For those of you on the fence about joining us tomorrow morning, we won’t be driving up the long, rough road to the Sisson Callahan Trail like 2 weeks ago. Instead, we’ll drive up North Shore Road and access the lower portion of Sisson Callahan by crossing the river (which I’m told has rather low flow). This will save us probably 30 minutes driving each way, 30 minutes walking, and will be easier on the vehicles. The weather should be cool and clear, so perfect working conditions. We will finish the project tomorrow!

Meet us at the parking lot just north of the Lake Siskiyou Dam at 9 for a fun-packed morning. Bring an iron rake if you have one (or a McCleod).


Castle Lake is one of the true gems of south Siskiyou County. This swimming, hiking, and kayaking destination has become extremely popular. It has pristine, deep waters, majestic rock formations, and scenic trails to several other lakes, including Heart Lake with its spectacular views.

The trail from Castle to Heart Lake, however, suffers from steep inclines and significant erosion. About halfway up, the trail diverges into a system of braided footpaths, confusing many visiting hikers and damaging sensitive plants.

The Wilderness Land Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization, recently acquired a privately owned parcel containing much of this trail. They will transfer the parcel to public land to be managed by the US Forest Service sometime in the next year or so to preserve it in perpetuity.

The Mount Shasta Trail Association has a unique opportunity in a brief window of time to improve and clearly identify the trail nearly all the way to Heart Lake. After the trail becomes public land, it will be more complicated and expensive to make these upgrades.

Please become a part of the effort to make the route from Castle Lake to Heart Lake easier, more sustainable, and better defined. Give a gift to nature and to all who want to enjoy this beautiful trail: donate on Giving Tuesday to MSTA for the Heart Lake Trail or donate on this website.


Thirty-one brave souls met at 9 am today, listened patiently to a boring job hazard analysis, and drove the long, ugly rock road (it’s not really gravel) up to the Sisson Callahan Trail where the USFS recently rerouted the trail. All participants worked their a**** off for about three hours in light rain, fine tuning the tread and improving drainage. New friends were made. There were about a dozen less-than-20-year-olds who worked like rented mules (kudos, parents, you’ve done something special). It was a fantastic morning. Many thanks to all who donated their Saturday to this popular trail. Special shoutout to Ed Almeter, who drove up from Chico to help!

By the way, we got so much done that we’re cancelling tomorrow’s (Sunday’s) work day.

Alyssa directs the troops
The next generation of trail stewards gettin’ after it.
Rain, dirt, mud? It’s all good. And who needs long pants?


Meet Mark Telegin.  Meet Mount Shasta City Park’s two newest bridges!  For years, Mark has wanted to complete this bridge over a low spot in “Big Springs Meadow” in Mt. Shasta’s City Park.  This winter drainage is on the northwest end of the park, right next to an old apple tree, along part of the beautiful park trail system maintained by volunteers from the Mount Shasta Trail Association.  The bridge not only improves the hiking experience for visitors to the park, but is built to handle the weight of tractors used for maintenance in the area. 

The second, smaller bridge, was built by Glenn Harvey, and is next to the maintenance shed in the lower area of the main part of the park.  This bridge provides maintenance access to the southern parts of the park.

Materials for the bridges were provided by a combination of private donations (by unnamed individuals such as Mark T******) and a District Grant provided by the Rotary Club of Mount Shasta.

Stop by City Park this fall to enjoy the always improving trail system!  City Park staff have also recently restricted parking near Big Springs, referred to as the Headwaters.  This helped relieve some of the parking congestion in the area nearest the springs.  Hope to see you there!


The US Forest Service just finished some heavy work to revise and reroute the Sisson Callahan Trail, but it needs some finish work by volunteers.

The Mount Shasta Trail Association, BikeShasta, Shasta Gravity Adventures, and Trail Labs Co are combining forces to sponsor the volunteer work this weekend. This is your chance to get out there, get dirty, and touch up a fantastic trail.

Here’s the plan:

  1. If it’s not raining significantly (we’ll work in light rain) and the AQI is < 100, we’ll meet in the parking lot just north of the Lake Siskiyou Dam at 9 am on Saturday, Oct 10. The address is 2400 WA Barr Rd for out-of-towners. Assemble near the restrooms.
  2. We’ll caravan (carpool for those who are comfortable) up South Fork Rd and then to the second cement wash.
  3. Bring your own lunch and some water (we’ll provide some snacks, water, bubbly, etc.).
  4. We’ll have loppers, iron rakes, and McCleods, but you can bring your own if you have them.
  5. Appropriate personal protective equipment includes long sleeve shirts, pants, boots, gloves, and hardhats. We will bring some hardhats.
  6. You’ll be asked to sign a volunteer sheet and listen to a short “job hazard analysis.”
  7. We’ll work from 9 to about 1, but you can leave anytime, or stay longer.
  8. Some may wish to ride up in the back of pickups with their bikes, then bicycle out.

On Sunday, repeat!

Feel free to share this notice widely.


John Harch, MSTA

Shasta-Trinity NF Closure Order Lifted — With Some Exceptions

The temporary closure of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has been lifted as of 8 a.m. on Saturday the 19th. Therefore, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is OPEN for public entry, with some exceptions. Many other national forests in California remained closed.

Specifically, the Shasta McCloud Management Unit established a forest closure order prohibiting dispersed camping in certain areas on the Unit. These areas are open to day use. The two areas are: South Fork Zone and a Mount Shasta Zone. This is in effect until October 31st. Additionally, the Bunny Flat gate will remain closed for the remainder of the season, which includes no camping in Panther Meadows Campground (area behind the gate is open to day use). The gates on Castle Lake Road and just above McBride Springs CG on the Everitt Memorial Highway will be opened on Monday when the County is able to do so. That’s when day use sites above these gates will re-open

All fire restrictions are still in effect. Therefore, no campfires, no propane grills, no ignitions of any sort – this includes in developed campgrounds.

Here are links to a news release, the closure order and map identified the areas closed to dispersed camping.

View of Gateway Trail expansion area

New Book on Dispersed Camping, plus Mount Shasta Area Dispersed Camping Advice

This book on dispersed camping provides advice for safely and ethically exploring Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Klamath National Forest.

The Mount Shasta area and surrounding Shasta-Trinity National Forest lands offer plenty of beautiful natural areas to do dispersed camping. To help you do dispersed camping safely and ethically, Northern California hiking guidebook author and former Mount Shasta Trail Association board member John Soares has just released his latest book: Camp for Free: Dispersed Camping & Boondocking on America’s Public Lands.

This book on dispersed camping provides advice for safely and ethically exploring Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Klamath National Forest.

What Is Dispersed Camping?

Dispersed camping (also called boondocking) entails driving down a road on national forest land (such as Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Klamath National Forest) or Bureau of Land Management land (common in desert areas) and finding a beautiful and legal site to camp. These campsites are usually far from organized campgrounds and often also far from other people — and they’re usually free.

Dirt roads on Shasta-Trinity National Forest lead to great sites for dispersed camping.
Dirt roads on Shasta-Trinity National Forest lead to great sites for dispersed camping.

What Does Camp for Free Cover?

Camp for Free is not a guide to specific campsites; there are several hundred thousand sites on the over 400 million acres of public lands in the United States. Instead, the book is a how-to guide that includes all the details of enjoying dispersed camping, and how to do it both ethically and safely.

Main Table of Contents

Chapter One: Dispersed Camping Defined
Chapter Two: Vehicles
Chapter Three: Where You Can Go
Chapter Four: Before You Go
Chapter Five: Finding the Best Dispersed Camping Sites
Chapter Six: Best Practices
Chapter Seven: Safety
Chapter Eight: Sleep for Free in Towns and Cities
Appendix: What to Take

Camp for Free author and former Mount Shasta resident John Soares on the platform bed in his minivan with his sweetheart Stephanie Hoffman
Camp for Free author and former Mount Shasta resident John Soares on the platform bed in his minivan with his sweetheart Stephanie Hoffman

Dispersed Camping in the Mount Shasta Area

There are hundreds of places to do dispersed camping in the greater Mount Shasta area on Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Klamath National Forest lands, and they are all great for exploring more remote areas where you can hike. (The Mount Shasta Trail Association has lots of info on Mount Shasta trails.)

Dispersed camping campsite on Shasta-Trinity National Forest -- back when we used the Subaru Outback and slept in a tent
Dispersed camping campsite on Shasta-Trinity National Forest — back when we used the Subaru Outback and slept in a tent

Shasta-Trinity National Forest has a series of rules you need to follow.

Camp at least 200 feet from streams, springs, meadows, and trails, and at least a quarter-mile from campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads, state highways, and private property.

Follow Leave No Trace principles:

  • Pack out all your trash, plus any other trash you find
  • Don’t drive off-road
  • Bury human waste in a cat hole at least eight inches deep, and consider packing out your used toilet paper. More details at the Leave No Trace website.

Don’t Start a Wildfire!

Seriously, make sure you have a California campfire permit and be aware that for much of summer into autumn all fires are prohibited in California national forests, including Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Klamath National Forest. Even if it’s early in the season and campfires are allowed, strongly consider skipping it. Always make sure you follow all regulations and understand fire safety.

Spread Out

As the Mount Shasta area becomes more popular, hikers and campers tend to congregate in a few popular areas, especially on the west side of Mount Shasta and nearby. Try to go farther out so that you have more privacy and can minimize the impact of humans on the environment.

Get More Information

Call the ranger station that has jurisdiction and ask about best places for dispersed camping, including which roads are open and any current restrictions or rules.

More Information about Camp for Free

Get all the details of Camp for Free here. For now, the book is primarily for sale on Amazon, but will have wider distribution by the end of 2020.

Key Resources

John has several key resources on his Northern California Hiking Trails website:

Trail Challenge Extended to October 1st

Since we still have 11 of the prizes (Hydro Flask tumblers) remaining, we’ve decided to extend the Challenge to October 1st. All you have to do is complete 8 trails listed on the passport and email us the list of those trails. Here’s a link to more information: link

Dreaming of a Hydro Flask tumbler

West Parks Creek Lake Trailhead — Closure for Bridge Replacement

From the Forest Service:

Starting August 31, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest will begin work to replace the West Parks Creek OHV trail bridge with a new bridge. The new bridge will provide a safe crossing of the stream for motorized vehicles 50” wide or less, reduce sediment delivery into West Parks Creek, and restore meadow conditions adjacent to the trailhead. The West Parks Creek bridge is located at the end of Road 41N73, on the Shasta McCloud Management Unit off of Parks Creek Road, 42N17. The trailhead to West Parks Creek Lakes will be closed during construction so parking will be limited. The project is scheduled to last 30 days, but may be completed within a couple weeks of the start date. If recreating in this area, please use caution when around heavy equipment and only pass the worksite when signaled to do so. Please call the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station if you have any further questions at (530) 440-4509.

Meadow along West Parks Creek