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Castle Crags is a cool stopover ... and a lesson in geology.

Like a well-illustrated geology lesson, the varied landforms around Castle Crags State Park show what happens when the sedimentary klamath Mountains meet the volcanic Cascade Range. The resulting landscapes are easy to see on a variety of day-hikes--including some on new trails--in this accessible park along Interstate 5, 48 miles north of Redding.

If you're driving I-5 this summer, you may be slowed by roadwork near Shasta Lake; Castle Crags offers a cool stopover. With August temperatures in the 90s, the park's 2-mile rock-strewn stretch of the cold Sacramento River is tempting for wading, riverside picnicking, and fishing for rainbow trout.

Runoff from a good snowpack on Mount Shasta means river levels are expected to be at or near normal this summer (but mosquito levels are expected to be up).

Easy strolls to arduous climbs

Some 15 miles of park trails provide choices; elevations begin at 2,000 feet and rise to 6,000 feet at Castle Dome. Carry plenty of water, especially on the higher Crags and Pacific Crest trails, which have spectacular vistas but no shade.

Easy. Indian Creek Nature Trail; 1-mile loop. From headquarters, the level, shaded walk crosses a small creek. Add a jog on the new 3/4-mile Flume Trail along a historic watercourse.

Moderate. Vista Point loop; 5 miles. A new trail links four trails in a loop that allows great views of Mount Shasta without steep climbs. At every junction, turn left. From Vista Point parking area, take Crags Trail down through ponderosa pine, then the Pacific Crest Trail across Kettlebelly Ridge. The PCT climbs gently for 1/2 mile, with great viewsof the valley below. Head onto Bob's Hat Trail, then onto a wide fire road for 1.2 miles. Cross the paved park road and pick up the new Kettlebelly Trail on the other side; it curves around the hillside to the PCT, offering views of Shasta. Follow the PCT back to the Crags Trail and Vista Point.

Difficult. Crags Trail to Castle Dome; 5 1/2 miles up and back. From Vista Point, take Crags Trail to its end, gaining some 2,250 feet in elevation. After about 2 miles, you're in Castle Crags Wilderness, where the rock monkeys hang out, drawn by the difficult terrain. Once at the crags, enjoy your well-earned view--snowcapped Mount Shasta, a meandering line of small lava ones, I-5 snaking into the valley. Backtrack to return.

Camping ... with bears?

Since the park is so close to I-5, its 64 developed campsites ($14 per night) fill rapidly; reserve well ahead through Mistix: (800) 444-7275. Six environmental (hike-in) sites are scattered through the park; no reservations are accepted.

Last summer, black bears raided the main camp nightly but no park visitors were harmed. In this fifth drought year, bear visits are expected to increase; secure food and garbage properly.

Day use costs $5 per car. Castle Crags State Park is 28 miles north of O'Brien, on Shasta Lake, and about 80 miles south of the Oregon border (6 miles south of Dunsmuir). From Interstate 5, take the Castella exit.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Castle Crags State Park, California
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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