Our very first adventure in the McCloud area was at Castle Crags State Park where we completed the hike to Castle Dome and back. Located 6 miles south of Dunsmuir on Interstate 5, about 30 minutes from McCloud, Castle Crags offers hiking and climbing enthusiasts a one-of-a-kind experience among soaring granite spires, lush pine forests, and ethereal clouds as you make your way up into the Crags.
The hike to Castle Dome is moderate and not for small children and it took us all of a half-day to complete the roundtrip. The initial portion of the hike is a steady climb through the forest along a small portion of the Pacific Crest trail. Eventually, the trees start to thin and you begin to catch brief previews of the view that is to come. We elected to take a short trail spur to Indian Springs, a small waterfall about half-way to the Dome, and the added distance was well worth the resulting refreshment.
The upper portion of the hike has some moderate scrambling on the route but nothing that can be carefully navigated. A pause for a snack on a huge outcropping of rock allowed us to catch our breath and regain some energy for the final push up to the Dome. In hindsight, extra water would have been worth the extra weight as July can be HOT in Northern California – even up in the Crags. Once we reached Castle Dome we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Mt. Shasta and the Shasta National Forest. The view back to I-5 was also amazing as you realize just how far you have come when theInterstate looks like a strand of yarn bisecting the forest below.
After exploring the small Crags at the foot of Castle Dome (and snapping some “brag” pictures) we set out on the return journey. On our next trip, we’re planning to make a full day of it and explore past Castle Dome into the Crags proper. This promises to be an even greater adventure and we’re eagerly awaiting the trip!
The Castle Crags State Park is open year round for camping and day use – weather permitting.