Trail Association Helps Keep Castle Crags Open


News Release

Trail Association Helps Keep Castle Crags Open


Mt. Shasta, October 22 – The Mt. Shasta Trail Association (MSTA) is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to help keep Castle Crags State Park open for public use and enjoyment.

The Trail Association and State Parks recently signed a Donor Agreement in which $10,000 of MSTA funds will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Parks for maintenance, operation and revenue generation activities at Castle Crags.  These funds originally were collected by the now inactive Castle Crags Interpretive Association. The funds may only be spent at Castle Crags, and not used at any other state park unit.

This opportunity was an outgrowth of last year’s budget crisis that forced the State to look at closing selected park units across California.  Unfortunately, Castle Crags was targeted as one of the units slated for closure and was closed for a portion of time.

In response to the crisis, Assembly Bill 1478 was passed to facilitate agreements between partners and State Parks and to create contingency funds to operate specific park units.  The State Parks contributions are from the recently discovered surplus of $54 million dollars held “off-budget.”  The disclosure of these funds resulted in the resignation of Director Ruth Coleman and the appointment of Major General Anthony L. Jackson to lead the agency.  The donor agreement is signed by Major General Jackson and MSTA president John Schuyler.

Supervisory State Park Ranger Brett Mizeur is working with the MSTA to identify projects that would tap into the contingency funds.  Currently, they are looking at the following:

  • Repair of the Indian Creek Nature Trail, including a trail bridge and update of its interpretive brochure;
  • Replacement of worn-out trail signs and installation of new signs to facilitate trail use and reduce the number of lost hikers;
  • Reconnaissance of trail conditions looking for maintenance needs;
  • Hiring of seasonal workers to conduct maintenance and revenue generation activities; and
  • Publication of various park maps and brochures.

The agreement will be implemented through June of 2015.

Day Hike Into The Castle Crags Wilderness Followed By Storytelling At The Sisson Museum — Sunday July 21, 2013

Free Day Hike to Castle Lake

Explore the spectacular Castle Crags Wilderness with KS Wild this Sunday, July 21.

What: Day Hike to Castle Lake
When: Sunday, July 21 10:30am-4:30pm
Where: Carpool meets at the Berryvale Market at 10:30am.
Cost: Free!

We will start at Castle Lake and hike the Castle Lake Trail to visit Heart Lake and Little Castle Lake. The hike will be moderate, between 3-4 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We’ll seek out high-elevation wildflowers and scenic views.

Please bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, layers, plenty of water and a lunch. You can also bring a camera, binoculars, a swim suit and your favorite field guide if you wish.

Call Morgan at (541) 488-5789 or email to sign up for the hike!

Klamath-Siskiyou Storytelling at the Sisson Museum

Join KS Wild for an evening of friends, food, and stories in celebration of the ancient forests, clear streams, and wildlife of the Klamath-Siskiyou. We’ll hear tales of twisted geology, fire ecology, wolves, bigfoot and more!

What: Klamath-Siskiyou Storytelling
Where: Mount Shasta Sisson Museum, 1 N. Old Stage Rd, Mt. Shasta City
When: Sunday, July 21 from 6:00-7:30pm
Cost: Free!

Call Morgan at (541) 488-5789 or email to learn more and RSVP.



Castle Crags Dome Trail Hike, Saturday June 8, 2013 (Updated May 27, 2013)


The Castle Crags State Park has been reopened!! The Mount Shasta Trail Association invites the public on a strenuous and sometimes steep, 5.5 mile round-trip hike to the sky scraping granite spires called the Castle Crags scheduled for Saturday, June 8th.

The elevation gain is 2200 feet. Participants will first walk through the forest to Indian Springs and then hike out in the open, amid the granite slabs and pinnacles where the postcard views of Mt. Shasta and the Crags become more and more spectacular.

Castle Crags are actually part of the Klamath Mountains, not the Cascade Range, and are much older. They were formed by granitic magma slowly cooling underground (as a “pluton”) and subsequently became exposed at the surface through uplifting and erosion.

This is the same way that the granites of Yosemite formed. In fact, the Klamath Mountains broke off from the Sierra Nevada about 60 million years ago. Mount Shasta, in contrast, was formed by relatively recent surface eruptions (within the last several million years), and its rock is andesite (a type of basalt).

Hikers will meet at  111 Morgan Way in Mount Shasta, in front of the Best Western Tree House Motor Inn at 9 am and carpool to Castle Crags State Park. Note, this is a new meeting place since this event was first announced.  Bring lunch and water and expect to return about 4:30 pm. Pets are not permitted on this trail.

For further information contact Joan Roemer 926-0647.

Mount Shasta Trail Association 2011 Highlights

Here’s what Mount Shasta Trail Association president Joe Wirth said about the many MSTA accomplishments for 2011 during our recent annual meeting. He discusses the importance of partnerships and how that has been relevant to much of MSTA’s work.

Joe Wirth’s Comments

If I were to choose one word that characterizes the Mt. Shasta Trail Association’s accomplishments in 2011 it would be PARTNERSHIPS. What do I mean when I say that?  Quite simply, when we review all of the projects we’ve been involved in, our PARTNERSHIPS were the consistent reason we were able to get things done.  And in 2012 one of our primary goals will be to continue to build and strengthen our partnerships.

Here in our small community, which has seen some tough economic times over the past months, we see building strong relationships and partnerships as a cost effective way to significantly expand our resources and everyone wins.

Here are three concrete examples of our current  PARTNERSHIPS: The Gateway Trail, The Hedge Creek Falls to Mossbrae Falls Trail, and the work being done to keep Castle Crags State Park open.

The Gateway Trail Project

Let’s start building the case for partnerships by looking at the Gateway Trail project. This has been a PARTNERSHIP between MSTA and the Forest Service plus the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and a number of local mountain bikers. CA State Parks and Recreation Department has also been involved and been a major source of funds to build the trail.

Each of these groups and organizations I mentioned played an important role and without all of these groups working together, especially the Forest Service, the project could not have moved forward at all.

As we think about the future of the Gateway Trail and how to make Mt. Shasta a destination for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians it is clear that creating a strong relationship with IMBA is very important and has great economic benefits for the Mt. Shasta area.

Hedge Creek to Mossbrae Falls Trail

Now let’s move on to our second example, Mossbrae Falls.  Mossbrae Falls has long been a popular destination for hikers in this area and the only way to get there is to hike along the railroad tracks. Those of you who have taken this hike know that there are several places where meeting an oncoming train presents a serious problem.  If you’ve been there you seen the steep bank down to the river on one side a high embankment on the other with not enough distance from the railroad tracks to feel comfortable. But many folks every year have decided that the risk is worth the reward.

However, this past November the feared accident did occur. A woman did not succeed in getting far enough out of the way and was hit in the head by a locomotive. Surprisingly, she was not killed and is expected to recover fully over time. That’s the good news. But clearly this shows that beyond the shadow of doubt the time has come to fix this problem

Before this event we began working in with the Dunsmuir City Manager, Union Pacific Railroad, and the St. Germain Foundation to create a trail to Mossbrae Falls that would branch off from the existing Hedge Creek Falls Trail and cross what is now St. Germain property. This is the first time that the railroad and St. Germain Foundation have been willing to consider this idea.

The plan is to obtain funding to purchase St. Germain land that would then be owned by the City of Dunsmuir and build a trail on that land. To that end we obtained a $10,000 grant from the Union Pacific Foundation and used the money to lay out the trail, survey the land (5.35) where the trail would located and get a appraisal of land value. We are currently negotiating with St. Germain Foundation on a purchase price for the land and hope to find a mutually acceptable answer in the next few months.

I have hiked the proposed trail route with Tom Hesseldenz and others and it is very scenic trail that winds down a steep hillside with numerous springs to the level of the river and to the falls. We will work hard to take advantage of the opportunity to resolve this safety hazard forever and create a hiking attraction for this area.

As you’ve listened to this, I hope you’ll agree that the Mossbrae Falls project clearly illustrates the power of partnership and it’s importance, not only for the community but, in this case, especially for trail users.

Castle Crags State Park

Finally, I would like to talk about one of our most publicized park and trail challenges, the proposed closing of Castle Crags State Park, because the progress we’ve made to date, once again exemplifies the power of partnership.

On May 23, 2011 CA Department of Parks and Recreation announced the planned closure of 70 State Parks including Castle Crags. Shortly after that announcement the Mt. Shasta Trail Association began working with Parks and Recreation, the Castle Crags Interpretative Association and recently with the Bioregional Ecology Center to find a way to keep the park open or at the very least to keep the trails accessible and in good condition.

Here’s where we are: We have negotiated an agreement with State Parks and Recreation that will allow us to work on trails within the park to provide trail maintainance and promote educational and interpretative activities around the trails. Since Castle Crags Interpretive Association’s contract with State Parks expired at the end of 2011 they have transferred most of their funds from activities in the park to MSTA and we have put those funds in a separate account earmarked for use only within Castle Crags. Specifically here’s how this will work:

  • Our agreement with the state includes a listing of trail projects for use of these funds.

We will most certainly need a corps of volunteers to work on Castle Crags trails this year and into the future. There us a volunteer signup sheet in the back for those of you interested in working in Castle Crags

  • Trails are only a portion of the Castle Crags operation and recently the Bioregional Ecology Center has become involved to find a way to keep the park completely in operation and they are actively working to mobilize community support for the park.
  • We are working with them to develop short and long term plans for keeping the park in operation – while State Parks is continuing to work on new models for park operation that narrow the gap between park costs and revenues.

The planned closure date of July 1st is rapidly approaching. Keeping the park open is important economically and for the quality of life in the communities of south Siskiyou County. Now is the time to come together individually and as organizations to keep Castle Crags open.  Now is the time for us to show the power of partnerships

Finally, I hope you’ll leave here tonight an advocate for teamwork and partnerships, if you’re not already, and that having heard the progress reports on the Gateway Trail, Mossbrae Falls Trail and Castle Crags project, you too are now convinced of the power of working together.

Your Thoughts…

Please share your thoughts and ideas about these issues and any others you think relevant to the mission of the Mount Shasta Trail Association in the comments below.

What You Can Do to Help Castle Crags State Park Open

As we know, Castle Crags State Park is currently closed. The Mount Shasta Trail Association, the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, and other groups and concerned individuals are working together to formulate a plan to open the park, at least for the months in and around summer when the park gets the most use.

How You Can Help

There are several things you can do, from writing letters to signing petitions to volunteering to help with committees working on a solution.

Go to this page at the Bioregional Ecology Center site for all the details:

Help Open Castle Crags State Park: Attend This Meeting on Thursday!

The Mount Shasta Trail Association, the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, and many other groups and individuals are working hard to reopen Castle Crags State Park.

But we need your help and your input.

There’s a very important public meeting at Sisson Museum in Mount Shasta at 5:30 PM this Thursday, February 16. There will be updates on current efforts and plans and ample opportunity for you to voice your concerns and share your ideas.

This meeting will be covered by local and regional media and it will have a substantial impact on local and state law-makers and bureaucrats. We need you there!

Please share this post and this information any way you can: e-mail, Facebook, etc.

On the trail to Castle Dome in Castle Crags State Park.
On the trail to Castle Dome in Castle Crags State Park.

MSTA and Efforts to Keep Castle Crags State Park Open

The Mount Shasta Trail Association is closely involved with efforts to keep Castle Crags State Park open. A recent article in the Mount Shasta Herald discusses actions of MSTA, the Castle Crags Interpretive Association, and other groups to develop plans to ensure access to the park’s hiking trails and other recreational facilities.

Read the article here.

Thoughts on Closure of Castle Crags State Park

by Joe Wirth, President of the Mount Shasta Trail Association

On Saturday, June 18th, I was one of fifteen hikers from the Mt. Shasta Trail Association visiting Castle Crags State Park. Our destination was the base of Castle Dome to experience its well known panoramic view, but along the way the skyline, filled by the surrounding mountains, made a memorable impression of its own. As we reached the top of the trail, Mt. Shasta and its indescribable beauty simply dominated! Our group agreed this is “the” best place to lunch, and the trail is just plain fun. You can enjoy the extraordinary view, breathe the mountain air, and experience a feeling of pure openness and freedom. But I’m concerned.

Since our hike I have confirmed that there are plans for Castle Crags to close in July of 2012. In other words, the experiences our hiking group had may no longer be possible starting next year. Public access to this gem of a state park will be limited or denied altogether. It is a loss for all of us. We should not allow it to happen!

The rationale for our loss is to save money in the state budget; $11million in the first year and $22 million in the second by closing seventy state parks including Castle Crags and others in northern California. When I examine this rationale, it appears that very little long term thought has gone into the idea. There is no strategic plan for closing these parks and there appears to be limited understanding of the cost impact, either at the state or local levels. A recent panel discussion on KIXE made it very clear to quote one of the participants “we are making this up as we go along”. As stewards of these extraordinary public parks we deserve better! To save these treasures, we must all make a personal decision to become actively involved and make our views known to those who represent us locally and in Sacramento.

At the state level there seems to be no consideration given to the fact that while park closure makes all the revenues go away, it does not make the costs disappear. There are ongoing costs for maintenance of equipment, facilities and forests and for dealing with the vandalism and theft that are inevitable. These latter things are more than hypothetical since they occur now even when park rangers are present and can act to minimize their effects. When rangers are no longer present only bad outcomes will follow and get worse over the years. The real cost savings are likely to be significantly smaller than projected. And, at the state level where budget problems are in the billions, the results will be little more than a speck of dust. A very corrosive speck!

Let’s examine the impact of next July’s projected closure of Castle Crags on our south Siskiyou County businesses. Estimates from studies on the impact of state parks on local economies have found that for every dollar spent in the park, an average of $2.67 is spent in the surrounding communities. In the case of Castle Crags this amounts to over $300,000 annually from the 70,000 visitors who come to the park each year. While Dunsmuir will be most affected, Mt. Shasta, Weed and McCloud will also experience economic losses. This is hardly a time to inflict damage on local economies that are already struggling.

What can we do?

(1) Each of us can make our views known to our state and local representatives by taking the time to write letters, make calls and when possible talk directly to: the governor and lieutenant governor , the leaders of the state legislature, our local representatives to the state legislature and the head of California Parks and Recreation. Please know that I’m not usually a letter writer either, but faced with our imminent losses, I’m willing to become proactive.

(2) We can ask our local city council members to pass resolutions opposing the closure of Castle Crags. Our community should not allow this to simply slide by and do nothing to prevent the damage that will occur. Complaining after the fact will not help.

While we are actively opposing these park closures, we completely support developing a well thought out plan which we feel is essential before proposing and taking any action. For example: Can fees be modestly increased without seriously impacting park usage? (Fees are not taxes since use of park facilities is voluntary.) Can volunteer organizations contribute more? (Yes, but we do not believe that volunteer organizations can successfully operate a state park. However, they can and do take on well-defined tasks and special projects under the supervision of park rangers.) Is there an increased role for concessionaires? (Maybe. In my opinion the idea that private operators can always do a job better and more cheaply than government while making an acceptable profit is not automatically true.) Is there a possible partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, especially in a park like Castle Crags that is surrounded by Forest Service land including a wilderness area? (An idea worth investigating)

Finally, to you determined readers who have made it this far, please take some time to make your views known and take an active role in protecting this place, our home– “where heaven and earth meet.”

Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol
Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
State Capitol
Suite 1114
Sacramento, CA 95814

Speaker of the Assembly
John A. Perez
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0046

Senate President pro Tem
Darrell Steinberg
State Capitol
Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

Director Ruth Coleman
Dept of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296

Doug La Malfa
State Capitol
Room 3070
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001

Assembly Member Jim Nielsen
State Capitol
Room 6031
Sacramento, CA 94249-0002

Mike Rodriguez
Mt. Shasta Recreation and Parks District
P.O. Box 314
Mt. Shasta, CA 965067

PCT Maintenance and Training in Castle Crags State Park, June 25, 2011

Summer is finally here – Are you ready to hit the trails?

It’s time to replace our winter boots, scarves, and mittens with hiking boots, hard hats and gloves! We’re ready to hit the trails and we would love for you join us! The Mount Shasta Trail Association and the Pacific Crest Trail Association invite you on a one-day trail maintenance and training session where we’ll learn about:

* Trail Safety
* Trail Maintenance Tools
* Terminology

We’ll apply our new knowledge to the Pacific Crest Trail by repairing tread and improving the corridor. This project is great for beginner’s and for those who are ready to get warmed up for a great trail maintenance season! In other words, all skill levels are welcome!

When: Saturday, June 25 from 9:00 am to 2:00ish pm

Where: Parking area at Soda Creek Road Exit (this is where the PCT crosses I-5 just north of the Castle Crags State Park entrance). Directions will be provided upon registration.

What to Bring: Volunteers will need to bring day packs, lunch, water, and work clothes (i.e. pants, sturdy boots). Safety gear and tools will be provided.

Fitness Requirement: This project is great for everyone! Volunteers will hike 1-2 miles throughout the day on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Positions Available: 10-12

Nearby attractions: Camping and hiking in Castle Crags State Park, fishing along the Sacramento River, and gazing at beautiful Mount Shasta!

To Register: Please contact Robert Francisco at or call (916) 955-8641.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on the Pacific Crest Trail!

Castle Crags Dome Trail Hike Saturday, June 18, 2011

Come join the Mount Shasta Trail Association on this strenuous and sometimes steep, 5.5-mile roundtrip hike to the sky scraping granite spires called the Castle Crags. The elevation gain is 2200 feet. We will first walk through the forest to Indian Springs and then hike out in the open, amid the granite slabs and pinnacles where the postcard views of Mt. Shasta and the Crags become more and more spectacular.

Castle Crags are actually part of the Klamath Mountains, not the Cascade Range that lies east and north, and are much older than the Cascades. Castle Crags formed by granitic magma slowly cooling underground (as a “pluton”) and subsequently became exposed at the surface through uplifting and erosion. This is the same way that the granites of Yosemite formed. In fact, the Klamath Mountains broke off from the Sierra Nevada about 60 million years ago. Mount Shasta, in contrast, was formed by relatively recent surface eruptions (within the last several million years), and its rock is andesite.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants should meet at 9 AM Saturday, June 18, 2011, in the fish hatchery parking lot to form carpools. The fish hatchery is located a quarter-mile west of the main Mount Shasta I-5 exit (the middle of the three) on the way to Lake Siskiyou.We will return about 4:30 pm. For further information contact Joan Roemer 926 0647.

Read more about the hike to Castle Dome here on Mount Shasta Trail Association Trails Guide.

MSTA board member John Soares hiking toward Castle Dome in about 1991 = "back in the day."
MSTA board member John Soares hiking toward Castle Dome in about 1991 = "back in the day."