Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou
It’s wintertime in NorCal, with fresh snow draping the beautiful mountains of California’s Far North and giving a brand new perspective on the beauty of Northern California. For some, it’s a time to nestle up next to a fire and enjoy some relaxing time. For others, it’s time to try out a brand-new batch of adventure.
With snow covering the high-elevation terrain in Siskiyou County, there are so many winter activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether your a skiing aficionado, searching for a winter waterfall, aspiring to try a showshoe hike or simply looking for the best food and drink in the area, there’s literally something for everyone.
Let’s button up, put on our gloves and beanies and head up to Siskiyou County for the ultimate winter bucket list:
Siskiyou Ice Rink
Whether it’s a sunny day under the shadow of Mt. Shasta or a cold night under bright, illuminating stars, the Siskiyou Ice Rink is one of a kind in our community. Heck, it’s one of a kind in the world.
As a Northern California resident, skating on a beautiful outdoor ice rink seems foreign. When you add to the spectacle the stunning view of Mount Shasta constantly hovering above, you realize that this isn’t just another ice rink. The Siskiyou Ice Rink is a gem in NorCal – and a frozen one at that.
Visit Mt. Shasta Ski Park
Probably the most popular winter activity near Redding is to go for a ride down the slopes of Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Just over an hour drive from Redding, the locally owned ski resort is a great place for the whole family during the wintertime. Whether you want to ski a black diamond, go tubing down the mountain or just relax with a hot chocolate in the lodge, this really is the best place for a winter adventure in the area.
The ski resorts boasts three main ski lifts with 425 acres of skiable terrain across 1,435 vertical feet. There’s also a bunny slope for the newbies and tubing for the kiddos. For the adventurous skiers or snowboarders, there are three terrain parks (depending on conditions) for the beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Heck, you can also stay in a slopeside cabin and ride all the backcountry your heart desires!
Snowshoe a Waterfall
It’s wintertime in Northern California, possibly having you believe that it’s not the time of year to visit your favorite waterfalls. Think again. The winter provides a wonderful experience to go chasing waterfalls and if you have the right equipment, you can see them in their full glory without anyone around.
We all know that Siskiyou County has some of the best waterfall experiences around and if you can navigate them in the winter, you’re in for quite a treat. When there’s snow on the ground, which there likely will be this time of year, snowshoes are a great way to see your favorite waterfalls in a winter wonderland scenario.
Visit a Brewery
There are few things that hand-in-hand with the outdoors, but as we’ve learned over the years, there’s nothing quite like a craft beer after a long hike or a day on the mountain. There are 5 breweries in Siskiyou County that serve up some delicious suds – Paystreak Brewing, Etna Brewery, Mt. Shasta Brewing, Siskiyou brew Works and Dunsmuir Brewery Works.
With Siskiyou County’s endless opportunity for outdoor adventure, it also packs with it some of the best craft beer in Northern California. The five breweries of Far NorCal make for a great trail to explore the vast and beautiful region of Siskiyou County.
Snowshoe to Heart Lake
Covered in a thick blanket of snow, Heart Lake virtually disappears in the winter. Familiar summer landmarks are transformed into barren beauty, and the relatively easy hike becomes more of a trudge. However, the views of Castle Lake and beyond are phenomenal as always.
We’ve determined that Heart Lake is possibly the best view in NorCal, and a trip in the winter, although a more difficult trek, provides a completely different and unique experience. You’ll most likely find yourself all alone, enjoying views of Mount Shasta, Black Butte and Castle Lake covered in snow. You’ll also encounter a frozen Heart Lake, which not many people will see in their lifetime. It might be a difficult trek to the top, but it’s well worth the winter experience.
Snowmobile Mount Shasta
Exhilarating, breathless and thrilling are just some of the words used to describe snowmobiling the backcountry in Siskiyou County. Deer Mountain Snowpark is a winter adventurer’s paradise with over 250 miles of snowmobile trails leading you deep into Siskiyou forest areas and providing you with stunning views of the wilderness and natural habitat. To rent snowmobiles, check out Fun Factory Rentals that offers equipment as well as guided tours.
Grab a Mouth-Watering Burger
We all know the many reasons to visit Siskiyou County. The incredible outdoors destinations, waterfalls and recreation activities provide all you might need to venture into California’s North. And while you’re there, it’s probably a good idea to grab some delicious grub.
There’s a ton of good food all around Siskiyou, but after a long winter adventure the best way to refuel the tank is a juicy burger. Luckily for you, they have those in spades.
Hike into an Ancient Lava Tube
The evidence of Mount Shasta’s volcanic history can be see up front and personal at Pluto’s Cave, a 190,000 year old lava tube. The cave is full of big skylights allowing hikers to descend underground without a flashlight and offer some stunning lighting for any photographer.
Pluto’s Cave is actually comprised of several caves, due to the original lava tube collapsing in parts. It now resembles three smaller caves that are easily accessible. The first cave is dusty, and smells faintly musty, no doubt due to the water seeping through the cavern roof. The second tube has a collapse that forms a hole in the roof, allowing for light to pour into the relative darkness. This is a popular location for photographers, as it bathes a subject in a cone of light or can be used to shoot photos of the night sky through.
Stay at a Unique Hotel
There is no lack of adventure in Siskiyou County. From the mighty Mount Shasta to the seemingly endless stream of pristine waterways and waterfalls, there’s something for everyone in the area.
Of course, if you come to visit one of the world-renown outdoor destinations, you’re going to need a place to stay. The awesome part about Siskiyou County is you’re not going to find the typical hotel that you’d find elsewhere. The quaint towns don’t have sprawling Hilton and Marriott skyscrapers, but rather smaller ranches and resorts that will give you an experience unique to the area.
So if you’re looking for a getaway in the outdoor utopia that is Siskiyou County, we’ve found thew perfect ones for you!
Cross Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are just two of the unique experiences that can navigate you through some of Siskiyou’s backcountry areas. Head on over to the Mt. Shasta Nordic Center to explore their expanded 7.5-mile network of packed trails. You can rent snowshoes and lightweight gear there or at any one of the several stores in the area. You’ll have a great time laying your own tracks on the snowy trails of Mount Shasta’s backcountry.
For advice on how to make the most of a snowshoe adventure there, visit here.
Take a Historical Audio Tour
In the 1870’s, the national headlines set there eyes on the Modoc War, a bloody battle between the army and Modoc Tribe in what is now eastern Siskiyou County. The Modoc’s turned out to be a vicious opponent, with the 6-month battle becoming one of the costliest wars in United States history in terms of lives lost and dollars spent per enemy combatant.
Now, you can experience an immersive tour experience through the area to see the crucial geographical points of the war with narration from a Modoc descendant.
A free GPS-enabled immersive audio tour is now available, which will walk you through the details of the Modoc War from Klamath Falls to the Lava Beds National Monument. On the tour, you’ll discover the roots of the Modoc War, hear Modoc and settler stories, and learn what life was like during this turbulent episode in American history. The tour will take you through the remote areas of Siskiyou County so crucial during the war, including Captain Jack’s Stronghold, Petroglyph Point and Hospital Rock.
Sledding at Snowman’s Hill
Anybody that grew up in the area most likely has a memory of sledding at Snowman’s Hill in Mount Shasta. The designated sledding hill, located on Highway 89 right across the road from the Ski Park Highway, is usually packed with enthusiastic sledders on a snowy weekend day. The average run is about 300 feet and there are ample parking and bathrooms for visitors.
A Trip to the Lava Beds National Monument
Sitting in the the tippy-top of Northern California is one of the most beautiful, historical parks in all of California. Combining geology with history and just good ol’ fashioned outdoor beauty, this rugged terrain is one of NorCal’s most fascinating and underrated outdoor destinations.
The Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geologic and historic. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. Lava tube caves, Native American sites, historic battlefields and a high desert wilderness experience highlight an adventurous trip to the park.
Enjoy your winter adventure in Siskiyou County!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine