Castle Crags

Castle Crags SP11-81

When people think of scenic places in California, worthy of pixelation via a DSLR, perhaps Yosemite, Big Sur, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe will come to mind — all places toward the center of the state. But how many people think of Mount Shasta, Lassen, or the Klamath Mountain Range? Yet the area in the far northern section of the state — encompassing Lassen Volcanic National Park in the east and the Klamath Mountain Range in the west, with Mount Shasta standing proudly in the center — can more than hold it’s own against other mountainous areas in the state. There’s more variety here, for example, then one will find in the Sierras, which have a fairly uniform look throughout, with its steady diet of granite and forested slopes. In the Shasta area, you have the melding of two mountain ranges, the Cascades and Klamath. The Cascades range is an expansive plateau dotted with various volcanic mounds, some of them, like Mount Shasta, of massive dimensions. The Klamath is more similar to the Sierra, except without the lofty elevation (highest mountain, Thompson Peak, at 9,000’) but with more variety. Toward the eastern edge of the Klamath Mountains, almost under the shadow of Mount Shasta, rises a series of granite crags, domes, and spires: this is Castle Crags, part of both Castle Crags State Park and Castle Crags wilderness. The Klamath Mountains is rife with these pockets of granite wonder. The advantage of the Castle Crags Wilderness and vicinity is the easy access. Castle Crags State Park is right next to Interstate 5 north of Lake Shasta and south of the town of Mount Shasta, off the Castella exit. The park has a decent size campground and a one-way paved road leading to a vista and the trail to the peak. At 2.7 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation, it’s a short, steep trek to the crags, but well worth it for the photographer. The trail starts at under 3,000 feet in elevation and winds it’s way to near 5,000 feet:

The first half of the trail is fairly dreary and steep, traveling through thick forest. About half way to the top the crags can be seen through the trees. And as the trail rises against the side of the granite mountain, Castle Dome veers into view, as follows:

Once in the midst of the crags, there is a splendid variety of scenes to behold, including a massive granite wall, peppered with spires and domes, rising toward the heavens:

And a series of more conventional crags, rising from vegetation choked hillside:

For the previous travelogue series post, go here.