Most Extreme Winter Adventures in Mt. Shasta, California


No, they no longer offer dogsled tours, but Mt. Shasta, California (about 40 miles south of the Oregon border) still lives and breaths winter. The area includes one of the best ski parks in the state, winter hiking and snowshoe trails and lakes that are accessible -- relatively speaking -- during winter. Sure, the weather can cause some tie-ups -- and it seems like Interstate 5, which runs through Mt. Shasta City -- is shut down at least two or three times each year. But, that's what you expect when you live in a mountain community. And the payoff is well worth it. The ample yearly snowfall provides plenty of great winter adventures in the area. Below are the best ones.

Nordic Skiing
A ski mountaineer takes in the view while climbing Mount Shasta at sunrise, CA.
Rachid Dahnoun

You can't get much more adventurous during winter than going backcountry skiing. There are miles and miles of backcountry ski trails on this Northern California mountain that is more than 14,000 feet high. The Mt. Shasta Nordic Organization, a local nonprofit group, located at 765 S Mt Shasta Blvd., Mt Shasta, oversees, marks and grooms these Nordic trails that attract skiers from all over Northern California and Southern Oregon. The group also offers rentals and even lessons. So strap on your skis and head for the backcountry of Mt. Shasta for one of the best winter adventures in the area.

See a Frozen Lake and the Backcountry

Yes, it sounds overly touristy, but Mt. Shasta Vortex Adventures will take you to see many sights that you might not otherwise be able to get to during winter -- or worse, you might find yourself stuck in the snow if you don't know how to navigate the icy mountain roads. For example, Vortex will take you up to see frozen Castle Lake, several miles above the more well-known Lake Siskiyou, which is also well worth seeing during winter. But, Castle Lake is worth the extra few miles. You'll drive up winding roads -- it's literally a 47-minute drive (or more if it's icy) up winding, mountain roads from the city of Mt. Shasta. You'll travel past pine-tree-lined hills, and of course see Lake Siskiyou, as you make your way up. Once you get to the top, you'll see an icy, beautiful gem -- a crystal-clear lake nestled among the pines way up in the mountains. But, unless you know your way, it's certainly best to have a guide take you to this beautiful lake. Vortex also offers winter hiking, backcountry ski and snowshoe tours, as well as scenic vehicle tours -- plenty of opportunities to get adventurous during winter.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park

Yes, it's a ski park -- and you can find those anywhere in the country where there are mountains and snow. So, what's the big deal? Well, this ski park may be one of the most quaint you've ever seen -- and it's a bit of an adventure just to get there. You need to take Interstate 5 south to Highway 89 east from for a total of 9 miles -- which will take you more than half an hour to navigate; that's how windy the roads are. But you can certainly make the drive along this pine-tree-lined highway, which is worth the adventure just by itself. But, once you get to the park, you'll have your choice of night skiing, snowboarding and more. The Mt. Shasta High Ski & Snowboard Team practices on this mountain, and it's one of the best high school teams in the state -- that's got to tell you something about the park. Do check the road conditions and park website before you go, though. It snows so much in the Mt. Shasta area that the park recently closed for a day due to too much snow. But, don't worry; the park tells us to have our skis ready for "epic" skiing at the park -- once the roads clear.

Leon Teeboom is a writer, editor and educator who has lived in Northern California for 10 years. He has written and edited articles that have been published in "The Los Angeles Times," "Orange County Register" and several online publications.