Our Community Treasure: The Lake Siskiyou Trail — Guest Opinion by Joe Wirth

The following was published in the February 18, 2015 edition of the Mt. Shasta Herald newspaper as a guest opinion.

The spring-like temperatures and sunshine last Saturday afternoon provided my wife and me with the perfect opportunity for a walk on the Lake Siskiyou Trail.

Apparently others felt the same urge, since we met up with families, dog walkers, bicyclists, runners, hand-holding couples and a lady with a cane, who impressed us both with her warm smile and cheerful greeting.

This experience reminded us that the Lake Siskiyou Trail is truly a community resource that has been created by a collaboration amongst community organizations, volunteers and Siskiyou County government.

As a result I felt inspired to share the information about its history, where the progress stands today, what remains to be done and our plans for the future.

The original idea for the Lake Siskiyou Trail came from Tom Hesseldenz, Mt. Shasta’s resident trail visionary.  He presented his idea to the relatively new-born Mt. Shasta Trail Association (MSTA) in the early 1990’s and got their agreement to proceed.

Over the next several years Tom worked with MSTA and the County to obtain grants to plan the trail and finally got the plan approved by Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors in the late 1990’s.  County Supervisor, Lavada Erickson, a major supporter from the beginning, was very helpful.

The initial trail work started about fourteen years ago and was led by the MSTA with strong support from Mt. Shasta Rotary and Mountain Runners.

Ironically, this initial work with much fanfare actually started in the campground area, which today is one of the unfinished portions of the trail

When my wife and I first came to Mt. Shasta, our initial volunteer work with MSTA was with Tom H. and others to establish the trail on the north shore of the lake and along Cold Creek on what is now the approach to the bridge.

After MSTA completed the initial trail work and the scope of the work and costs became more demanding, Siskiyou County took over leadership of the project.

The County obtained grant funds and contracted with a local company, Timberworks, to construct the spectacular Wagon Creek Bridge which was completed in 2010.

The County also added seasonal bridges at the delta on the north shore, widened the trail, added railings and rock reinforcements where needed, signs, smaller permanent bridges across ravines and the much used parking areas.

And now as we all know, the seven mile long Lake Siskiyou Trail is one of the most used trails in our area.

However, important segments of the trail remain unfinished. These include the section between the chalets and the lake, the trail through the campground; and ultimately a permanent bridge just upstream from the delta to replace seasonal bridges.

The MSTA has recently obtained agreement from the chalet owner, Mount Shasta Resort, to build the half mile trail along the lakeshore between the chalets and the lake.

MSTA is presently working with the County to get the necessary approvals for the trail. Work will begin this spring and will be done by MSTA volunteers, including a local contractor, at no cost to the County.

County Supervisor, Ed Valenzuela, has been a supporter to get this done. Many thanks to Ed and the County!

Next we will turn our attention to the campground.  Frankly, the most often heard complaint is “What happened to the trail through the campground? I got lost”.

This year we are committed to finding a way to work with the campground concessionaire, Reynolds Resorts, and the County to solve this problem.  Completing this section of the trail would be a true cause for celebration.

Finally, with partner organizations such as the Active Transportation Committee we envision connection of the Siskiyou Lake Trail to the Mount Shasta Greenway Trail starting from Spring Hill going through the Mt. Shasta City Park to downtown Mt. Shasta.

We also have a long term dream of connecting the Lake Trail to the Sisson- Callahan trail on the north shore.

To learn more about the work of MSTA please attend our Annual Meeting at the Sisson Museum on Wednesday March 4th starting at 6:00. We hope to see you there and on our trails.

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