Mount Shasta City is a community with an enviable location. Situated at the foot of the eponymously named stratovolcano, it is blessed with incredible views of Mount Shasta, Black Butte, Mount Eddy and much of the rest of the Trinity Divide. Surrounded by large vast forests and boasting numerous spring-fed creeks, it is a classic western mountain town. It is also enviably close to an abundance of spectacular trails that beckon hikers to explore the mountains on that surround the town. The Everitt Memorial Highway, which climbs to a handful of trailheads high on Mount Shasta, and South Fork Road, a paved route cutting into the heart of the Trinity Divide, are accessed via Mount Shasta City. There are even great trails scattered around the town itself, offering residents and visitors alike the opportunity to hit the trail only minutes from the downtown area. However, there are times when it is good to get out for a shorter walk or driving to a high mountain trailhead is not a good option. When this is the case, a short, scenic trail is a great option and Mount Shasta City has a trio of fantastic short paths. Two of the paths follow different sections of Big Springs Creek. The third trail crosses a beautiful, spring laden meadow with incredible views of Mount Shasta. If time is short or something short and leisurely is in order, these three paths fit the bill perfectly.
Mount Shasta City Park Trail
Easily the most well-known of the three short trails in Mount Shasta City, the path that winds through the city park is great for a short walk with kids or just to enjoy the cold waters of Big Springs Creek. The springs are locally famous and folks often line up to fill bottles and jugs of the cold, clean water. The sight of the large creek emerging fully-formed from the earth is impressive. From the springs’ observation area a paved path heads into the park, passing picnic tables, a barbecue and a playground. To the right, a wooden bridge is visible crossing the creek. Cross the bridge and follow the path as it winds through woods and crosses a series of smaller bridges. This area reveals that the large springs are only the biggest in a set of springs that line the north end of the city park. At this point there are various paths one can follow. Some stay close to the creek and others emerge from the trees in a meadow-like area. The only downside is the proximity to the freeway. All of the various routes reconvene at another, larger bridge which again crosses Big Springs Creek. From here a paved path cuts through the large lawn back to the springs.
Location: At the north end of Mount Shasta City, off of North Mount Shasta Boulevard.
Elsa Rupp Nature Trail
Like the path in the Mount Shasta City Park, this trail also parallels Big Springs Creek. However, while the other park is well-known, well-developed and busy, the Elsa Rupp Trail is little known and is blessed with a great deal of tranquility, a result of the minimal development at the preserve. The creek is the centerpiece of the park. From the parking area follow the path through dense forest. After crossing a plank bridge over a periodic stream hang a left on the wide dirt road to reach a bridge crossing over the wide creek. This is, in fact, not Big Springs Creek itself but the bulk of the creek’s water being diverted to the nearby fish hatchery. Follow the channel to where it emerges from a culvert and then follow the sound to the small dam and diversion chute. Cross a bridge here and follow the trail through thick growth to another crossing of the creek, this time the full breadth of Big Springs Creek. It is a very scenic spot. Beyond the crossing, follow the trail through the woods to another junction with the dirt road. Rather than follow the road back to the trailhead, turn right and return to the dam and follow the diversion channel back. It is much more scenic than staying on the road.
Location: Off of Old Stage Road, just north of the intersection with W. Lake St.
Sisson Meadow Trail
Hidden in the middle of Mount Shasta City, the Siskiyou Land Trust’s Sisson Meadow Trail is a short jewel of a trail. Most of the trail consists of a long boardwalk across an open, spring-filled meadow. Epic, 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains include Mount Shasta, Black Butte, Mount Eddy, the high peaks of the Castle Crags Wilderness and Battle Rock, the high point of the Castle Crags proper. The trail starts by climbing up some rock steps and then crosses a short bridge. A small waterfall is visible in a narrow glen. The trail then arcs through dense growth to the beginning of the boardwalk. The boardwalk parallels the small creek and crosses a few more spring-fed streams before it makes a long curve to the north. It then arrives at an alternate trailhead, once the site of an iconic barn. The boardwalk then continues across the meadow. Benches provide convenient spots for contemplation. The boardwalk eventually reaches a small pond that is home to ducks and geese. Mount Shasta towers overhead and makes an attractive, if filtered, reflection in the water. The path continues on to the junior high school but the pond marks the end of the scenic part of the trail.
Location: On Alder St. two block east of Mount Shasta Boulevard and just north of Lake St.