The Shasta Cascade region is one of a kind. The collection of waterfalls, trails, mountains, caves, rivers, museums and other landmarks provides a good starting point for Northern California explorers. We went a little more in depth in our investigation of many of the places so that you’ll know what you’re getting into when you decide to visit them.
Start making plans to cross off your Shasta Cascade bucket list by learning a little more about our 10 favorite destinations in the region:
Lassen Volcanic National Park along with its central feature Lassen Peak occupy a special place in the hearts of North State residents. The often overlooked (nationally) landmark has played an important role in the cultural and geological history of the area. Depending on the time of day, season or area of the park, Lassen can represent many things to many people. Through numerous articles about the national park, we’ve tried to cover it from all angles.
2. The Three Tiers of McCloud Falls
The three tiers of McCloud Falls – Upper, Middle and Lower – provides visitors one of the best outdoor experiences in NorCal. It’s a beautiful hike to see all three waterfalls and in the summer months there is some great opportunities for swimming and recreation.
Never been to McCloud Falls? Check out this video from California Through My Lensthat shows you the beauty of the area:
It really is one of the great destinations in NorCal.
A flowing phantom haunts Table Mountain near Oroville. It disappears during the summer, and remains well hidden in remote Coal Canyon the rest of the year. The lucky few that stumble upon it boast of its sinister beauty. A narrow cascade reaching 134 feet to the bottom of Coal Canyon, Phantom Falls seems most drawn to the wet, gloomy months of winter (only fitting right?).
When dark clouds clear for a few days and wildflower displays are at their height February-April, Phantom Falls is one of the best spectacles in the North State.
Unfortunately, getting to Phantom Falls is about as hard as finding an actual phantom. No established trail leads to the landmark, which sometimes necessitates the use of a GPS or compass to find it (Lat/Long: 39.61041, -121.56063). Hikers also need to proceed with caution through the area to avoid trespassing or trampling over wildflowers.
Read about the Phantom of the Falls – A Great Winter Spectacle
The tour begins with a long; long downhill hike to the patio boat that carries you to the other side of the McCloud River arm of the Shasta Lake. With so little water behind the dam this summer, the hike takes longer than usual. Once you arrive at water level, the boat ride is wonderful. Though Shasta Caverns is only a short drive north of Redding, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it really is. Maybe that’s the point.
When you reach the other side, you are instantly reminded that the cave is another long hike back uphill, only you aren’t quite at the cave entrance yet. The hike takes you to a staging area where you climb aboard vans that transport you to the cave entrance. Along the way the guide talks about some of the fascinating history of the cave, how it was used by Native Americans, “discovered” by white people, made safe for tourists and opened to the public. It was no small feat.
Everybody loves Hatchet Falls (or Lions Slide Falls, depending on who you ask). A Montgomery Creek swimming hole, Hatchet Creek cascades down creating Lion Slide Falls and a large pool beneath. It’s one of the most recognizable, as well as most popular, swimming holes in NorCal. Its familiarity amongst locals is most certainly due to the giant fallen tree that lays right in the middle of the falls, creating a makeshift stairway for swimmers to climb and jump into the water. At Hatchet Creek, kids can swim around in a shallower area formed by a dam. The waterfall and creek are easily accessible after a short trail walk. It’s the perfect place to spend a summer day.
6. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Note: Parts of Whiskeytown remained closed following the Carr Fire. Please check updates before visiting the area.
The park’s central feature, sapphire-blue Whiskeytown Lake, accommodates kayaking, SUP boarding, sailing, swimming, speedboating, fishing, cliff jumping and more. It’s not just a lake though, the recreation area’s trails stretch over 60 miles, and lead to numerous sublime waterfalls. The trail system is also perfect for mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers. In addition, camping Whiskeytown during the summer is an absolute must if live in NorCal.
Read all about hiking the majestic waterfalls of Whiskeytown
Similar to hideout entrances seen in Batman movies and the Legend of Zorro, Hedge Creek Falls cascades in front of the passage to a 12-foot-high cave. The narrow waterfall hardly obscures the not-so-secret cave meaning that you won’t stumble upon any masked heroes on your trip to the feature. Still, the trip the Hedge Creek Falls is well worth the drive the Dunsmuir, CA. Along with the waterfall, visitors can take in incredible views of the Sacramento River and Mt. Shasta from the Hedge Creek Falls Trail.
Read all about the hike to Hedge Creek Falls
8. Burney Falls
We’ve spent a lot of time admiring NorCal’s king of all waterfalls, Burney Falls. We’ve asked the question “did Tarzan dive off of Burney Falls?” We also showed you it is possible to jump off of Burney Falls (although very, very dangerous and very illegal). But getting enough of the NorCal destination that President Theodore Roosevelt named the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” isn’t possible.
Located just north of Redding between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta in California’s lava country, is famous for its 129-foot waterfall, which cascades from Burney Creek down into Lake Britton. The falls are a sacred place for the Pit River Indian Tribe, who have held ceremonial rituals here for thousands of years.
Read all about the Eighth Wonder of the World – Burney Falls
9. The Three Shastas
Everyone knows the best way to spend a day on Shasta Lake is on a houseboat. You simply can’t argue otherwise. When I think of houseboats on the lake I think of family, friends, water-sports, BBQ’s, sun-tan lotion and waking up with the sunrise.
Shasta Lake’s 365 miles of shoreline trumps its California competition, and it’s not even close – that’s including Lake Oroville, Trinity Lake, Lake Berryessa, Lake Almanor and Lake Tahoe. The fact of the matter, Shasta Lake remains the gold standard of large reservoirs in our region
Proposed in the first quarter of the 20th century, the dam was meant to better manage waterways through the droughts and flooding in the central valley. The soon-to-be submerged town of Kennett hosted the dam’s groundbreaking ceremony in 1937.
Before construction could begin, millions of tons of bedrock had to be cleared from the construction site. Workers lived in a nearby site called “Contractor’s Camp,” which was equipped with a huge mess hall, rec center and hospital. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, many of the workers went off to war causing a shortage of laborers. Women and students filled in, and the dam ended up serving an important role on the eastern front as it provided power to many factories in the central part of the state. Construction wrapped up in 1944 meaning that the structure was completed nearly 26 months ahead of schedule. Even now, almost 70 years later, the dam serves a vital role in the regulation of California water.
Read more about the history behind Shasta Dam’s Essential Role in California Water
What can we say about Mount Shasta that hasn’t been documented heavily on this site? The Crown of California is as beautiful as it is a mystery to everyone who gets close to it. It’s the perfect outdoor playground for anyone, giving majestic slopes and tributaries to anyone that comes in its path.
Learn all about the Crown of California – Mount Shasta
10. Mossbrae Falls
Mossbrae Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Mt. Shasta/Dunsmuir area due to its incredibly unique features. Let’s just say, it’s not your typical waterfall. The difference between Mossbrae Falls and other NorCal waterfalls is that it seems the rock and moss are continually bleeding fresh, mountain water. It’s a sight to behold.
Mossbrae Falls is actually a series of springs that burst from the cliffs above the Sacramento River and then rain down into the water. Mossbrae Falls is composed of two primary clusters of spring-fed waterfalls, which reach about 50 feet high and 150 feet wide. The presence of the river beneath the falls enhances the scene and makes for one of the prettiest sights in the Mount Shasta area. There are numerous springs feeding the falls so they are great year-round.