishing. A hiking loop around the entire lake is possible thanks to a walking bridge over the wagon creek inlet completed in 2010.
• Our favorite new trees in this area were the California incense cedar and greenleaf manzanita. California incense cedar is a species of conifer native to western North America. It is the most widely known species in the genus, and is often simply called 'incense cedar' without the regional qualifier. Manzanita is an evergreen shrub present in the chaparral biome of western North America. It's characterized by smooth orange or red bark and stiff twisting branches. Manzanitas bloom in the early spring and carry edible berries in spring and summer which resemble small apples (hence the Spanish name).
• As we move from state to state, we love to investigate the new birds flying by, and California did not disappoint! Our campground was simply overrun with juncos, but we also caught sight of white-headed woodpeckers and early morning quail. Our days were also filled with the coos of mourning doves and chickadees inviting us with "cheeeese-burger!" or "teeeeaaa kettle!" depending on which you prefer. Dozens of California ground squirrels foraged in the surrounding area.
• For fun activities at this stop, we chose two new projects. First, we brought along a Toysmith Solar Print kit which included a dozen blue "sun sheets" and a few templates and card making pieces. We didn't use any of the included template items, and opted instead to go fully natural with leaves, pine needles, and other found materials. A few didn't turn out very well due to overcast skies, but most of them were great! This was a very fun activity and we've already picked up a refill kit.
• Our second craft project was inspired by pinterest posts. Thanks to our trip to Castle Crags State Park, we found an assortment of black oak acorns, which Isabella glued into a little acorn person! Our backdrop included a bed of pine needles and Jeffrey pine cones. Shhhh, he's sleeping.....
Bell's Eyewitness Report