Hanging By Red Shores & Mountains – Shasta Lake, CA
I have to admit our new back-yard is pretty sweet. Not only are we surrounded by a great lake, pretty trees and lush green mountains, but we are (yet again) the largest rig in the campground. Don’t know why that last bit always gets me excited, but I love getting out where other Class A’s have not yet dared to venture. Exploring new horizons “beastly” style, if you will, or modern-day Christopher Columbus’s a-la-RV, or nouveau big-rig road-crusaders…
Ahh, but I digress…
We have landed in Shasta, land of lake, mountain & those who seek the other side. One of the first things you notice when you get up here is that Shasta means a whole lotta different places. Mt. Shasta is the large, pointy (and usually snowed-in) mountany thing in the north, which should not be confused with Shasta Lake (the rather enormous wet lakey thing ~40 miles south), and should most definitely not be mistaken for Shasta (the city ~50 miles to the East). Thankfully Mt Shasta (the city) is actually next to the mountain, and Shasta Lake (the city) is next to the lake, leaving only Shasta as the odd one out. Got it?
But to keep things simple I’ll start with Shasta Lake (the actual lake, not the city), which is where we’re currently parked and which is indeed a very large lake. Visually it’s a stunning picture -> rugged iron-rich red earth shoreline set off by mountainside, conifer trees and aqua-blue waters. In fact it’s a man-made lake that came into being in 1948 after building the Shasta Dam, the second largest and (still) the tallest concrete dam in the United States. Standing proud at a surface area of 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) and boasting 365 miles of shoreline when full the 5 “arms” of the lake spread into long fingers that make it look on a map like a massive creepy monster-hand. It also means there are a whole lotta hidden nooks and crannies to explore, many of which can only be reached by boat.
We got here on the camping madness that is Memorial Day week-end and boating is definitely the big deal. Almost everyone comes here with a boat in haul (even the RVs!), and house-boats are a popular way to spend the week-end on the lake. Considering it’s size there is actually not that much development outside of boating. There are a few 2-lane roads that snake some of the boundaries of the lake (but not all), a selection of forest service campgrounds, a handful of RV parks (most too tight for our liking) and only a very few hiking trails.
But despite the holiday week-end madness and minimal development (and in our case no boat) you can still find plenty of stuff to do.
Visiting the Dam is an excellent outing, as well as a trip to the Shasta Caverns, and for roadie-lovers there’s the massive Chappie-Shasta OHV area in the south. But for the less touristy folks (like ourselves) you can take a trip to the more remote Samwell Cave, or do a bit of hiking on the trails, all of which are lightly used and pooch-friendly (our fav hike is Waters Gulch Trail down by Packers Bay). And if you really want to get out there and into the wild, try and seek out the rare Shasta Salamander…no, I kid you not.
But the most fun is simply exploring the coast which is an excellent choice for water-loving pooch-owners like ourselves. Lake Shasta is one of the few lakes in CA that allows camping & recreation anywhere on the shore, so if you can get your gear there, you can set-up shop and spend the week. Most of the spots are for tenters, but there are a few dedicated, larger dispersed camping areas and Gregory Beach (as we’ve discovered) is one spot you could actually bring “the beast”. The rest of the shore is open for hanging out, pooch swimming and fishing.
We’ve had a coupla great days exploring the shoreline in near-perfect temps and hanging at our rather sweet forest site. Oh and in case you noticed the hint in the second paragraph, we DID foray to the other side. But that, my dears, is a story for another day…..