Hedge Creek Falls and Castle Crags 5-13-24

Photos by Linda, Rich, Randy and Steve

Ashland Hiking Home

The Monday hike group left Ashland at 8:00 AM for our drive down into California. It was a clear blue sky day with no smoke from seasonal wildfires.

The plan was for two hikes, a short bonus hike to Hedge Creek Falls off Exit 724, then the main event up the Castle Crags off Exit 732 (Castella).

We made good time on I-5 even with lanes closed for road work. We arrived across from the Falls trail shortly after 9 am.

The trail descends into a canyon towards the showering falls. Hedge Creek Falls is special because there's room to walk behind the falls and continue on the trail to an observation deck. The deck offers a view of the confluence of the Sacramento River and Hedge Creek joining. And, upriver, Mt. Shasta is seen rising over the canyon.

These rewarding sights are completed in just 1.2 miles RT with a gain of 140'.

Then, it's just a short drive down the freeway to Exit 732 and the entrance into Castle Crags State Park. The Park fee is $7 per car for seniors and the young Ranger advised us to carry plenty of water for the warm uphill hike. 

From the entrance, it's a windy 2.1 drive up to Vista Point parking, with a short downhill walk to the Crags Trail. After about a quarter mile of level trail, the Crags Trail splits off from the Root Creek Trail and heads uphill for 2.8 miles to the top of the Crags. The first half of the climb is through the forest with intermittent shade. Then the last half is an exposed rocky trail up to the lunch spot at the base of Castle Dome. Monday's temperatures ranged from low 70s to mid 80s.

After lunch, there's a short hike up the Dome and a crawl out to an east-facing cliff with a guarding cable for a spectacular view of snow-covered Mt. Shasta.

The hike down is not as physically demanding as the hike up but you still must be aware of loose gravel on the rocks.

We had 4 newbies and 6 veterans hiking the Crags Monday for this most demanding and rewarding experience.
Back at the parking lot we had cold bottled water for our thirsty hikers.

We stopped at Yak's in Dunsmuir for post-hike refreshments and arrived back in Ashland by 5:00 PM.

Happy Trails,
Rich