Visitors exploring the Shasta-McCloud Management Unit (SMMU) may be surprised to find that there is still snow in many places. The winter of 2016-2017 was an exceptionally wet one during which the local mountains received 150% of normal precipitation, and much of the snowpack above 7,000 feet remains.
All of that snow affects recreation opportunities on the SMMU. Information Assistant Dave Wolfe explains, “Visitors should be aware that they may not get to some parts of the SMMU as soon as they thought they could. There is still snow above 7,000 feet and many roads have snow on them and visitors may find themselves stuck if they try to drive over the snow.”
The roads to some of the most popular trailheads that access the Mount Shasta Wilderness are snowbound. “Bunny Flat has so much snow that parking there can be very congested and difficult to navigate, so plan accordingly. Additionally, we predict that it will be quite some time, late July to early August, before the gate at Bunny Flat is opened and the road to Panther Meadow and the old Ski Bowl is free of snow,” explained Wolfe.
“You may find yourself hiking miles just to get to the trailhead before you even start your climb up Mount Shasta,” warned Wolfe. Access to some of the upper elevation trails like the trail to Heart Lake and Mumbo Basin are also impacted by snow. Visitors may want to try lower elevation trails such as Lake Siskiyou, Squaw Creek, the Pacific Crest Trail from Ash Camp to Castle Crags, or the McCloud River Trail. “The good news is that prime climbing season will last longer than in recent years,” according to Wolfe.
Snow is not the only concern. While traveling National Forest System Roads visitors may encounter downed trees, rockslides or other storm damage. Road crews are currently working to mitigate these problem areas. Forest Road 11 is closed due to snowdrifts and a mudslide at Deer Creek. The Pit River 4 and 5 Roads are heavily impacted by mudslides and it will be some time before they are opened to through traffic.
“You may be looking forward to swimming or fishing the McCloud River this season, so be ready to see a majestic waterway flowing in all of its glory,” said Wolfe. The upper river, home to the Lower, Middle and Upper Falls, is a sight to see, but visitors should be aware that the current is very strong, running at 1,200 cubic feet per second (cfs), and is also very cold. With late spring and early summer rainfall, as well as the heat of summer that is on its way, expect more water as the snowpack on the mountain melts off.
Fishing in many places is difficult for the average angler due to the high flow. With the McCloud River running swift and fast, kayakers will find many challenging rapids in between the put-in at Pine Tree Hollow to the McCloud Reservoir.
Remember to always consider safety as you enjoy your time on the Shasta-McCloud Management Unit.