Amazing nature feeds my soul, keeps the smile on my face, and helps me stay grounded. In the weekends, either Saturday, or Sunday, we usually make a day trip to a beautiful location in northern California. When we get there we hike for at least a couple hours, often 4-5 hours. We have some places we come back to time after time, that we know we like a lot. Some weekends we try new spots. This routine gives us something to look forward to, and the exercise encourage us to be active the rest of the week as well.
Last Sunday we went to Shasta Dam. We’ve been there many times, and it is a favorite. First we walk out on the dam. Just strolling around, enjoying the scenery. It’s a concrete arch-gravity dam, across the Sacramento River.
The first photo in this post is of the reservoir. Standing on the bridge looking to the right. It’s actually California’s largest reservoir. Shasta Dam played an important role in World War II, providing massive amounts of electricity. It is still an important provider of hydro electric power. The second, and third photo, is looking down on the spillway, on left side.
When we get our fill of scenery from the dam, we get our backpacks from the car, and head out on the Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail. Along the trail you can view the dam, and Mt.Shasta, from a distance.
I love this trail. We had our picnic lunch next to where my daughter stands, in the photo above. The trail has several creeks along the sides, and you cross a few bridges. The forest is dense on both sides. Lots of manzanitas, pine trees, scotch broom, and various other brush (including poison oak. I actually made up a little game, to encourage my daughter to avoid poison oak. Every time she saw poison oak, she pointed it out, and got a point. Ten points gave her a small price.) This time of the year there’s lots of color, yellow, purple, blue, and green. The air is so fresh, scented by pine and flowers.
My faithful hiking buddy loves this trail as well. We usually stop at every creek we pass to play. Both my daughter, and my dog loves water. I kind of have to stop..at least for a few minutes. The thing with this trail is that you can hike as long as you want, and then turn back to the parking lot, the same way you came. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience no matter the distance you hike. If you want to hike the whole thing, it’s 16.8 miles. I haven’t done that yet, since my daughter have been with me every time I hiked this trail. Originally this ditch brought water to the gold miners in the area.
The difficulty of the trail is moderate. Some hills, but not steep ones. It’s a very well maintained trail, with great footing. You will probably see some mountain bikers on the trail (they like to ride the whole trail,) and maybe even some equestrians (usually on the southern parts.)
View of Shasta Dam, and Mt.Shasta from the north section of the trail.
I very much enjoy seeing the dam from this point of view. I used a telephoto zoom lens to take this photo, and the next.
The dam itself is extremely popular for boating in the summer. I haven’t tried that yet. When I drive by during summer it always looks so crowded, and that’s not really my thing. (I’m sure you can find less crowded times, and that it is wonderful to go boating at those times. It just looks crowded every time I pass by.) The trail however is wonderful to do all year round. Be sure to bring plenty of water, every season, but especially during the hot months (April-Oct.) I highly recommend hiking in the morning during those months.
Do you feel like visiting Shasta Dam yourself? Maybe give the ditch trail a shot? The trail head (well marked, just before the parking lot,) is right next to Shasta Dam’s visitor center, and there’s plenty of parking space. You can take a tour of the dam, and visit the inside of it. I haven’t done that yet, but I would really like to do it in a near future.
This is the address to the visitor center: 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd, Shasta Lake, CA 96019.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy Trails!