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Get to Know

Mount Shasta

Explore Mount Shasta City

Mount Shasta (also known as Mount Shasta City) is a city in Siskiyou County, California, at about 3,600 feet (1,100 m) above sea level on the flanks of Mount Shasta, a prominent northern California landmark. The city is less than 9 miles (14 km) southwest of the summit of its namesake volcano. Its population is 3,223 as of the 2020 census, down from 3,394 from the 2010 census.

The Mountain


Soaring to 14,179 feet high, Mt. Shasta scrapes the turquoise-blue sky, north of Redding—acting as a totem from almost anywhere in the northern part of the state. And while some mountains climb gradually, this one rises from surrounding flatlands with such towering, snow-capped majesty that it seems almost unreal—like a child’s notion of what a mountain should be. Yet this is no childish vision—it’s a very real, very big volcano (last erupted in 1786). Famed naturalist John Muir wrote that his “blood turned to wine” when he first caught sight of the Fuji-esque peak.

Skiing and Mountaineering on Mt. Shasta


Mt. Shasta has long been on the bucket list of serious skiers and mountaineers. The esteemed book The Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America characterized the mountain as “…a skier’s mountain…with so many fantastic ski lines on its flanks that it’s difficult to say which ones are best.” The relative lack of crevasse hazards on most summit routes, coupled with generally mild springtime weather, makes it ideal for ski mountaineering. Summiting the mountain is for the hardiest of climbers; ask about guide services at The Fifth Season outdoor store in the town of Mt. Shasta, a New Age-y enclave on the mountain’s west side. (Get the town’s vibe at The Crystal Room, a prism-filled visual feast.)

During winter months, the low-key and local Mt. Shasta Ski Park, on the mountain’s western slope, is the go-to resort for the region. Of the 38 trails spread out over 2,038 vertical feet, 20 percent are beginner level, 45 percent are intermediate, and 35 percent are advanced, so there are multiple runs for every level of skier. Non-downhill-skiers can take advantage of locations for sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing (gear is available for rent at any one of the several stores in the area). The park even has backcountry cabins that can accommodate up to eight people so you can turn your daytime explorations into a cozy overnight adventure.

Summer, Spring, and Fall Activities on Mt. Shasta


Fortunately, you don’t have to bag the peak, or even have snow, to enjoy this alpine paradise.

Easy paths loop through wildflower-filled meadows and into cool forests, where you should keep an eye out for eagles and deer, and just might catch a glimpse of a black bear or two. One of the prettiest trails, a mellow two-mile path along the McCloud River on the mountains south, leads to a trio of waterfalls—all beautiful, though Middle Falls is the real head-turner. Cycling is also a huge draw, as the area offers some of the most stunning scenery and least crowded cycling routes—for both road and mountain biking—in the West. (Rental rides are available at Bike Shasta and Cycle Siskiyou.) There’s campingcaverns, and world-class fly-fishing too.

Know before you go: Most Mt. Shasta hiking trails are closed during winter months due to snow. To fish, a current California Fishing License is required.

Things to Do Near Mt. Shasta


In addition to Redding, there are several attractions that should be on your itinerary while in the region. Drive south less than 10 miles on Interstate 5 and you’ll pull into the mountain hamlet of Dunsmuir, home of top fly-fishing streams, a railroad museum, and the nearby Castle Crags State Park. Farther away but worth the 70-mile drive, especially in the warmer months, is Whiskeytown Lake, a 3,000 surface-acre reservoir of crystal-clear water that’s perfect for sailing, kayaking, fishing, and windsurfing. If you prefer to stay dry, admire it from the shore and hike to the 220-foot Whiskeytown Falls. About an hour’s drive to the east are the fascinating steam vents, mud pots, fumaroles, and Sulphur Works of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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The site of the present-day city of Mount Shasta was within the range of the Okwanuchu tribe of Native Americans. During the 1820s, early Euro-American trappers and hunters first passed through the area, following the path of the Siskiyou Trail.

The Siskiyou Trail was based on a network of ancient Native American footpaths connecting California and the Pacific Northwest. The discovery of gold at nearby Yreka, California in 1851 dramatically increased traffic along the Siskiyou Trail and through the site of present-day Mount Shasta. Pioneer Ross McCloud built one of the first lumber mills in the area, near the site of the present Sisson Museum. The completion of a stagecoach road between Yreka and Upper Soda Springs in the late 1850s led to the building of Sisson's Hotel, as a stop for weary travelers, and as a staging ground for adventuresome tourists intending to climb Mount Shasta.


The area where the town grew was known first as Strawberry Valley, and then as Berryvale. The post office opened in 1870 as Berryvale. After 1886 it was known as Sisson after a local businessman, Justin Hinckley Sisson who ran a stagecoach inn and tavern as well as donated the land for the town site and the Central Pacific Railroad station in 1886.  Street names honor members of Sisson's family.


The 1887 completion of the Central Pacific Railroad, built along the line of the Siskiyou Trail, brought a dramatic increase in tourism, lumbering, and population into Mount Shasta. This early development continued to focus on tourism and lumbering. The early 1900s saw the influx of a large number of Italian immigrants to Mount Shasta and neighboring towns, most of whom were employed in the timber industry.


The city incorporated on May 31, 1905


Mount Shasta to the east forces moisture out of the air as it rises and cools, and the dip in the Klamath Mountains allows more moisture to reach inland, so the city receives more precipitation than the semiarid region to the north. This means that in the winter, the city gets nearly 103 inches or 2.62 metres of snowfall despite its low 3,600 feet (1,100 m) elevation

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