Glacier-clad Mount Shasta towers over Interstate 5 in far northern California, flanked by huge areas of forests and high mountains, with sparkling waterfalls and clear cold rivers. Skiing, hiking, fishing, historic towns and great scenery make this an area with something for everyone.
The western part of the region I have defined here is the geologically complex Klamath Mountains. The Klamath River loops through a jumble of individually named mountain ranges, the highest being the Marble Moutanins and the Trinity Alps. The Trinity River runs south, then west, then north to join the Klamath, with the historic Weaverville gold country near its south-to-west bend, and the Bigfoot-sighting nexus of Willow Creek at the west-to-north corner. The entire Klamath area is botanically rich, with an area in the Russian Wilderness having the greatest diversity of coniferous species in the world.
The ancient rocks of the Klamath are buried beneath much newer volcanic rock from Mount Shasta eastwards into the Modoc Plateau. Mount Shasta is massive, big enough to make its own weather, venerated by both Native Americans and New Age types. The heavy snowfall on its slopes sinks into the porous volcanic rocks, to emerge as huge springs that form the Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit Rivers, including several notable waterfalls.
There are no cities in this region, but four of its small towns are worth a look: Yreka, an old gold camp; Weed, no longer a lumber mill town but still strategically placed at a highway junction and site of a popular community college; Mount Shasta City, religious center, highway stop, and ski town; and McCloud, a classic company town.