Showshoeing is a great way to get out during the winter and extend the hiking season. Plus, its a beginner-friendly activity that’s great for all ages. You’ll need boots and snowshoes, winter clothing, a pack with the 10 Essentials and snacks, and then you’re ready to romp through the snow. Mt. Shasta Nordic Center offers one groomed trail and you can take short backcountry hikes at Bunny Flat, Upper and Lower Sand Flat, Red Fir Flat and Castle Lake.
Things to know
- A lot of snowshoeing, especially the areas on the mountain, are in places where Nordic skiing is also popular. In those places, trail etiquette is important – Play In Your Lane simply means that if you’re hiking with snowshoes stay out of the ski track (and visa versa).
- Snowshoe rentals for adults and kids are available at The Fifth Season, with pick up offered the evening before you go at no charge if you come in after 4pm (we close at 6pm).
- The backcountry areas on Mount Shasta and Castle Lake do not require a permit.
- If it’s snowed recently, check road conditions for Ski Park Highway or the road to Castle Lake. Even if they aren’t plowed yet, you can hike up the road.
- The Siskiyous Wanderers hiking group often goes snowshoeing in the winter. Check in with them if you’d like to hike with a group.
- Mount Shasta Tour Guide offers guided snowshoe tours from gentle to aerobic.
If you need to learn
- While there are no official lessons, the Nordic Center staff can help you get comfortable before you head out on the marked trail there.
- The Fifth Season staff will walk you through how to secure your boot in your snowshoe before you leave the shop. You can rent or purchase snowshoes in the shop.
Things to consider
- The Nordic Center is off grid – you’ll find a warming hut and porta-potties, but no electricity.
- Dogs are not allowed on groomed ski trails, although you can take them on showshoe trails.
- Sand Flat off Everitt Memorial Highway –
Upper Sand Flat is the place to go if you’re new to ungroomed trails. The ski in from the trailhead is mostly flat and leads to the open flat where you’ll get terrific views of the mountain. Unless you come in right after a storm, you’re likely to find both ski and snowshoe tracks to follow. You can make a lap around the flat and back to the road to ski out to the parking area. It’s such a beautiful spot on a clear day that you may want to bring a picnic with you. From Sand Flat you may see other tracks branching off into the big trees, if you choose to follow those be sure to pay attention so you can find your way back.
- Lower Sand Flat –
The ski in from the lower trailhead is a steeper way to enter Sand Flat. If you choose this trail, you’ll need to be comfortable with some climbing and descending down the road. The parking area here has room for 3 or 4 cars.
- Bunny Flat at the top of Everitt Memorial Highway –
This is the end of the road in the winter, where you’ll find all kinds of folks enjoying the snow by sledding, cross country skiing, skinning up to ski or ride higher on the mountain and just plain enjoying the view. This is also an access point for snowmobiles, so while the parking lot is big, it can be full. Bunny Flat is the only trailhead on the mountain that has vault toilets. Read the Avalanche Center’s description here.
Download the Forest Service map of the Sand Flat and Bunny Flat area here.
Things to know:
- In the Sand Flat and Bunny Flat areas look for blue trail marker signs in the trees marking routes.
- Dogs are allowed in the National Forest in these areas.
- Practice good trail etiquette: if you’re snowshoeing, stay out of the ski track. If you’re skiing, don’t use the snowshoe track.
- Snowmobiles are not allowed in the Sand Flat area, so you’ll find quiet there.