Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hiking Mt. Shasta

Since we have rarely been to Northern California, we decided to explore the hikes and waterfalls around Mt. Shasta. I have often driven by Mt. Shasta and Lake Shasta, on my way from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon many times, but never stopped.

We started our drive to Mt. Shasta in the late afternoon from San Jose. The drive to McCloud (near Mt. Shasta) was uneventful and took about 4.5 hours. I was surprised by how low in the water Lake Shasta was, I have never seen it this low. The drought in California must be very severe. Usually, there is a lot of activity on Lake Shasta - people water skiing - but this time there was very little.

Inna made one day reservations at McCloud hotel - an older, authentic hotel in the small logging town of McCloud, California. She could only make  a reservation for one night - as all other days were booked.

For dinner, we stopped at Trinity Cafe (rated highly on Yelp).  We sat outside on the porch. There were a few other people there as well, but overall. the restaurant was not very busy.

I ordered the "Zucchini Curry" cold soup and a "King Salmon" entree with a Guinness beer.

Inna ordered  "Pan Seared Scallops" appetizer and a "Smoked Salmon Risotto" for the main course.

For dessert, we shared a ginger Creme Brulee. All of the dishes were delicious, but a bit expensive. However, we really enjoyed our dinner there and would happily go back there again.

The McCloud hotel we stayed in is really a bed & breakfast. We liked the staff's hospitality and enjoyed the morning breakfast, especially the lemon ricotta pancakes.

We also liked the granola (although yogurt was not available).

After breakfast, we decided to explore the McCloud waterfalls. We drove 15 minutes from the hotel to the McCloud Lower waterfalls.

We started our hike at the lower McCloud waterfall and hiked upwards toward the middle waterfall. The middle McCloud waterfall is truly spectacular.

Here is a short video clip of the waterfall:

We scrambled over rocks to get a closer look. We thought about swimming in front of the waterfall but the water was a bit cold - about 48 F. Afterwards, we continued our hike uphill toward the upper McCloud waterfall. The hike was about 3.8 miles long roundtrip, and took us about 3 hours to complete (we had many stops where we scrambled rocks to get closer to the waterfalls). We saw a brave couple (barefoot) climbing to the top of Middle McCloud waterfalls and then jumping 40 feet down near the fall.

We continued our hike to the Upper McCloud Waterfall (only a miles up). While not as spectacular as the Middle McCloud Waterfall, it was also quite beautiful.

There were a few people sunbathing and swimming in the water below the waterfall.

As we walked uphill, we reached the end of the McCloud Waterfall trail and took a few photos of the stream. It's a very scenic place.

Afterwards, we decided to go McArthur-Burney Falls State Park highly recommended by our hotel. The drive there took about 45 minutes.

When we arrived, we explored the spectacular Burney waterfall. Here is a short video clip of the Burney watefall:

As we were hungry, we purchased some sandwiches from the General Store. Then, we continued on the "Falls Loop Trail"  toward the bottom of the waterfall, and then towards the lake on the "Rim Trail" toward Lake Britton".  There was a lot of mist coming off the waterfall and the air was much cooler.

The hike continued past a beautiful bridge crossing the stream that fed Lake Britton. There was no need to cross the bridge but there were nice lookouts from it.

As we continued our walk, we walked past lots of tall trees. Inna even spotted a red billed woodpecker, but I was not quick enough to take a photo of it.

 Lake Britton is a large, beautiful lake and has a boat launch were one can rent canoes, kayaks, and motorboats. There was a small area for swimming, but not too many people were in the water. The water is fairly cold here, even in August. Lake Britton would be ideal for kayaking or even water skiing. We hope to come here again.

For dinner, we stopped at the Wayside Grill. The service was a bit slow and the entrees we ordered were mediocre. The pizza we ordered - Neesie's Favorite - was pretty lousy ( we did not like the dough) and it doesn't compare to our local Pizza My Heart in Los Gatos. The Lobster bisque soup was tolerable and my Caesar salad was not bad. The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was the highlight of the dinner. I would not come here again.

The next two nights, we stayed at the Best Western in Mt. Shasta. It's not a bad hotel with free WiFi.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the Best Western. It was quite mediocre - scrambled eggs, sausage, and waffles. The breakfast was edible but thankfully free.

After breakfast, we drove to Mt. Shasta, about 30 minute away, to hike some beautiful trails. We decided to hike up to Gray Butte - a recommended hike with overlooks on Mt. Shasta. The hike started at the Panther Meadow playground and continued 2.4 miles to the Gray Butte peak -  600 foot elevation gain.

The hike was moderately strenuous and Inna needed to take a few breaks to rest.

After the hike, we stopped by at Bunny Flats on the way back to town. We did not see anything special at Bunny Flats so we did not stay too long. We continued back to town and stopped for lunch at Mt. Shasta Pastries.

I ordered a "Turkey Reuben Sandwich" and a Clam Chowder soup.

The clam chowder was a bit thin (I expected it to be a bit thicker) but tasted good. We also ordered an Apple turnover and a macaroon for dessert.

 The pastries were pretty good but not at the level of Fleur de Cocoa in Los Gatos.

After lunch, we decided to explore Heart Lake - a lake highly recommended in our tourist brochure - so we drove to the Castle Lake campground (which is the nearest point near Heart Lake). There were many cars in the parking lot and lots of people kayaking on the Castle Lake.

The hike to Heart Lake was supposed to take about 30 minutes from Castle Lake. For us, it took a lot longer than anticipated as it was difficult to stay on trail (with so many alternative trails all around).

There were places with  many large boulders on the way to Heart Lake.

Here is a view of Castle Lake from an trail to Heart Lake.

We ended up at an beautiful overlook on Castle Lake but could not find Heart Lake. My iPhone's GPS showed Heart Lake due North so we ended up scrambling upwards over rocks until eventually arriving at Heart Lake.

 It was a nice looking, small lake, but not really what we expected. The tour guide talked about how Heart Lake was a great place for swimming, but it seemed to me a small lake - not any better than the Castle Lake below. We saw a few dogs swimming in the Heart Lake and enjoyed the beautifully scenery. We found the proper trail back to Castle Lake and followed it.

Our trail back was quite easy and we returned to Castle Lake in half an hour. Inna decided to go for a swim and she swam for a few minutes in the beautiful Castle Lake.

This is a very beautiful lake with a rocky cliff - kind of like a castle wall. It's a great lake for kayaking, canoeing, or swimming. Next time, I plan to bring some watercraft to enjoy this lake further.

From Castle Lake, we drove to Lake Siskiyou. This is a much larger lake than Castle Lake and also quite beautiful.

We saw some people swimming and a few people on motor boats. This would be another great place to swim or kayak.

Inna went for another swim there and liked it a lot. After the swim, we went for a short stroll along the shore.

 The trail along the shore was well shaded and flat - just the kind of trail than Inna really likes.

For dinner, we decided to eat dinner at Lily's Restaurant - a restaurant highly recommended on Yelp. I ordered a "Steak Au Poivre" and Inna ordered the "Herb Stuffed Fresh Trout" entree.

Inna's "Herb Stuffed Fresh Trout"  was very well prepared and tasted delicious. Fresh trout is locally caught in the area.

We enjoyed our dinner and hope to be back to Lily's Restaurant again (when we're back in Mt. Shasta).



Very nice pictures! Food looks very delicious......
Mount Shasta Tours