Mount Shasta – add it to your California bucket list! This gorgeous area has breathtaking views every which way you look. I spent four days here in May hiking various trails, admiring the views of the lakes and mountains, and camping under the stars. It was a fantastic spring trip and one that I recommend everyone in California take at least once in their lifetime.
In this blog post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Mount Shasta, share with you my experiences there, and provide a few tips around the best trails and campsites on offer. Before I get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself and what inspired my passion for travel and adventure.
I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, just north of Green Bay. I lived in Wisconsin for 24 years where I completed my undergrad in exercise science. Then I moved down to Florida to be with my then-boyfriend (now husband) who recently got stationed there (he’s in the military). We met on Spring Break in 2012 and did long-distance for three and a half years.
In Florida, I received my master’s degree in health administration and then the military moved us to California in 2019. Currently, I manage a physical therapy practice. I love my line of work but my passion has always been in travel. I started my blog in 2014 and use it as a platform to help share the beauty of not only the most iconic travel destinations in the world, but also every unique corner and unbeaten path in between.
My passion for traveling kicked off in the eighth grade when I took my first ever trip abroad. I traveled to Japan with a sister school program. I was traveling without my family and I remember feeling apprehensive about flying to the other side of the world, essentially alone at the young age of 13.
But that was a life changing trip and it made me realize at a young age that I crave experiences outside of my comfort zone. I yearn to see the different cultures that can be found when leaving your “home” and I have made travel a huge priority of mine during the past decade.
Ticking Mount Shasta off my Bucket List
My trip to Mount Shasta in May was my first time visiting this area and what a trip it was! As soon as I found out we were moving to California in 2019, I made a “California Bucket List” typed up in the notes section of my phone. I added several California trips that were already a dream of mine and I have continued to add to it the longer I have lived here.
Mount Shasta was added to my list early on. I had seen so many gorgeous images of the volcano from friends who had visited or just from doing my own research. Every holiday weekend, we try to pick a camping destination that is a further distance from us here on the central coast. The idea is to make the trip over several days and still be able to really take in the area.
Unfortunately due to COVID, a lot of the campsites were operating at half capacity or closed all together. But I did a search for campsites for the time we were trying to travel and Hayward Flat in the Shasta-Trinity Lake area popped up as available. Because I already knew that Mount Shasta was on my bucket list, I didn’t hesitate to reserve a site and make travel plans.
Fantastic Hiking Trails of Mount Shasta
We spent four days in the Mount Shasta area which was both enough time and not enough time, all at once. Four days gives you sufficient time to see the highlights and the beauty of the area without being rushed. But you could also easily spend a week or more here taking everything in.
We did a few hikes each day and my favorite trail (which I recommend to anyone who visits the area) was Heart Lake Trail from Castle Lake. The view from above the lake looking at Mount Shasta was stunning! The green colors, crystal-clear waters and snow capped mountains – it almost seemed impossible to have all of this beauty in one view. I didn’t want to leave.
There are so many great hikes in the area that it can be hard to decipher which ones are the best. Heart Lake Trail gives you the most bang for your buck. It offers gorgeous views of two lakes with a backdrop of Shasta.
Some other hikes that offer stunning views (but which require a lot more effort) are Four Lakes and Siligo Peak Loop, Granite Lake via Swift Creek Trail, and Eleanor and Shimmy Lakes. I recommend downloading the AllTrails app as it’s a lifesaver and it helps you stay on the correct trails!
Biggest Challenges of Hiking in this Area
Some of the hikes around Mount Shasta were relatively easy, but I will also say these have a direct correlation to the shade covering. My husband and I hike fairly often, and so we are up for some pretty intimidating hikes, but even by late-May the sun in Shasta was out in full force. When there wasn’t much shade coverage on offer, it made the hiking trails that much harder.
I suggest bringing lots of water – especially if you visit between May and October – and also it might be a good idea to hike earlier in the day if you can. The hikes can definitely be more difficult here than other parts of California, but in my opinion – the harder the hike, the bigger the reward!
The Camping Experience in Mount Shasta
The camping experience in Mount Shasta was enjoyable. Spending nights under those beautiful Sequoia trees was just incredible! This was a great destination for a camping trip because it offers a little bit of everything for avid campers: lakes, mountains and forests. We typically camp with a group of friends as well, so we are constantly making great memories.
If you decide to go camping in Mount Shasta, you can’t really go wrong with any campsite. Hayward Flat was a beautiful spot! But depending on what you want to do/where you want to hike, it can be a trek to get all the way to Mount Shasta itself. There is always the town of Mount Shasta that has some cute lodging if you are more inclined for a glamping experience.
Need to Know Before you Go
I always say “leave a place better than you found it” and that is my main advice for visitors to Mount Shasta. Be a decent human and know that these places are beautiful naturally, and that the human imprint can have a huge impact. Clean up after yourself, leave no trace, and respect nature and the wildlife. That way, Shasta can stay beautiful for years to come!