Mount Shasta Mine Trail (Redding, CA) 16-Apr-2017

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Months ago, when we made plans to do some Spring hiking in northern and central California, our one (small) concern was that we might miss some great Southern Oregon hiking weather while we were away wandering the Golden State. But this concern dissipated (or was washed away, so to speak) as winter here refused to end and continued to shower its wet bounty upon us with storm after storm after storm.  So, as our planned departure date approached, and the weather forecasts for California started including unfamiliar terms like “sunshine” and “warmth” and “gentle breezes,” our need to drive south in search of this meteorological nirvana took on a lemming-like intensity.  So, after the LovedOne finished her Saturday volunteer stint at the library, we jumped in the car and lit out for Redding, California.


The next morning there was still some moisture in the old weather sponge, so we picked a short hike that we could fit in before the next storm and leave us time to continue south to California’s Napa Valley in the afternoon.  We picked the Mount Shasta Mine Loop Trail in the southwest part of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (just to the west of Redding) because it was short but promised wildflowers, historic gold mines, and a nice creek. The trailhead is easily accessible on paved roads, has plenty of parking (it’s designed for equestrian use), and features amenities.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

The “brave hiker” smile comes more easily when there are amenities at the trailhead

Unfortunately, the promised good California weather looked to be at least a day away, so, as the clouds piled over Shasta Bally to the west, we figured we had about 3 hours to enjoy this hike in dryness, if not sunshine.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Clouds and storm incoming over snowy 6,132 foot Shasta Bally to the west

The trail itself is easy to follow, with decent signage at key turns. Between the trailhead and the old mine site, the trail goes mostly level through groves of canyon live oaks and knobcone pines.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Along the trail

Wildflowers were coming out all over, but we confined ourselves to appreciating those right along the trail, thanks to the copious amounts of poison oak elsewhere in the forest.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

A pink pussy ear (Calochortus tolmiei)

About 1.5 miles in, we came to the large clearing which is the former site of the Mount Shasta Mine, which operated here between 1897 and 1915.  Unlike a lot of gold mines in the State of Jefferson, this one actually returned a profit.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Site of the former Mount Shasta Mine

All that’s left now is a 463-foot deep, debris filled shaft, a flooded adit, a tailing dump, and some old foundations.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

A fenced-off 463-foot deep shaft of debris

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

The old foundation for the shaft’s headworks

We then continued on the loop, past some more wildflowers,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Blue dick (Dichelostemma capitatum)

through oaks and madrones,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Along the trail

and past the opening of the Monitor Mine, now closed with a bat gate.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Monitor Mine (with bat gate)

Beyond the mine, we came to a fork in the trail – the use trail up the right fork ends 100 feet along at a small waterfall and clear pool. The upside of a wet year like this one is that these little seasonal features are available to be enjoyed.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

The small waterfall and pool in the right fork of the Orofino Creek drainage

The main trail goes up the left fork of the creek,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Along the left fork of Orofino Creek

past another small waterfall,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

A small waterfall in the left fork of Orofino Creek

and then passes the small adit of the Ono Mine.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

The Ono Mine with bat gate

After the Ono Mine, we started a steady uphill climb to the top of the ridge coming up from the trailhead,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Climbing out of the Orofino Creek drainage

past yet more wildflowers,

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Wildflowers

and then down the other side on an old road that runs directly back to the trailhead.

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Down to the trailhead

Just before reaching the parking lot, we took the opportunity to demonstrate the awesome power of a carbon fiber hiking pole (preceeded, of course, by a steel drill rod).

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Shazam!

This short (3.5 mile loop; 540 feet of elevation gain) hike provided the wildflowers, water features, and history as promised and would be a good one to keep in mind for a sunny Spring day in a wet year!  It was just the right length to fit into our weather window – we had just reached the car when the skys opened and the next deluge was upon us.  Such timing.  This deluge continued – fiercely at times – for our entire 3 hour drive down to the Napa Valley.  But the forecast was looking better and better for our next hikes, so we called it a day while holding positive thoughts about dryness.  As LovedOne always says: “glass half full” (but not overflowing)!

Mount Shasta Mine Trail Northern California

Our track around the Mount Shasta Mine Loop

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