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Castle Crags Wilderness

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General Information

Description - The Castle Crags Wilderness was established in 1984 with the passage of the California Wilderness Act. This 10,500 acre addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System contains towering spires, steep-sided canyons and a few alpine lakes. Most of the area is covered by high brush fields and rocky outcrops with a few wet meadows in the creek headwaters. Mixed conifer forests can be found on the north, east and west facing slopes.

Castle Crags forms a small portion of the Klamath Mountains geological province. The towering crags and spires from which the Castle Crags platoon derives its name are especially prominent to the west of interstate 5 between the towns of Castella and Dunsmuir. Elevations range from 2,000 feet along the Sacramento River to over 6,500 feet at the summit of the highest crags.

Attractions - Recreations on the Mount Shasta Ranger District center on the two designated wilderness areas of Mount Shasta and Castle Crags. Dominating the landscape for several hundred miles in all directions, Mount Shasta looms 14,162 feet, a beautiful snow-cloaked massif, second only to Mount Rainier in height among the famous Cascade Range volcanoes. No trails lead up Mount Shasta, but trails provide access to the Wilderness and the foot of the mountain.

Sheer granite cliffs, towering spires reaching up to 7,200 feet, and steep canyons hide five small alpine lakes in Castle Crags Wilderness. Covered with fields of brush and a few wet meadows in the heads of several creeks, the vegetation on the east, west and north slopes consist of pine, Douglas fir, spruce and cedar. More than 300 species of wildflowers have been identified in the Wilderness, including the Castle Crags harebell, which blooms nowhere else on Earth. Rattlesnakes, black bears, deer, and squirrels abound, as do ticks. The Wilderness shares its southern border with Castle Crags State Park. You'll find 27.8 miles of maintained trails starting from nine trailheads. The Pacific Crest Trail rambles for 19 miles through the area.

Recreation - Horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking are enjoyed on this wilderness area.

Climate - Climate on the Shasta-Trinity varies greatly with elevation. Higher elevations tend to have much cooler temperatures and higher precipitation. Summer weather is usually hot and dry with lower elevation temperatures ranging from 85° - 100°+F and lows from 60° - 70°. Fall days are usually mild and warm, with cool nights. Winter is when most of the precipitation falls, averaging over 55 inches per year, much of it in the form of snow in the high elevations. Highs range from 40° - 60° and lows from 30° - 40° in the lower elevations. Spring weather is variable with many pleasant days.

Location - Shasta-McCloud Management Unit is based in McCloud, California.

Directions from Castle Crags State Park: The wilderness can be accessed via several trailheads including: The Castle Dome Trail, Indian Springs Trail, Root Creek Trail and Bob's Hat Trail.

Directions from Castle Lake: The wilderness area can be accessed via the Little Castle Lake/Mt. Bradley Trails.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Year-round.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking There are 27.8 miles of developed and maintained trails within the Castle Crags Wildreness, accessed by 9 designated trailheads.

More Information

Additional Information:
Mount Shasta Ranger District - Shasta-McCloud Management Unit contains the ranger districts of McCloud and Mt. Shasta. Anglers and other water-oriented sport enthusiasts find a palette of choices.


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