Sisson-Callahan Trail (In The Eddys)

Trail Highlights
This trail was established in the 1800’s by cattlemen, trappers and miners to connect Sisson (now Mt Shasta) with the Scott Valley. After the creation of the Shasta National Forest in 1905 it was made into an official trail connecting the Forest HQ in Sisson with the Forest Station in Callahan. For a while it had a telegraph line paralleling it. The most easterly remaining section starts along the North Fork of the Sacramento just above its confluence with the main stem of the river and continues all the way up the North Fork of the Sacramento and to the old corral at Bear Creek Cabin in the Trinity River drainage.

Discussion of useable sections of the Sisson Callahan Trail from the PCT above Bear Creek to Kangaroo Lake will be added in the future.  The trail just north of Bear Creek Cabin is gone.

The first 3.5 miles of the trail along the lower portion of the North Fork of the Sacramento were rebuilt in 2019. It is in the heart of the area that is the subject of active recreation and fire resiliency planning efforts by the Shasta-Trinity NF.

The next three miles provide access into the meadows along the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Sacramento and to maintained trails to Deadfall and  Mt Eddy as well as a historic trail route to Toad Lake.

The third section passes through the uppermost meadows of the North Fork and then reaches the Trinity Divide and the PCT. 

Further sections descend into the meadows along Bear Creek in the Trinity River Drainage.

Trailhead Locations: In Google Maps “Sisson Callahan Trail Lower North Fork Trailhead” and “Sisson Callahan Trail Upper North Fork Trailhead” (See details below).  The trail is also accessible from Forest Roads in the Bear Creek area. (Do not trust the names Google Maps uses for Forest Roads in this area: they usually don’t agree with the Forest Service Maps and signs, but the line work is ok)

Length (one way) 3-1/4 miles between the North Fork trailheads up to  nearly 10 miles to Bear Creek Cabin
Elevation Gain / Range: 1900 ft  to 4100 ft gain from elevation 3500 to as high as 7500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
When to go: April to November (All year if no low elevation snow).  Note that access to listed trailheads is often blocked by high river flows in the spring or lingering snow patches.

{April 17, 2021 observation: the flow is wide but below the knees at the ford at the Lower North Fork Trailhead}

Cell Service: Mostly non-existent, can be spotty near the lower North Fork trailhead. Download your maps beforehand.

Trail Maps

Segment 1 Along the lower North Fork of the Sacramento River
Segment 2 – Above the Upper North Fork Trailhead into the meadows   
Segment 3: Upper end of North Fork of the Sacramento across the PCT and Bear Creek

Note you can load these maps directly into the free CalTopo app by using the QR code.

Note the free Caltopo website lets you export files in *.gpx (generic gps file) / *.kml (Google Earth) or *.gpsio (Garmin Connect) formats for use with your favorite GPS software.

Trail Details by Segment:

Segment 1: Along the lower North Fork of the Sacramento

  • Directions to the Trailhead: “Sisson Callahan Trail Lower North Fork Trailhead” in Google Maps. From the I5 Lake Street exit in Mt Shasta go west for ½ mile on Lake Street / Hatchery Lane, Turn left on S Old Stage, Go 0.2 mile then veer right onto W A Barr Rd.. Go 0.8 miles before turning right onto North Shore Road.  Follow North Shore Rd for 3.8 miles: turn left onto 40N27 and immediately cross over Deer Creek. Follow 40N27 for 0.6 mile and go straight at the fork onto 40N27C (Don’t turn up the hill). 40N27C continues for 0.3 mile before ending at the North Fork of the Sacramento River. Park. (Note the full online version of the above Caltopo Map and the gpx file include the access route starting with North Shore Road) The North Shore Road beyond Lake Siskiyou gets rutted, but moderate clearance SUV’s can pick their way through.
  • Length: 3-1/4 miles one way
  • Elevation Gain / Range: 1950 feet gain / 3500 to 5300 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • When to Hike: May to November (All year if no low elevation snow)
  • Cell Service: It is spotty in this canyon at best: Download your maps beforehand
  • Trail Details: After parking, hike along the remnant of the road as it descends into the river bed and then ford the river to find the beginning of the trail. During high springtime river flows do not attempt this ford; go someplace else. Using water shoes / sandals to make the ford is often the best way. Follow the trail uphill along the slopes above the North Fork. After 3-1/4 miles you will reach Forest Road 41N53: this location is in Google Maps as “Sisson Callahan Trail Upper North Fork Trailhead”. 41N53 is not appropriate for low clearance vehicles. You can turn around here, explore nearby Morgan Meadows a bit further northeast along FR41N53 beyond the ford or continue further up the Sisson Callahan Trail into the meadows and forest along the upper stretch of the North Fork. (See Segment 2 below) 

Segment 2: Above the Upper North Fork Trailhead into the meadows

  • Directions to the Trailhead: “Sisson Callahan Trail Upper North Fork Trailhead”   Note moderate or high clearance vehicles required. From the I5 Lake Street exit in Mt Shasta go west for ½ mile on Lake Street / Hatchery Lane, Turn left on S Old Stage, Go 0.2 mile then veer right onto W A Barr Rd.. Go straight for 7.6 miles (WA Barr Rd, Across Box Canyon Dam, After Lake Siskiyou WA Barr becomes Forest Road 26 “South Fork Road”) Just 0.1 mile after crossing the first bridge over the South Fork of the Sacramento turn right onto Road 41N53. Go right at a major road fork .2 mile farther. Continue on the main dirt road another 4.7 miles (total of 4.9 miles from paved Road 26) and park on the right side of the road just before reaching a concrete ford and the North Fork Sacramento River. FR26 requires moderate clearance vehicles and does ford the Middle Fork of the Sacramento: do not cross it if springtime water flows are too high for your vehicle.
  • Length: 2.9 miles one way
  • Elevation Gain / Range: 1300 feet gain / 5300 to 6600 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • When to Hike: June to October (Earlier if river flows have dropped to allow crossing fords)
  • Cell Service: None: Download your maps beforehand
  • Description and Comments: After treating you to wildflower displays, it allows you to climb Mount Eddy and continue on to the Deadfall Lakes. (See separate entry.) or to continue on up to the head of the North Fork valley at the PCT on the Trinity Divide.


    Go to the upstream and near side of the ford to find the trail heading further upriver. Notice the National Recreational Trail emblem on a post. Similar posts, along with tree blazes will guide you along the route.  The first bit follows an ancient skid road, so watch for a short switchback to your left away from that skid road about 1/3 mile after starting at road 41N53. (Most mapping apps should show it)  This section of the trail is well established.

    The path travels near the south bank of the North Fork Sacramento River, taking you through meadows and moist areas, and showing you colorful wildflower displays. At 2.6 miles you  pass the junction with trail 5W05, the original trail to Toad Lake.  Note the trail to Toad Lake is very hard to find at spots requiring excellent way finding skills; but you can find much of it easily by using GPS to follow the line work in the USFS topos or tracks left by others in common apps.  It is also marked by blazes and diamond trail markers on trees.

    Immediately after that trail junction, cross the stream (look for a post on the other side) After crossing the stream walk through a meadow and a lodgepole pine forest. Enter a red fir and western white pine forest. About 1/2 mile after crossing the stream you come to a trail junction with limited signing:

  • Look for a historic green on white tree mounted sign pointing to the trail veering to the right towards  Deadfall Summit (another 1-3/4 miles / 1400 ft gain) and Mt Eddy (2-3/4 miles and 2400 ft gain from here) (This trail to the right is also shown as the Sisson-Callahan NRT on some maps).   See Separate trail guide for Deadfall & Mt Eddy
  • The trail veering slightly to the left is the historic Sisson-Callahan Trail (See Segment 3 description below)

Segments 3: Upper end of the North Fork to the PCT above the North Fork and Bear Creek

  • Length: 1-1/4 mile
  • Elevation Gain / Range: 900feet / 6600 to 7500
  • Difficulty: Strenuous (Steep climb at end)
  • Cell Service: None: Download your maps beforehand
  • Description and Comments:  This segment is typically well marked and quite visible.  But keep your eyes open as you leave the meadows and start climbing; you might want to have your GPS running.  You will be treated to more meadows followed by nice views down the valley to Mt Shasta as you climb.  At the PCT you can gander to the west.

    The historic Sisson-Callahan trail continues down through the Bear Creek drainage / meadows to the west.  It is easy to follow for a bit before getting lost in the meadows in Section 23, which was acquired by the Forest Service in 2019:  Look for updates to this guide in the future.

Land Agency: Mount Shasta Ranger Station, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 204 West Alma, Mount Shasta, CA 96067. (530) 926-4511.

Special Features: meadows; wildflowers; solitude; views of metamorphic ridges and peaks

Maps: USGS 7.5″ Mount Eddy.