Mount Eddy peeks through the trees at a vigorous stretch of the Sacramento River.
I have been writing a lot lately about the Sacramento River’s activity near the Lake Siskiyou inlet. In large measure this is a result of my fascination with the history of water in the western United States (if you haven’t read Cadillac Desert, you really should). The Sacramento River is one of the linchpins of the hydrologic infrastructure in California as well as the state’s largest and longest river. Yet it is often overlooked that this most critical piece in the Golden State’s puzzle begins here in the Mount Shasta area. Indeed, though many people enjoy Lake Siskiyou or fish the river, we often forget what a powerful and important presence the river is in this area. Strangely enough, despite its relatively short length, it is often the McCloud River, with its excellent waterfalls, that is often thought of as the river of the Mount Shasta area.
Though there are probably several reasons why the Sacramento River is not appreciated as it ought to be (almost no trails along it!), I think one of the most significant is the fact that the river is perpetually overshadowed by the large mountains that rise above it. The Castle Crags, Mount Eddy and Mount Shasta all command attention and respect and the Sacramento, lacking waterfalls and its box canyon damed up, does not boast many notable features (we really need a trail to Mossbrae Falls!) to attract people to it. It is thus ironic that the Sacramento River offers some of the best views of the three most notable mountains that rise above it. It is a remarkable showcase of the amazing topography that lies at the source of California’s most important river. This, perhaps, is the river’s iconic feature but it has managed to somehow go unnoticed. This needs to be rectified.
The Castle Crags can often be hard to view from afar but the Sacramento River has spectacular vistas of the granite spires.
Mount Eddy, on whose slopes the North Fork of the Sacramento is born, is often best viewed from the Sacramento River.
Mount Shasta can be viewed from almost anywhere but the kinetic fury of the Sacramento River adds a marvelous dimension to the massive mountain.
It continues to amaze me that there is only one developed trail that runs parallel to the Sacramento River. As these images reveal, there are numerous magnificent views of the mountains around the river waiting to be explored, discovered and enjoyed. In my last post, I brought up the possibility of extending the Lake Siskiyou Trail upstream, following the river on both sides and then crossing it by means of a permanent bridge. This would open up some of the most scenic sections of the river to hikers. It would also facilitate more exploration and rock scrambling as people explored the numerous channels the river splits into once the three forks have all combined. There is a lot of memories and beauty waiting to be appreciated along that section of the Sacramento River.
Click to enlarge: