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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All that’s left now is a 463-foot deep, debris filled shaft, a flooded adit, a tailing dump, and some old foundations.
We then continued on the loop, past some more wildflowers,
through oaks and madrones,
and past the opening of the Monitor Mine, now closed with a 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.
The main trail goes up the left fork of the creek,
past another small waterfall,
and then passes the small adit of the Ono Mine.
After the Ono Mine, we started a steady uphill climb to the top of the ridge coming up from the trailhead,
past yet more wildflowers,
and then down the other side on an old road that runs directly back 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).
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)!