With 365 miles of shoreline, Shasta Lake has a lot to offer hikers, bikers, equestrians and trail runners. Many of the trails are short spurs heading down to the water, carved out by anglers looking to access the best fishing spots, but there are plenty of loops and longer hikes as well. The Samwel Cave Nature Trail takes you on a 1-mile tour through an ancient landscape steeped in legend to the mouth of Samwel Cave. The freshwater pools deep inside were once a sacred bathing place and are still considered holy to the Wintu Tribe (Samwel means “holy place” in Wintu) in the area. Vandalism and accidents prompted the Forest Service to restrict public access to the cave in 1972, but you can still enjoy the view from the mouth.
Cavers can apply for special permits at the Shasta Lake Ranger Station. If caves aren’t your thing, plenty of other trails for people of all ages and abilities surround the lake. To find the best-suited trail, ask for guidance at the Shasta Lake Visitor Information Center off I-5 at the Mountain Gate/Wonderland Blvd., exit 687. Follow signs to the center.