Castle Crags State Park & Mt. Shasta

When we returned from our holiday in Southern California (Disneyland, Legoland, & Long Beach), we were in dire need of some outdoor time.  Solitude and peace that only nature could provide.  The weather Sunday morning was perfect – sunny and relatively cool so we ventured out for long hike to Castle Crags State Park.

Castle Crags State Park features 28 miles of hiking trails, including a 2.7 mile access trail to Castle Crags Wilderness, part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.  The Pacific Crest Trail also passes through the park.  The park is named for the 6,000-feet tall glacier-polished crags.  The solitude you experience as you explore the forest or traverse part of the Pacific Crest Trail cannot be matched.

The spectacular mountains you see in these pictures represent vastly different geologic stories and processes that have been shaping the land for more than 500 million years.  The persistent forces of day-to-day erosion, together with slow earth movements, keep this mountain landscape in dynamic flux.

The Gray Rocks are mainly greenstone and are a detached portion of the Copley Formation, related to the ancient and complex geologic history of the Klamath Range.  The spectacular Castle Crags are made of granite that cooled slowly deep within the earth.  Over time, this granite was uplifted and the rock above it worn away.  Once the granite was exposed to the elements, water and ice have taken over as the main sculpting forces, breaking fractures in the rock, creating the castle-like features.

Mt. Shasta reaches the impressive height of 14,179 feet and is by far, the youngest geologic feature in the area. Mt Shasta is volcanic, forming in episodes beginning 530,000 years ago and last erupting in 1786.  Considered dormant now, it will undoubtedly become active again in the future.

It was an awesome day.  We planned ahead and managed to bring along snacks and plenty of water to drink. It was an arduous hike, however, so we rewarded ourselves with dinner in Dunsmuir – where we discovered a little brewery.  The food was delicious and though our bodies were tired, our spirits were rejuvenated.

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