The stars of this glorious state park alongside Castle Crags Wilderness Area are its soaring spires of ancient granite formed some 225 million years ago, with elevations ranging from 2000ft along the Sacramento River to more than 6500ft at the peaks. The crags are similar to the granite formations of the eastern Sierra. Castle Dome resembles Yosemite’s famous Half Dome.
Rangers at the park entrance station have information and maps covering 28 miles of hiking trails. There’s also fishing in the Sacramento River at the picnic area on the opposite side of I-5, and the park offers 76 campsites that can be reserved up to six months in advance at www.reservecalifornia.com.
If you drive past the campground, you’ll reach Vista Point, near the start of the strenuous 2.7-mile Crags Trail, which rises through the forest past the Indian Springs spur trail, then clambers up to the base of Castle Dome. You’re rewarded with unsurpassed views of Mt Shasta, especially if you scramble the last 100yd or so up into the rocky saddle gap. The park also has gentle nature trails and 8 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which passes through the park at the base of the crags.