Destination Showcase: Siskiyou, California

Mar 19, 2019
by Trevor Lyden  

In the Shadow of Mt. Shasta
Photography & Words: Trevor Lyden / Riders: Austin Hemperley, Clairen Stone & Drew Barber
Presented by Discover Siskiyou

If you’ve ever driven through Northern California, then there’s a good chance you’ve noticed Mt. Shasta towering over the landscape. The 14,180-foot peak can be seen from miles away and is a stunning sight compared to the area’s relatively flat surroundings. Sitting at the base of the mountain is a small town bearing the same name, with a population of just over 3,300. The town of Mount Shasta is in the southern section of Siskiyou - a county with 44,000 residents spread across 4 million acres. It's one of the most diverse and wild in the state of California, with 2.5 million explorable acres of rangeland and woodland. Siskiyou is known for its wild rivers, lush green forests, and the ease of access to the outdoors. Many people consider the recreation highlight of the area to be Mt. Shasta Ski Park, which has been operating since 1985 and provides skiers and boarders 425 acres of ridable terrain.

While Siskiyou has successfully solidified itself as a winter sports destination, it’s also a fantastic four-season area with plenty to do when there isn't snow on the ski runs. Recently, mountain biking in Siskiyou has been a growing attraction. While riding the Mount Shasta area has been popular amongst the locals for a number of years, it has flown relatively under the radar. Within the last few years, there has been a significant improvement to local trails around Mount Shasta, Yreka, Happy Camp, McCloud, Dunsmuir, Scott Valley, and all four corners of Siskiyou County. In addition to a human-powered trail system, Mt. Shasta Ski Park has recently opened their doors for lift-accessed mountain biking. The ski park has two lifts running with access to almost a dozen mountain bike trails of various difficulties. The park truly offers something for every rider, and has long XC loops, an irrigated flow/jump trail, and a rough and rowdy downhill course. Every season riders gather at the park to participate in the various events and races that are locally hosted.

Not a bad way to start your day. Mt. Shasta Ski Park

The irrigated flow trail at the bike park is riddled with high-quality berms
A small entrance drop on the downhill trail which leads into the next big hit...

The road gap! It's pretty cool to have a feature like this available at a public park

This 5-foot tall wallride was a big hit among the test riders
One of the many wood features on the downhill course

It's hard to beat the views

We were fortunate enough to have Mt. Shasta Ski Park marketing guru Taylor Russell show us the lines

A tight and technical rock section
Enjoying a cold one after a great day at the bike park

While not technically allowed, we were able to finagle special privilege to manual the magic carpet

If lift access trails aren’t your thing, MSMBA (Mount Shasta Mountain Bike Association) has been putting countless hours into the trail system down in town. The trails range from smooth beginner friendly singletrack to technical aggressive all-mountain. The Gateway Trail, which MSMBA describes as “a 10-mile multi-use cross country trail network with constant elevation changes, flowing turns, and short sections of steep descents or climbs” is one of the most popular in the area and is only a stone’s throw from downtown Mount Shasta. While on your way back to town, you can stop off at the Shastice Bike Park, which features dirt jump lines, wooden features, and a concrete skatepark. Other trails in the immediate area include the Sisson-Callahan, which follows the North Fork of the Sacramento River, and the Lake Siskiyou Loop, which takes riders on a circumnavigation of the deep blue lake.

Trailhead access doesn't get much easier than at the Gateway Trails
The Gateway Trail system allows you to pick and choose your own adventure, with everything from machine build flow trails, to loose drift tracks

Riding through the dark green forest is a nice contrast to the higher elevation terrain at the bike park

A log feature
A short technical rock section

Pig Farm is filled with high speed, well-built berms

Rock drop somewhere in the Gateway system
Stopping by the Shastice Bike Park is a great way to end your trail ride

Just one of many dirt jumps at the park

A mere 40 minutes north on 1-5 takes you to the small town of Yreka. This picturesque location is home to Greenhorn Park, a sizeable multi-use area which offers hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Each year the Jefferson Mountain Bike Association hosts the Humbug Hurry Up, an annual bike race which brings riders from all over the United States.

Greenhorn Park sits directly next to Greenhorn Reservoir, a scenic man-made lake with cool covered bridge
Local wildlife

The Upper Ditch Trail is 2 miles of hard packed and fast singletrack

If you're lucky enough to make it here in the fall, you'll be treated to a vibrant display of colors
The relatively mellow nature of the trails means you can go as slow, or fast, as you want

There are also plenty of creative lines if you look hard enough

The riders checking out one of the historic buildings that are at the base of the Greenhorn trails
Riders delight

Mt. Shasta

Another riding area which is located approximately 30 minutes from Mt. Shasta are the trails of Kidder Creek, a youth summer camp nestled in the mountains of Northern California. The camp staff have been constantly improving their local trails over the past few summers and have created an impressive riding area. In addition to mountain bike camps, Kidder Creek also offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation and equestrian adventures. Branching out from central Siskiyou County takes you to other trail systems like Happy Camp in the west and the Goosenest Trails near extinct volcanoes in the east.

An impressive view on top of a mountain pass

Lots of fun side hits are possible in this area
And there are even a few man-made jumps

Sunny singletrack through the forest

Camp counselor and lady shredder Georgie Bass showing us the ropes
The other half of the Bass', and also a camp counselor/riding instructor Jacob Bass

Log hops galore

From the yellow aspens above to the green moss below, Siskiyou is a colorful place

Earning the last few turns of the day
Sunset Siskiyou style

In addition to mountain biking, Siskiyou offers a wide array of outdoor activities. There are many spectacular road and gravel rides, and they even have a few century rides for those of you looking to feel that road cycling burn. If you're looking to spend some time out of the saddle, you can visit the many lakes, waterfalls or caves in the area. When it’s finally time to dry out your helmets and refill your tanks, Siskiyou County has no shortage of delicious eateries, take-out stands, a number of local breweries, a distillery and is even home to the best bottled water on earth, Castle Rock that’s bottled right at the source.

Hedge Creek Falls is a quick 10 minute walk and the source for Castle Rock Water. I highly recommend picking some up while you're in the area
It's not often you get to see where the water you're drinking actually comes from, which is what makes this place so special

Pluto's Cave has an impressive skylight and is a great way to spend an afternoon.

While there are many great breweries in the area, we found Etna Brewing Co. to be one of the best and most thirst quenching.
The view you're treated with while visiting the area

Mt. Shasta Mountain Biking Trails

Pinkbike would like to thank:
Discover Siskiyou
Mt. Shasta Ski Park
Mt. Shasta Bike Association
Jefferson Mountain Bike Association
Kidder Creek Camp
Castle Rock Water
Etna Brewing

Presented by Discover Siskiyou.
To learn more about biking in Siskiyou or to book a trip visit, Discover Siskiyou.

MENTIONS: @pinkbikeoriginals

Regions in Article
Siskiyou County


  • 25 0
 An hour north you've got awesome gravity riding in Ashland. An hour south 150+ miles of year-round singletrack in Redding (home of the world's first organized mtb race). An hour west of Redding more awesome singletrack in Weaverville. And a couple hours east an awesome trail system in Susanville. Not to mention Downieville, Mt. Hough, Mills Peak, and Tahoe less than a few hours' drive. Highly underrated mountain biking region up here!
  • 13 1

I’m kind of glad there is more interest in spy shots of a dh helmet than this article.
  • 2 0
 @generationfourth: Ha! Excellent.
  • 3 0
 Some of the best riding around. A lot of it is under the radar. Hoping to get on some of that dirt when I am home for the summer.
  • 2 0
 I'm stopping on my way back from Sea Otter!
  • 1 0
 @ollielammas: DM me if you want some recommendations on where to ride in Redding! Might even show you around myself if my knee isn't still jacked up.
  • 17 1
 You know what Siski mean in Russian? Boobs! Nice location though...Boobsyou!
  • 2 0
 What's really funny is that much of northern California was a Russian colony! Ooops!
  • 1 0
 Yes it is!
  • 5 0
 In Russia you dont play with boob, the boob Boobsyou.
  • 7 0
 nice to see this region getting a shout...super destination
  • 1 0
 Agree! Used to live there, some super good shuttle trails. Fun stuff all around too.
  • 1 0
 @mtbmaniatv: shhhhhhh
  • 1 0
 @nubbs: you right. nothing to see here folks, move along
  • 5 2
 Although they technically aren't official trails, the article should have mentioned the Entertainer Trail System, Steam Donkey + Old McCloud DH + Azalea, and the Sisson Callahan. The entertainer is about 3300' shuttle-able gnarly DH/enduro located above the Gateway on Mt. Shasta, Steam Donkey + Old McCloud DH + Azalea are three trails in Mt. Shasta that are flowy singletrack with jumps, and the Sisson Callahan is a basically a four mile rock garden along a river that can be started up on Mt Eddie for a total of about eight miles of alpine descent (4476') near Lake Siskyou in Mt. Shasta.
  • 6 0
 I hear you can get Shasta Cola fresh on tap there.
  • 4 0
 You just dip your canteen into any stream.
  • 2 0
 It's nice to see these trails getting noticed as many are very nice but relatively obscure. Kidder Creek especially was unnoticed while only the locals knew where the good trails where. Thank You very much for doing a photo shoot on these great trails. M
  • 2 0
 I attended Kidder Creek MTB Camp last summer and had a blast. My leaders were Georgie and Jacob Bass. The whole experience was super awesome and trails like Pig Farm really seal the deal.
  • 1 0
 Kidder Creek actually didn't make that trail a small group of locals including myself did and we told the head of the kidder creek bike camp that if he wanted he personally could ride it but not bring his hole camp up he went against his word and has continued to bring more and more people and now pinkbike?!! it was a perfectly isolated secret spot look what happened
  • 1 0
 The Mt Shasta Ski Park is really stepping up their mt biking game this season. They are hosting plenty of new events this year and if the past is any indicator, they should all be a blast. First up on April 6th, 2019 is the inaugural Corduroy Crusher Snow Bike Race on a GS style race course. Then round one of the Full Tilt Enduro Series on June 29th, 2019. Followed up by the third stop in the California Enduro Series on July 13-14th, 2019. Additional events are sure to be added as the season spins into action. If your in the area any of those dates, be sure to find some time to visit the Ski Park and enjoy the great riding! Cheers, -mike at the bike store
  • 3 1
 FYI: The Kidder Creek Camp (run by Mount Hermon) is a Jebus indoctrination camp- not a criticism, but thought that should have been noted.
  • 1 1
 I chuckled at “Jefferson Mountain Bike Association”
  • 4 1
 Kidder Creek Camps is an awesome outdoor camp with a deep love and focus Jesus. Thought the summer and fall many come to Kidder not only to connect with creation, but the Creator.
Thank you for pointing that out @bvb453.
  • 1 0
 I have spent a lot of time in Shasta county area snowboarding, fishing, and camping before. Haven't mtb there but I could see how the terrain could be good and be a destination. It is just a trek to get there.
  • 1 0
 The majority of potential visitors would have to drive up passing Tahoe, d-ville, all of the Sierra to get up there.
  • 3 0
 I thought it was about Polygon Siski-U
  • 3 0
 Mount Ashland is another great spot just up the road from Yreka.
  • 1 0
 I spent months living in a tent outside Callahan in the late 90s. There wasn't much going on at the time. It's nice to see the development.
  • 4 5
 This is a beautiful area but sadly there is a lot of crime that works its way up from Redding. The people in the town of Shasta are very nice but I think they've built up a bias (sadly well earned from some of the BS that comes through) towards out of towners. Outside of a bike park or ski area I'd be a little leery about hiking/biking around this part of CA. It's a shame though because Trinity and Siskiyou national forests are gorgeous.
  • 7 0
 Hey - sorry to hear you've had that experience here! We've never felt unsafe out on our trails. Mt. Shasta actually became the first official Pacific Crest Trail Town in 2018 and is super hiker-friendly, with lots of "trail angels" and through-hiker friendly lodging available. Hope you'll give us another try!
  • 5 0
 I lived here for 25years. Sure there are the occasional dirt bags hanging around the more populated areas. But step into the woods and its easily one of the safest places to explore. Aside from the occasional long term camper posted up in the woods(who want no trouble), or the hippie busses at the river spots. You are likely to only see other riders or days hikers of good nature.
  • 5 1
 I've lived in Redding for three years and have been vacationing in this area my whole life and have never experienced what you're describing at all. There are a lot of dirtbags in the city of Redding, no doubt, but I've never seen any out on the trails and I've definitely never experienced the kind of hostility to out-of-towners you're describing. Maybe if come up there looking like a dirtbag you might get some of that, but in general the people in this area are very welcoming to out-of-towners, especially adventurers who might contribute to their economy.
  • 2 0
 @cthorpe: I’ll echo this sentiment. In a bar I’d definitely not talk politics, but once out in the mountains I’ve had nothing but positive interactions- if I even see another person at all.
  • 3 1
 Just spent two weeks exploring the area and hanging out with locals, and what you've posited is precisely the opposite of what I experienced. Didn't see or hear of a single criminal incident the whole time, nor did I feel unsafe. My girlfriend was here on her own for a month last year and had the same experience, and explored on her own the entire time. Weird post to make.
  • 1 0
 @myfriendgoose: Good glad it was a good experience for you. Truth is you wouldn't hear about most police reports in your own town unless it was on the news. Please don't discredit my post as a weird comment to make, it happened and I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else simple as that.
  • 1 0
 @mpcremata: To each their own, but what you've just said is the perfect example. The whole making assumptions based on the way someone looks will attract hostility from locals is judging someone based on appearance alone. Not a place I want to be.
  • 2 0
 It isn't like getting lost in the inner city at night but there are definite issues that you don't see in most of the other bigger destinations. I have definitely run into a few shady characters. Some are clearly pretty drugged out, the others are looking for easy things to steal. Keep your stuff locked up at the trail heads and don't show too much in your vehicle. Then you can go ride and rip some really well built trails. Early spring or after the first rains in the fall are the best times otherwise the trails can get pretty dusty unless you are at the park.
  • 2 0
 @Iberian: Thank you and I knew I wasn't the only one! Again it's a beautiful area with some great trail networks but it's got some problems. Wouldn't let my bike out of my sight, even locked on a rack.
  • 1 0
 @coyotecycleworks: I've never experienced that. My point was just that if you look like a drugged-out dirtbag, you're likely to get some dirty looks from the locals anywhere you go. But this is a very blue collar/hippie area. You'd have to be pretty grimy to stand out from the locals themselves.
  • 2 0
 Having driven through this area on the way down to Sea Otter it's very much now on my 'must visit' list. Great shots Trevor.
  • 2 0
 Redding has the new flow trail "Enticer". Really is a fun trail to ride. Plenty of other trails to ride also.
  • 3 0
 Looks like another mtb trip to add to my list.
  • 1 0
 Drove through that area once and spent the night in Mt. Shasta. Beautiful area! Would love to spent some more time there.
  • 2 0
 awesome work Trevor & the Sagebrush crew \m/
  • 2 0
 Yooooooooooooo! The Hempdogg and Brewster ripping in this article!
  • 2 0
 about 20 km northwest is "Weed"
  • 1 0
 Were all these photos from last fall?
  • 1 0
 Yes - they were taken in October
  • 1 0
 @DiscoverSiskiyou: What would you say the ideal season is weather-wise? I drove through the are a few years ago in August and I wouldn't have wanted to be on the bike! Was like 102 in the afternoon. Was that just a fluke or average summer?
  • 2 0
 @drunknride: Summers can get pretty hot (90-100+), but spring and fall are super awesome! The months of May-June and Sept-November are beautiful.
  • 2 0
 @drunknride: for riding, ideal time is mid but varies a bit depending on snow pack(May-June). Or fall when rains start returning(sept-nov). When the dirt is wet, its all time.
  • 2 0
 *mid spring
  • 5 0
 @drunknride: Even on the hottest days it's usually not too bad up in Mt. Shasta. And if you ride in the mornings it's fine even dead of summer. On days when it might hit 115 in Redding, where I live, it will still be in the 80s until 10-11 a.m. Shit, I'll ride in the evenings when it's still 104. Dump a bottle over your head at the beginning of the ride, bring an ice-cold "shower bottle" for cooling down mid-ride, plenty of electrolye water in your camelbak, try to stick to shady trails, and don't go for any PRs--it's really not bad. Beats the hell out of NOT riding!
  • 1 0
 Thanks for all the responses
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 Nice views. Looks good guys!
  • 1 0
 Siski county, it's better without you
  • 1 1
 Does Georgie Bass offer private lessons? Asking for a friend...
  • 1 0
 @DirtbagMatt, she does not. However you could try Shasta Gravity Adventures. They do guided rides in the same area if you are interested.
  • 1 1
 @jacobbass8: LOL, no bro, I want to ride with her and only her! ;-)
  • 1 0
 @DirtbagMatt: username checks out
  • 1 3
 Cough cough...Sisson Callahan trail is boring and not worth it, dont bother... cough cough

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