Visiting Mt. Shasta 2014

 

 

Introduction

Mt. Shasta is a popular destination for a wide spectrum of visitors. Some come for the challenge of climbing to the mountain’s summit, some are spiritual seekers drawn to the mountain, and some come for the floral displays of meadows or sweeping panoramas of vista points. This web site will provide the potential visitor with basic information about recreational opportunities, facilities, areas of interest, and other things to know before planning their visit. Please scroll down or use these links:

 

A view of Mt. Shasta on a clear day Ask Creek Falls flows over a very rocky precipice. Mt. Shasta is in the background View of north side of Mt. Shasta showing glaciers Upper Panther Meadows with Mt. Shasta in the background A man sits on the ground while holding a golden bowl and a wand with a large white ball on the end

 

How to get there [top]

The primary access road for Mt. Shasta is the Everitt Memorial Highway, a continuation of Lake Street in the town of Mt. Shasta. Lake Street is also the central exit for Mt. Shasta City (Exit 738). From Interstate 5, take Lake Street east (toward the mountain). You will drive through the business district of Mt. Shasta City before the road climbs a hill and changes names to Everitt Memorial Highway, also signed as county road A-10. The Everitt Memorial Highway ascends the south side of the mountain, starting at 3500 feet in town and terminating at timberline near 8,000 feet.

Mt. Shasta is administered by the Shasta-Trinity National Forest headquartered in the city of Redding, California.  There is no visitor center on the mountain itself. The local Ranger Station and visitor information is located in the town of Mt. Shasta at 204 West Alma Street. There is no entry station or entry fee, and there are no parking fees or passes. Access to the mountain is open and free to the public at all times.

Facilities on the mountain are limited. There is no piped water available, so be sure to bring some with you. Toilets and information boards are located at Bunny Flat, McBride Springs campground, and Panther Meadows campground. All other services are found in the town of Mt. Shasta.

 

Camping in Developed Sites [top]

There are three Forest Service campgrounds on Mt. Shasta. Due to the limited number of sites, camping opportunities are in high demand in these developed sites. All campsites are on a first come basis; no reservations available. The best time to look for open sites is mid-day Monday through Thursday. Weekends are generally filled.

McBride Springs.   Approximately 4 miles from Mt. Shasta City is McBride Springs Campground. The elevation here is almost 5000 feet. This campground is popular because of its convenient location to city services while still being on the mountain. There are 10 sites with tables and fire rings, a vault toilet, and a hand operated pump for drinking water located above the campground via a short trail. The fee is $10.00 per night with a maximum stay limit of 7 days. Please self-register at the campground information board. A campfire permit is not required.

Special note about McBride Springs:   In 2009, an infestation of Annosus root disease attacked the fir trees in the McBride area, including many firs in the campground. This posed a serious threat to visitors from weakened trees and limbs falling. The campground was closed for two seasons in order to remove these trees and prevent spread of the disease. It reopened in 2011 but has not completely recovered from the work that was done.

Red Fir Flat Group Site.    Approximately 9 miles up the mountain is Red Fir Flat where the forest is dominated by old growth Shasta Red Fir trees. On the west (left) side of the highway is a camping area that is designated for group use by reservation only. If you have a group size of more than eight persons and less than 75, contact the Ranger Station in Mt. Shasta City for an application to reserve this site. The fee is $12.00 per night with a maximum stay limit of 14 days. There is a vault toilet, a few tables and fire rings, but no water available. You will need to obtain a campfire permit along with the group permit when using this site. Please contact the Ranger Station at 530-926-4511.

Special note about Red Fir Flat Group Site:   The required permit is a Special Use Permit for groups to camp in this area. Commercial use of this site is not allowed, however non-commercial use by groups seeking spiritual retreat is common here. Please bear in mind however that the permit does not restrict other visitors from using the area during daytime hours.

Panther Meadows Campground.   Approximately 14 miles from Mt. Shasta City is the campground for Panther Meadows. The elevation here is 75oo feet, so the nights can be cold even during the summer. This is by far the most popular campground on the mountain, even though it is a walk-in campground. From the parking lot it is a short distance (100 to 500 feet) to the individual sites. There are 10 sites with tables and fire rings, a vault toilet, but no potable water. A campfire permit is not required. There is currently no fee to camp here, but visitors must register at the campground information board. Because these sites are in such high demand, there is a maximum stay limit of 3 nights to insure adequate opportunity for other visitors to enjoy this campground.

Special note for Panther Meadows: Are dogs welcome?  Over the past few years there has been a steady increase in the number of dogs visiting the meadows, with notable impacts on vegetation and wildlife. Dogs also affect the experience of other visitors. Currently, dogs are still allowed on the trails, but they must be leashed and under strict control. Even leashed dogs will stray off the edges of trails, thereby widening them and affecting adjacent vegetation. If you absolutely must bring your dog into the meadows, please control their impact. In the campground, the increase in the number of dogs over the past few years has resulted in problems concerning noise, sanitation, aggressive dogs, and unattended dogs. If you are visiting Mt. Shasta with your four-legged friends, there are other options that are more appropriate than the area of concentrated use at Panther. Day hikers who are hiking with their dog to Gray Butte may continue to do so, but they must be leashed and on the trail while crossing Lower Panther Meadow via the Gray Butte trail.

 

Dispersed Camping and Campfire Permits [top]

Due to the limited number of developed camp sites on Mt. Shasta, most people find that their best option is to plan on dispersed camping. What this means is camping on National Forest land outside of the developed campgrounds. There is no fee to do this, but you are on your own and must be responsible for your own sanitation, garbage, and water. Please use your own portable toilet system or bury your human waste 6 inches deep. Pack out all your garbage, including all food scraps. Campfire and charcoal barbeque use may be restricted to designated fire safe sites and only with a valid California Campfire Permit.  (Campfire permits and a complete list of designated sites is available at the Ranger Station.)  Terms of the permit include clearing away all flammable material in a ten foot radius, having a shovel on site, at least 5 gallons of water to extinguish your fire using the drown-stir-feel method, and never leaving your fire unattended. Even if you are not having a fire, you will still need a campfire permit to operate a gas stove or gas barbeque outside of the developed Forest Service campgrounds at McBride Springs and Panther Meadows.

The two best places for dispersed camping on the mountain include Bunny Flat and Sand Flat. At Bunny Flat trailhead there is a vault toilet but no water. On the downhill (south) side of the road there are a few designated fire safe sites. The other popular area for dispersed camping is Sand Flat. Although there are no facilities, it is a quieter place to camp because it is located one mile from the paved highway. There are nice views of the upper mountain as well. Because of the dry sandy soils, dust can be a problem; please drive slowly to reduce dust disturbance. To find Sand Flat, drive to Bunny Flat and turn around. Drive down the road about a half mile and the first dirt road you see on your right will be the upper access road to Sand Flat. Another half mile down the highway on the right will be the lower access road to Sand Flat. Both roads are rather rough and may be difficult for low clearance vehicles. It is about a mile drive on either road to reach Sand Flat.

 

Other Camping Opportunities in the Mt. Shasta Area [top]

Not everyone wishes to camp on the Mountain. Surface water is limited to just the small springs at McBride and Panther Meadows. These are not suitable for bathing, swimming, fishing, or other water based activities. For those visitors who wish to be near lakes and rivers, there are other Forest Service developed campgrounds and dispersed camping opportunities on the unit.

 

McCloud River Campgrounds

Fowlers Camp: The largest and most popular campground on the unit because of its close proximity to the three McCloud Falls. Located on the Upper McCloud River at an elevation of 3400 feet, it has 39 sites with tables, fire-rings, vault toilets, and piped drinking water. Suitable for tents and mid-sized RV’s or trailers. 14 day stay limit. $15.00 per night. No reservations. Please register at the campground information board. No campfire permit required.

Directions: From Interstate 5, take State Route 89 east to the town of McCloud. Continue another 5 miles and turn right (south) at the sign for Fowlers Camp and Lower Falls Picnic Area. Usually opens by the third Saturday in April and closes November 15th. No dispersed camping is allowed in the McCloud River Area south of State Route 89. Dispersed camping is allowed on Forest Service land north of State Route 89 with a campfire permit.

Cattle Camp: At an elevation of 3700 feet, this is one of two developed campgrounds on the Upper McCloud River. There are 24 sites with tables and fire rings, vault toilets, and piped drinking water. Suitable for tents and mid-sized RV’s or trailers. Some double sites for large families or small groups. 14 day stay limit. $15.00 per night. No reservations. Please register at the campground information board. No campfire permit required.

Directions: From Interstate 5, take State Route 89 east to the town of McCloud. Continue another 10 miles and turn right (south) at the sign for Cattle Camp. Usually opens by the third Saturday in April and closes November 15th. No dispersed camping is allowed in the McCloud River Area south of State Route 89. Dispersed camping is allowed on Forest Service land north of State Route 89 with a campfire permit.

Ah-Di-Na: Located on the Lower McCloud River at an elevation of 2300 feet, this remote campground has 17 sites with tables and fire rings, flush toilets, and drinking water. The dirt access road from Lake McCloud is very rough and rocky. Low clearance vehicles, trailers, and RV’s are not advised. 14 day stay limit. $10.00 per night. No reservations. Please register at the campground information board.

Directions: From Interstate 5, take State Route 89 east to the town of McCloud. Turn right on Squaw Valley Road and drive 10 miles to Lake McCloud. Continue around the west shore of the lake and turn right (west) onto Forest Service road 38N53. This rough dirt road climbs to a divide then descends to the McCloud River below the reservoir. It is approximately 18 miles from the town of McCloud. Usually opens by the third Saturday in April and closes November 15th. This is a very popular campground for people wishing to fish the Lower McCloud River.

 

Campgrounds West of Interstate 5

Special note about the Castle Lake area: As of summer 2013, there is no open dispersed camping allowed within one half mile of the shoreline of Castle Lake. Camping is only allowed in the developed campground 1/4 mile below the lake.

Castle Lake Campground: This small primitive campground is nestled in a thick mixed conifer forest approximately ¼ mile below Castle Lake. There are 6 sites with tables, fire rings, and vault toilets. Bring your own water. Not recommended for large vehicle or trailers. 7-day stay limit. No fee. No registration. No campfire permit required. This is a high demand campground due to its close proximity to Castle Lake. It is usually filled on weekends.

Directions: From Mt. Shasta City, head west on Lake Street over the freeway and to the stop sign at Old Stage Road. Turn left (south) and drive ¼ mile to a fork in the road. Stay to the right at the fork and continue on this road, W.A. Barr Road. In 2 miles you will cross the dam at Lake Siskiyou and then you will see the turnoff for Castle Lake. Turn left and drive the paved road 7 miles to the lake. Castle Lake Campground is located ¼ mile below the lake on the left (east) side of the road. Look for the unsigned dirt access road. There are few dispersed camping sites along the Castle Lake Road; however, about a mile below Castle Lake there is a large open area that used to be the parking lot and base of operations for a cross country ski area. This is a good “overflow” site when the campground is full. A campfire permit is required. This area is usually open by Memorial Weekend and is closed by snow in November.

This glacier carved granite cirque lake is a premier attraction of the Mt. Shasta area. There are numerous recreational activities including swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, easy hiking, and picnicking. Please note that although small boats with motors are allowed on this lake, local custom is non-motorized craft only. Please do not park in the boat ramp zone. The boat ramp is steep and hand-carry only; please use caution. There is no fee for using this area. Also, be aware that the north and east sides of the lake are privately owned and are therefore off limits to camping. On the west side of the lake, camping is allowed on the National Forest; however, there is a minimum camping distance of at least 200 feet from the water’s edge and potential campsites are very rare due to the dense brush. Please, no campfires.

 

Heart Lake and Little Castle Lake

Please be aware that Castle Lake is partially situated on private property.  The traditional trail to Heart Lake and Little Castle Lake leaves the east end of the parking area and ascends to the divide above the east side of the lake. It begins on public land in section 24 of T39N R5W but immediately crosses the boundary of section 19 of T39N R4W. This entire section of land (about 640 acres) is privately owned property and posted as such. There is no legal access across this section to these lakes. Please be respectful and avoid trespassing. However, the west shore of the lake is public and features a short trail with easy access to the water.

 

 Gumboot Lake: The area on the north side of this shallow meadow-type lake is open for camping from June to October, depending on snow. There are at least 6 undeveloped sites (no tables) with user-created fire rings and a vault toilet. Bring your own water or purify the lake water. Suitable for tents and mid-size RV’s or trailers. No fee. No registration. Campfire permit required at all times.

Directions:From Mt. Shasta City, head west on Lake Street over the freeway and to the stop sign at Old Stage Road. Turn left (south) and drive ¼ mile to a fork in the road. Stay to the right at the fork and continue on this road, W.A. Barr Road. In 2 miles you will cross the dam at Lake Siskiyou. Stay on this road for another 12 miles. The road parallels the South Fork Sacramento River. The road in the canyon is narrow with blind corners; please use extra caution. Large vehicles and trailers not recommended. When you arrive at a fork in the road, take the left fork ½ mile to Gumboot Lake. The right fork continues 1 ½ miles to the Gumboot Trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail. There are numerous dispersed camping sites along the South Fork if sites at the lake are unavailable. This area is usually open by Memorial Weekend and is closed by snow in November.

Special note about Gumboot Lake:  Is it a campground or a dispersed site? Currently the facilities at Gumboot Lake only include the toilet and information board; therefore it is not a developed campground per se and campfire permits are required at all times. Please use existing sites with user-created rock fire rings. Plans are in place for upgrading some sites with tables and metal fire rings in the near future. Also, there is a long-standing County Ordinance that prohibits motorized boats (including electric motors) on the lake. This is a popular destination for lakeside camping, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. There is no fee for using this area.

 

Sacramento River Canyon

Sims Flat: This campground is located alongside the Sacramento River at an elevation of 1600 feet, about 30 miles south of the town of Mt. Shasta. There are 19 sites with tables and fire-rings suitable for tents and mid-sized RV’s or trailers. Flush and vault toilets; piped water. 14 day stay limit. $15.00 per night. No reservations. Please register at the campground information board.

Directions: Simply exit Interstate 5 at the Sims exit, about 30 miles north of Redding and 30 miles south of Mt. Shasta. Head east from the freeway (downhill towards the river). In one mile you will cross the railroad tracks and the bridge over the Sacramento River. The campground is located on the east side of the river, to the right (south). This is a popular campground for fishing and boating the Sacramento, especially in the spring when the water is high and the upper elevation campgrounds are still closed by snow. Usually opens by the third Saturday in April and closes November 15th.

 

Hiking Opportunities on Mt. Shasta [top]

Horse Camp

Distance / Time required:  3.4 miles roundtrip / 3 hours

Elevation at trailhead:  6900 feetwith 1000 foot elevation gain

Season:  Year-round. Skis or snowshoes may be necessary from November through June.

Permits: A free Wilderness Permit is required and can be self-issued at the Bunny Flat trailhead iself-issue permit station.

Dogs:  Not permitted due to wilderness regulations.

Directions to trail access at Bunny Flat Trailhead:  From the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station, head east on Alma Street (toward the Mountain). Cross the railroad tracks and turn right at the signal onto Mt. Shasta Blvd. Continue two blocks to the next signal at Lake Street and turn left. Stay on Lake Street as you climb a hill and veer left. You are now on Everitt Memorial Highway. In 12 miles you will come to a parking area with a restroom on the left. This is Bunny Flat. The trail to Horse Camp begins on the right side of the restroom.

Trail description:This is the most popular day hike on Mt. Shasta and is the access trail to the Avalanche Gulch climbing route. The trail ascends gradually through a forest of Shasta Red Fir and Lodgepole pine to the Shasta Alpine Lodge (Horse Camp) a historic stone cabin at timberline that is owned by the Sierra Club Foundation. OUT OF RESPECT TO OTHER VISITORS AND NATIVE WILDLIFE, NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON SIERRA CLUB FOUNDATION PROPERTY. During the summer months there is a spring at the cabin for drinking water and a caretaker on hand to answer questions.

 

Panther Meadows

Distance / Time required:  1.0 miles roundtrip / 1 hour

Elevation at trailhead:  7725 feet with minorelevation gain

Season:  Late June (July or August on heavy snow pack years) to late October

Permits:  A Wilderness Permit is not required; however there are special rules and regulations for Panther Meadows. Group size is limited to 8 persons in a party; seasonal access may be restricted during the wet period before the trails are dry enough to allow foot traffic.  

Dogs:  Not permitted anywhere in the meadows except the Gray Butte trail.

Directions to trail access at the Lower Ski Bowl parking lot:  From Bunny Flat (see directions above) continue up the Everitt Memorial Highway for another 2.2 miles to the parking lot on the left (west) side of the highway. This is the Lower Ski Bowl parking lot and the best access for visiting Panther Meadow.

Trail description:  From the parking area on the west side of the highway, head east to the signed entry point for Panther Meadow. Take a few moments to read the information board for helpful hints as to how you may best enjoy the meadows without causing unnecessary human impact. The short and easy trail heads south a ways before veering east toward the Upper Panther Meadow. Watch for the fork in the trail. The left fork goes to the Upper Meadow and source spring; the right fork descends to the Lower Meadow alongside the cascades of Panther Creek. Notable trees in the area include Lodgepole Pine, Mountain Hemlock, Shasta Red Fir, and Whitebark Pine on the ridges above. Please respect the area around the source spring, as this is considered a sacred site. The rock walls around the spring were constructed to preserve the banks from damage caused by visitors filling up water bottles and getting in the water. Please do not fill up water bottles or place any objects in the spring itself; instead there is an access point about 10 feet below the spring.

 

South Gate Meadows

Distance / Time required:   4.0 miles roundtrip / 2 hours

Elevation at trailhead:   7850 feet with an 800 foot elevation gain (400 feet each way)

Season:   Late June (July or August on heavy snow pack years) to late October

Permits:   A free Wilderness Permit is required and can be self-issued at the Old Ski Bowl trailhead self-issue permit station. Take the green copy with you and leave the white copy in the book.

Dogs:  Not permitted due to wilderness regulations.

Directions to trail access at Old Ski Bowl trailhead:  From Bunny Flat (see directions above) continue up the Everitt Memorial Highway for another 2.4 miles to the end of the road and the uppermost parking area.

Trail description: The trail begins at the site of the now-removed Shasta Ski Lodge, near timberline on the mountain. From the parking lot, the trail heads east, ascending 400 feet up over a divide. It then descends past Hummingbird Meadow another 400 feet to the base of Red Butte. At the trail intersection, signed “South Gate Meadows,” turn left (northeast) and continue through “The Gate”, a gap between Red Butte and the toe of Sargents Ridge. There are some stately Whitebark Pines that guard “The Gate.” In a short distance, the trail starts to descend. Watch for a fork in the trail. The left fork leads to the middle of three meadows; the right fork descends to the lowest meadow. Be sure to return the same way you came as many folks seem to get lost by taking the wrong trail at the intersection below Red Butte.

 

Special note about South Gate Meadows:  When you leave the Old Ski Bowl and cross over the divide, you enter into the Mt. Shasta Wilderness. There are rules and regulations for wilderness use you need to be aware of:

  • Group size is limited to 10 persons or less.   CFR 261.58(f)
  • Camping is limited to 7 nights within a 30-day period beginning with the first night of occupancy. Camping is not allowed within 100 feet (50 paces) of springs, streams, and trails.  CFR 261.58(a)
  • Good Sanitation. Visitors are required to pack out their human body waste (feces), garbage and food waste, and properly dispose of it in receptacles provided at trailheads. (In this case Bunny flat.) Urinate at least 100 feet from springs, streams, trails, and camp locations.   CFR 261.11(d)
  • Wood fires are prohibited. Firewood is scarce at high elevations. Wood fires scar the landscape and dead and down wood is crucial to soil regeneration in alpine environments. Portable stoves, which use gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid, are allowed.   CFR 261.52(a)
  • Dogs are prohibited in the wilderness. Dogs have the potential to disturb wildlife, destroy fragile vegetation, and affect other visitor’s experience.   CFR 261.53(e)
  • Personal equipment may not be left unattended longer than 24 hours.   CFR 261.57(f)

 

Gray Butte

Distance / Time required:   4.0 miles roundtrip / 2 hours

Elevation at trailhead:   7500 feetwith a 600 foot elevation gain

Season:   Late June (July or August on heavy snow pack years) to late October.

Permits:   A Wilderness Permit is not required.

Dogs:   Permitted only on Gray Butte trail. Dogs must be leashed while crossing Lower Panther Meadow.

Directions to trail access at Panther Meadows Campground:   From Bunny Flat (see directions above) continue up the Everitt Memorial Highway for another 1.7 miles. Turn right at the campground sign and park in the campground parking area.

Trail description:  This trail heads east from the Panther Meadows Campground and crosses through Lower Panther Meadow and on up through a stand of old-growth Shasta Red Fir to a fork in the trail. The right fork ascends the east slope of Gray Butte through a pure stand of Mountain Hemlock trees. Eventually the trail reaches a saddle between the lower peak of Gray Butte (radio tower site) and the higher peak. The view from the saddle is excellent, but following the faint trail the rest of the way up the higher peak provides a more rewarding panorama.

 

Old Ski Bowl

Distance / Time required:   Variable

Elevation at trailhead:   7850 feet

Season:   Late June (July or August on heavy snow pack years) to late October.

Permits:   A Wilderness Permit is not required.

Dogs:  Allowed anywhere within the Old Ski Bowl. The ridgelines of the bowl define the Wilderness area where dogs are prohibited.

Directions to trail access at Old Ski Bowl trailhead:  From Bunny Flat (see directions above) continue up the Everitt Memorial Highway for another 2.4 miles to the end of the road and the uppermost parking area.

Trail description:  The “trails” in the Old Ski Bowl are actually old service roads that were used when the Shasta Ski Area was operating. An avalanche damaged the Green Butte ski lift in the late 70’s, and the ski facilities were eventually removed. If you follow the “main” dirt road up to the 9500 foot elevation, you can see some of the remaining ruins of the old ski facilities. Another popular hike is to start up the bowl but then veer off to the west and ascend Green Butte for a nice panorama that only takes a few hours and involves an elevation gain of about 1300 feet.

Special note about the Old Ski Bowl:  The uppermost parking lot is reserved for day use only and is closed from midnight to 6 am. This insures that there will be parking available for day hikers and visitors. The lower lot is used for day use and overnight parking for folks who are backpacking into the Mt. Shasta Wilderness.

 

Areas of Interest [top]

Panther Meadows

The road to Panther Meadows and the Old Ski Bowl is opened each year at Bunny Flat by the Siskiyou county Road Department. The access gate at Bunny Flat typically opens around the first of July, sometimes sooner on drier years and later on wetter years. In 2012 it opened June 14th. That year the winter snowpack measurements were 104% of average. The year before, in 2011, the mountain received about 200% of average and the road to Panther Meadows did not open until August 5th!

For a closer look at Panther Meadows, please access the slideshow below.

Visiting and caring for Panther Meadows and Panther Springs (a slideshow)

Old Ski Bowl

The Old Ski Bowl trailhead is the highest point you can drive on Mt. Shasta, terminating at timberline near 8,000 feet. The panoramic view includes Mount Eddy to the west, Lake Siskiyou and the Forks of the Sacramento River to the southwest, Castle Crags to the south, with the Trinity Alps on the distant horizon.

There are two parking areas for the Ski Bowl. The first one is the Lower Lot, which is on the right (west) side of the highway, and the Upper Lot which is a little higher and at the very end of the road. Parking restrictions are different for the two lots.

The Lower Lot is used primarily by people who are visiting Upper Panther Meadow where the source spring is located. Simply park and walk to the east end of the lot where you will see the access trail and information board. It is an easy half mile walk to the spring. The Lower Lot is also used by people who are backpacking into the Mt. Shasta Wilderness. They can leave their vehicle parked for up to 7 nights, which is the maximum stay in the wilderness. Backpackers are required to park in the Lower Lot to help ensure that there will be adequate parking at the Upper Lot for day visitors.

Parking is a bit limited at the Upper Lot and large vehicles may have a difficult time getting turned around. Although overnight parking is not allowed, people who want to enjoy the night views are welcome till midnight; hours of restriction are midnight to 6 am.

There are no parking fees at any of the trailheads on Mt. Shasta, including the Old Ski Bowl. There are no facilities at the Old Ski Bowl other than a few picnic tables. The nearest toilets are located at Bunny Flat, two miles down the road. Large events and lots of vehicles create congestion and traffic hazards. The parking lots will quickly fill up and overflow onto road shoulders and turnouts. There will be more foot traffic on the roadway; please use extra caution!

South Gate Meadows

These are a series of three meadows located about two miles east of the Old Ski Bowl. For directions on how to get there, please refer to the hiking section above. Similar to Panther Meadows, these meadows are comprised of Mountain Heather and Alpine Laurel, and therefore are just as susceptible to impact from people walking off trail. Also, when choosing a place to sit, please use rocks or open areas outside of the meadows. With the extra pressure of high visitation to Panther Meadows, it is anticipated that South Gate will receive a lot more use this year.  Visitors need to remember that this is a wilderness area with special rules and regulations, as outlined in the hiking section. Please set up all overnight camps as far from the meadow, springs, and streams as possible, even farther than the 100 feet allowed. This will not only help protect the water quality and meadows, but will reduce the visual impact for other visitors in this high use area. Remember, unlike many other wilderness areas, fires and dogs are not allowed anywhere within the Mt. Shasta Wilderness, including South Gate Meadows.

Ascension Rock

In the Red Fir Flat Group Camp there is a rock formation that is locally known as “Ascension Rock”. There have been an increasing number of people asking about this site and access to it since it is inside the group camp. People who have reserved Red Fir Flat for camping cannot obstruct visitors from using the area during daytime hours, including Ascension Rock. However, since Red Fir Flat is used as a spiritual retreat, please show respect for all parties concerned and avoid excessive noise and large groups. Also, although it is possible to park vehicles in the group camp, as a courtesy to others please park in the highway turnout a short distance downhill from the entrance to Red Fir Flat and walk in to Ascension Rock. Not only is this less intrusive, it will make a huge difference in the amount of dust generated by vehicles off pavement.

 

Retreats and Workshops [top]

This year there will be a lot of people participating in workshops and retreats, both in the town of Mt. Shasta and on the Mountain itself. Here are some important things to be aware of:

Private gatherings are allowed, such as friends in meditation groups or ceremonial circles, etc. As long as there are less than 75 participants, you do not need to have a Special Use Permit. These gatherings must be of a non-commercial nature and not tied to, or an active part of, any commercial workshop or enterprise occurring elsewhere, such as in one of the surrounding communities. Where things get complicated is when the gathering is of a non-commercial nature (i.e. money is not exchanged) but a service is being provided by say, a group leader who was brought in specifically for the event. When a service is being provided, there is a question of liability, and that is the primary protection that a Special Use Permit offers participants. Another area of question concerns events that are advertised in the media, on the internet, or posted. These may appear commercial in nature and could be investigated. If you are a participant in a Mt. Shasta event taking place on the mountain or elsewhere on National Forest land, you should ask questions of the promoter to insure your safety and legality.

 

Groups and Weddings [top]

If you are considering marriage on the Mountain, here’s what you need to know:

As with all group events taking place on National Forest lands, you will need to obtain a Special Use Permit in advance if your group size is more than 75 people. The reason a permit is needed is to ensure responsibility in providing for the needs of your group, such as providing adequate shade, water, sanitation (portable restrooms), and removal of all refuse and equipment after the event. There may be additional requirements specified in the permit. There is no fee for the permit, but due to the processing time involved, please make your request as far in advance as possible. Contact the Ranger Station at 530-926-4511.

If your group size is less than 75 people, you do not need a permit, but you should still consider the needs of your guests.

Wedding locations on the mountain are a bit limited. There are no permanent facilities except the toilets at the campgrounds and Bunny Flat. There is no piped water; you must bring your own. Sites cannot be specifically reserved; all areas on the mountain are open to the public. Due to the rules and regulations at Panther Meadows (especially group size limitations) the meadow area and campground is not a viable location. The open area at the top of the Everitt Memorial Highway, where the old ski lodge was located, has lots of room, open vistas, and easy access; however this area is heavily used by other visitors. Privacy and parking may be a concern. Nearest toilet facilities are at Bunny Flat.

Bunny Flat has the convenience of toilet facilities and plenty of parking, and has a nice view of the upper mountain, but is also heavily used by hikers and climbers since it is the primary trailhead on Mt. Shasta.

Red Fir Flat Group Camp is another option for smaller wedding parties. There is a toilet available but parking may be limited. It is a nice forest setting but has no view of the mountain. Although a permit is not necessary to use this site during the day, overnight use or camping does require a permit. Please check with the Ranger Station for availability, as other groups may already have this site reserved.

Another good option for wedding groups, especially larger groups, is Sand Flat. This area is located one mile off the Everitt Highway, has beautiful views of the mountain, shaded by Shasta Red Firs, is more secluded than the areas mentioned above, and therefore has a more natural feel to it. Drawbacks include access via dirt roads that are a bit rough for some vehicles and the sandy ash soils in Sand Flat, as elsewhere on the mountain, can be dusty when winds are blowing or other vehicle traffic is in the area.

Time of year is also a factor for weddings on Mt. Shasta. On wet years, the upper part of the mountain, including Sand Flat and the Old Ski Bowl, can be under snow until July or even August. On dry years these areas may be fine as early as mid-June. It is also not unusual to get our first significant snows by the beginning of October. As a general rule, late July through early August is usually the best time, although afternoon thunderstorms can occur.

 

Contact Us [top]

For additional information not covered on this web site, please call the Ranger Station at 530-926-4511, 711 (TTY), or stop in and visit us at 204 West Alma Street in downtown Mt. Shasta City. For e-mail queries contact: Don Lee at dlee02@fs.fed.us