Mount Shasta towers majestically above the Gateway Trail.
The Gateway Trail Phase II environmental studies are now completed and available for review. This massive project expands the existing Gateway Trail system from 14 miles to approximately 60 miles. Most of the trails are intended to be mixed-use trails, designed for hikers and mountain bikers, though the latter does receive the emphasis in this particular project. Once completed, this trail network will likely put Mount Shasta “on the map” as far as mountain biking is concerned. In addition to the new trail, 4 new trailheads will be established and the McBridge Springs Campground will be expanded. It certainly opens up a host of possibilities for hikers and mountain bikers.
My review of the project can be read here. The original proposal map is below:
After going over the studies’ findings, it appears the project has not been significantly altered from the form in which it was initially presented though there are two noteworthy changes.
The first is a small omission from the proposed trail route. In northern part of the trail network, the map indicates that a short spur trail ascends a large rock formation known as Morning Star Knoll or Rooster Rock. This short section of trail would lead hikers (it is hard for me to envision bikes making it up the rock) to a spot that would have fantastic views of both the valley and mountains to the west as well as the upper regions of Mount Shasta itself. Unfortunately, directly adjacent to the rock is a small parcel of private land. I am confident there were concerns over privacy and the ability of hikers and bikers being able to look down on the land below. While this is an unfortunate loss for the trail network, it seems like a reasonable alteration.
The altered trail plan can be seen below:
As if to compensate the loss of an interesting section of trail, there is also an addition of a new section of trail designated specifically for hikers. Dubbed the “Sisson Southern Trail”, after the name of the route when it once was used to connect the town of Mount Shasta with Horse Camp, it would offer an alternate hiking route where hikers would not have to contend with the possibility of encountering bikes. The trail would connect the current Gateway trailhead with the McBride Springs campground. This would make an excellent bonus for the entire project.
In the proposal
Speaking of the McBride Springs campground, it will indeed be expanded. This is a much needed addition to camping capacity along the Everitt Memorial Highway. With the addition of a new trailhead directly across the road, this campground will no doubt increase in popularity significantly and the additional sites will help absorb this. I think it is likely that demand will outstrip the additional sites rather quickly.
Given the likely increase in popularity, I think even more camping somewhere in the Gateway vicinity would be a good addition. Establishing a new campground in the plantations along the road to the Black Butte Trailhead would be a good idea. This would potentially have the side benefit of increasing the number of eyes in the area and, thereby, hopefully decrease the number encampments that develop in that area.
Overall, I think the project is fantastic. I am excited to see work begin and for the trails to be completed. It’s going to be a blast exploring over the next few years!