The Mt. Shasta Trinity Forest Area

I’ve been visiting the Mt. Shasta Trinity National Forest area my whole life, even before I became paralyzed and started wheelchair traveling. The Mt. Shasta Trinity National Forest area is one of Northern California’s pristine outdoor spaces, protected and preserved for future generations.

Past San Francisco and Sacramento the land opens up, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Mountains with Highway 5 and train tracks running in between. About an hour past Lassen National Park, when coming south, or a little over an hour past Ashland, Oregon near the border, is where the Shasta-Trinity National Forest begins. Having an accessible vehicle to get around an explore this area is ideal and provides a lot of freedom and flexibility.

Planning Tip: When planning your day make sure to have a full tank of gas, water, and a packed lunch. Mosquitos and small flies can also be a bother, especially certain times of the year, so bug repellant is a good idea.

Parks + Trails

  • Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark has boat tours. When not heavily saturated wheelchairs can take the long ramp down to boat dock and wheel right onto the boat. The tour’s main attraction is into the caves, which is not accessible due to stairs, but the boat ride is possible. Right near the designated parking spots, there is a kids’ rock panning and mining setup, which is accessible. The visitor center has a gift shop and toilets. Bailey’s Cove has a nice picnic area and a long, paved dock down to the lake that makes for a nice trail. Packer’s Bay is a marina with different views of the Lake Shasta.
  • Shasta Dam near Shasta Lake has a large visitor center along with a picnic area and paved pathway across the actual dam.
  • Siskiyou Lake Trail Loop Wagon creek Pedestrian Bridge is a scenic spot and a great view point of Lake Siskiyou. The trail is a mix of dirt hard pack, pine needles, and gravel with some short, paved sections. Mobility devices with wide mountain-bike type tires and all-terrain rolling walkers should be fine. The trail is used by hikers, dog walkers, runners, and horses, so be alert. Some pre-planning may be required to pick your best route. Do try for the Wagon Creek Bridge for photo opportunities. The two pontoon bridges at the north end of the lake are in place from mid-May to mid-November. I don’t know if these are wheelchair accessible. At other times of the year, the distance one way on the north shore to the delta is 2.2 miles and the distance following the southwest shoreline is 4.4 miles to the delta.
  • Mt. Shasta City Park  is in the heart of the downtown area. A paved pathway loops around an open grass field and a playground. What’s particularly special is a natural spring coming out of the mountain that is suggested to be the head of the Sacramento River, as discovered by John Muir. People pour in and out daily to fill up jugs of water. A sign advises not to drink the water as it has not been tested and approved as safe, but that doesn’t stop people.
  • Sisson Meadow Trail: Located in the heart of downtown Mt. Shasta City, this trail loops around a beautiful meadow with great views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding mountains. The short 1/4 mile trail is a mix of pavement and boardwalk with a low boarder and a few benches along the way. The boardwalk portion of the trail may be too narrow for some larger wheelchairs.
  • Elsa Rupp Preserve Trail: Open March-September. This trail crosses over the Big Springs Creek a few times. Some bridges may be too narrow or unsafe to cross by wheelchair. Begin at the Sisson Museum parking lot and go past the displays describing the trail. Or, alternatively, take North Old Stage Road about 1/4 mile and make a right into a small gravel parking area. The trailhead is located by a stone monument.
  • McCloud Waterfalls: The Upper, Middle and Lower viewpoints to the falls are barrier-free and accessible for most. The trail at the Lower and Upper Falls is paved, while the middle falls is a firmly-packed natural terrain. The Middle Falls has the most designated handicapped parking; Upper Falls has one spot. Lower Falls has a very nice ADA picnic area whereas the Upper Falls has only one picnic table. The viewing area of the Lower Falls is very popular with photographers and painters. There is a paved trail that travels to the Fowler Campground, where there are accessible campsites.
  • McCloud Great Shasta Rail Trail: Not officially wheelchair accessible, but may be for some at least partially. There’s no boarder of any kind, but there is a wide, packed-dirt trail. Hiking on the wooden tracks themselves is required at some point, and may be problematic and unsafe for many wheelchairs.
  • Dunsmuir Park and Botanical Gardens: Just south of Lake Shasta along Highway 5 and the Sacramento River, featuring a lovely small park with a playground and seasonal garden.
  • Tauhindauli Park (Dunsmuir): A dog-friendly, paved, looped trail, located under the bridge and along the river. A portion of the trail veers directly to the river with a good paved platform.
  • Castle Crags State Park: Two official accessible trails are the Vista Trail and the Root Creek Trail. Both trails are located near on another and at the top of the mountain up a windy two-way, single lane road. The two trails are firmly packed dirt and are wide enough for a wheelchair; no handrails are along this trail. An accessible vaulted toilet is also in the area. 
  • McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park: Three areas to checkout at this park. Designated accessible parking spots, bathrooms and a picnic area are located near the falls overlook. A short paved pathway leads to the overlook area of Burney Falls. The Headwaters Trail a 0.71 mile, one-way trail that meanders upstream along Burney Creek and passes an accessible fishing pier. This trail makeup is crushed, packed rock and dirt and is relatively flat, except for a few small inclines of about 10 degrees. One water barge, to help with overflow, may be challenging for some wheelchair users to hike over. Furthermore, the Burney Creek Trail has designated parking and an accessible vaulted toilet at the Lake Britton Beach trailhead, and the one-way dirt trail is barrier-free for the first 1.25 miles or so. A fishing pier is accessible at this trailhead along with a beach wheelchair to rent. The Pioneer Cemetery Trail Trailhead has limited parking near campsite #75 in the Pioneer Campground. The trail itself is firmly packed and barrier-free, but is a little rocky, which may be challenging for some wheelchair hikers. 

Sunset Spots

  • Spring Hill Road
  • Castle Lake Road
  • Shasta Wildlife Refuge 

Places to Stay

  • Inn at Mt. Shasta (Mt. Shasta City)
  • LOGE (Mt. Shasta City)
  • Inn at Shasta Lake (Shasta Lake)
  • Cabins @ Burney Fall: Two accessible cabins (#59 & #62) are available in the Rim Campground. Inside, the cabins are equipped with heat and two single beds with foam mats, but no electricity. Outside, each cabin has its own fire pit, picnic table, and space for a tent. Accessible restrooms/showers and parking are available in the campground loop. Phone (530) 335-2777 for more information. 

Food + Drinks

  • Berryvale Grocery Store (Mt. Shasta City): Quality grocery market located in heart of downtown with gourmet, organic and regular items. A café is also located inside in the back and is a favorite among locals
  • Thrive Bar (Mt. Shasta City): Best known for their kombucha on tap, but also serves other organic drinks along with coffee and tea. (No alcohol.)
  • Café Maddalena: Best food in Mt. Shasta City.
  • Pizza Factory and Old Mill BBQ: Located not far from Shasta Lake, and they deliver.
  • The BASSHOLE BREWS is a nice restaurant with a rich, established history near Shasta Lake.

Southern Mt. Shasta Trinity Forest Trails

  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is about an hour south from Lake Shasta and features a large lake. There are two wheelchair accessible fishing piers, open all year, located at Whiskey Creek and Oak Bottom. The Guardian Rock Trail is wheelchair accessible with paved pathway and leads to an overlook. The one-way trail is basically flat. An accessible vaulted toilet is at Horse Camp (trailhead).
  • Sacramento River Trail at Sundial Bridge.
  • Sacramento River Trail Through Caldwell and Lake Redding Parks
  • South Sacramento River Trail Head, off North Court Street.
  • Sacramento River Trail (north section) Behind the Elks and Lake Redding Estates
  • Turtle Bay East Open Space; at the north end of North Bechelli Lane
  • Clover Creek Preserve. Off Shasta View Drive south of Highway 44
  • Lema Ranch Trail System off Shasta View Drive
  • Sacramento River Rail Trail off Iron Mt. Road
  • Palisades Trail at the end of Palisades Avenue off Hilltop Drive
  • John Reginato River Access is located at the South Bonnyview Bridge off South Bonnyview Road, and has been modified with accessible parking, restrooms and platform over the river. 

Northern Mt. Shasta Trinity Forest Trails

  • Greenhorn Park Trail: Located just outside the city of Yreka, and is a lovely spot loved by locals, especially in the spring and fall. The trail around Greenhorn Reservoir is wheelchair accessible, and some of the other trails may be wheelchair enough for some people. 
  • Klamath National Forest is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Mt. Shasta City with a wheelchair accessible trail and access to camping sites. The Taylor Lake Trailhead is most wheelchair accessible trail, including the parking and modified vaulted toilet. The Tree of Heaven Campground has a firmly-packed trail surface.   
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