Having grown up and subsequently lived in California almost all my life, it's astonishing to me how much of the Golden State I'm still uncovering. California is just SO diverse: mountains, deserts, gorgeous coastline, more National Parks than any other state in the nation (9), Hollywood, Silicon Valley... not to mention Lake Tahoe, Disneyland and In N Out! Needless to say, I love this place.
One must, simply put, see California's sprawling abundance for themselves.
One of the places in Cali I hadn't spent much time before was Mt Shasta. A road trip pinnacle along I-5, Shasta has been calling to me as of late, so I recently wrangled my friend Megan to join me on a girls trip up to Siskiyou County. We brought our kayaks, Roxy and Shasta, and paddled our way through the weekend in late April: the precise moment it seemed winter melted into spring.
In between repeatedly learning how to tie and untie our 'yaks on Megan's Subaru, the 4 hour roadtrip up to Siskiyou passed by in a flash. If you're planning a trip up to the region, here are some tips on how to make the most of your getaway to Northern California:
Drive Through Lassen Volcanic National Park
Unfortunately as it was technically still late in the winter season when we went, the pass through Lassen was closed and we weren't able to go this route. But I hear it's stunning, so if you're coming from the south, I highly recommend making your way along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway!
Where To Stay: Hi-Low Motel
No, not a suggestive nod to the town it occupies; Hi-Low Motel is a quaint little nook located conveniently close to the highway in the town of Weed. Megan and I stayed in the Shasta Suite which was cozy and clean with a partial view of the mountain. This historic family-owned motel is a comfortable place to lay your head after a day spent in the mountains. Even better: the adjoining Hi-Low Cafe is a darling old school diner with friendly staff, delicious food and hot coffee. Not to be missed!
Kayak Lake Siskiyou
While there are innumerable watering holes scattered all over Siskiyou, we enjoyed kayaking at Lake Siskiyou as dusk approached upon our arrival. About a ten minute drive from Hi-Lo Motel, this was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The lake offered a stunning view of Shasta's alpenglow as the sun went down, and the water couldn't have been more still! Pack bug spray as mosquitos are prevalent, but don't worry — trout will literally jump out of the lake to eat the bugs for you! The leaping fish made for a hilarious escapade as we tried (unsuccessfully) to catch one on camera.
Where To Get A Refreshing Cold One
After a long day of outdoor adventure, there's nothing quite as refreshing than sitting at a brewery with a local brew, am I right?! Megan and I loved Mt Shasta Brewing Company so much on our first visit we went back the very next day! If you're hungry, make sure to arrive early enough to catch the kitchen before it closes — which can be as early as 7 PM on a slower night. Exploring Dunsmuir? Don't miss Dunsmuir Brewery Works. Sit outside and soak up the sunshine as you get to know the locals!
Hike + Kayak Castle Lake
By far the most memorable part of our trip, Castle Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake not far from Lake Siskiyou. Megan and I decided to climb the trail up to Heart Lake which was still frozen over when we went, but afforded stunning views of Castle Lake below. We found ourselves hiking/running through the snow at many points which, on a warm 75 degree day with clear blue skies, is just about the best thing ever. Following the hike, we fueled up on some protein bars and then unsaddled the kayaks and launched them into the lake. We were the only people enjoying the water that day — it was heavenly. We even kayaked under a snowmelt waterfall! Highly recommend adding this to your list if you're headed to Siskiyou. Allow for a solid chunk of your day: the out-and-back hike took us two hours (we were slowed down by the snow) but the lake is small — we kayaked around the whole perimeter in 20 minutes.
Stretch It Out At Shasta Yoga Institute
Yoga is a wonderful complement to an active lifestyle, and when I can, I like squeezing in a class while traveling. Megan and I took a Sunday morning class at Shasta Yoga Institute, appropriately named as it directly faced Mt Shasta. What a knowledgeable instructor! I don't think I've ever learned more in a single class than at Liv's Alignment 1,2,3 session! Find the full class schedule online here.
We quickly discovered there are innumerable hidden shopping gems dotted around Siskiyou — an antique lover's paradise. Make sure to scour Weed, McCloud, Dunsmuir and the town of Mt Shasta to properly get a glimpse of the region. Each of these towns boast darling downtown areas with plenty of shopping options, so bring your credit card and enjoy! On your drive back home, you'll see a handful of antique shops dotting the side of the highway, which are excellent and worth stopping for.
Bring A Water Bottle
Siskiyou boasts the purest water you can find just about anywhere. With clear mountain runoff, I found that the water straight from the tap was more refreshing than purchasing bottled water! Make the eco-conscious decision and just bring a water bottle to fill up instead of buying water.
Megan and I had a wonderful weekend in Siskiyou, rich with belly laughs, delicious local beer, and plenty of paddling. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Can't wait to go back and summit Mt Shasta at some point! What would you add to this list?
This post is in partnership with Discover Siskiyou. All opinions expressed are my own.