It Hasta be Shasta! (350 miles)



There was no getting around that it was going to be hot today. The only real escape was elevation. Redding was supposed to be 107 for the high which is just miserable. The big problem with this time of year is that the high comes late in the day so it was worth staying at elevation as long as one could. I decided to go west and north and explore the Trinity Alps, north west of Redding.

The easiest way to get from Red Bluff to Redding is I-5. One can use the 36/Platina road route which is a nice ride, but most of that ride is at low elevation so I figured I’d just take the highway and head to the hills. Highway 299 is the main backbone of this area. It carries the bulk of the traffic from US-101 in Eureka to I-5 in Redding. Because of this most of the turns are less technical and there is more traffic on this route than it’s peer to the south, CA-36. It was an easy ride from Redding to Weaverville. I’d left Redding with two bars on the tank and had 45 miles to go to the next gas station. After 40 miles of wondering, I give in and get gas after 20 miles of blinking on reserve in the small burg of Douglas City.

With both bike and rider fed, it was time to head north on CA-3. CA-3 is very much a diverse highway. It’s got good sweepers, fast straights, and a few very technical sections going over mountain passes. The pavement is good for the length of the highway. The temperatures were about perfect and the winds were calm. I’m surprised at how much snow is left this late in the season. I figured most of the snow was over in the Sierras and the Cascades, but this area has it’s fair share as well as you can see coming over the rise.

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I left Highway 3 at the now defunct town of Callahan. It looked like it was a major stop at some point, but I’m guessing Interstate 5 and US-99 (at the time) sapped the life out of this community. The asphalt today is like rivers of yesteryear. Without the flow of people, towns slowly fade away. Callahan has an old motel that appears to be undergoing restoration. If it’s redone, it would be a great place to overnight in the Scott Valley. Heading west is Cecilville Road. If there was a better example for pork barrel funding I’d be impressed.

Cecilville Road is just awesome! It’s one of those roads that has excellent pavement, awesome turns, and no cars. I only had time to ride up to Carter Summit. I climbed up to the Helicopter pad and the view was incredible! This is the heart of the Trinity Alps country and it’s every bit as good as the Sierra Nevada with less people. There were just a few cars at the trailhead here on a holiday weekend.

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I had one of those “oh crap moments.” On the way down from the summit I thought my brake cables were fraying. I could see two splitting strands coming out from where the brakes crimp to the master cylinder. Here I was at the top of some mountain with brake issues. On closer inspection, I looks like I had some company. The frays in my brake cables were his antennae! No idea what kind of bug it was, but this stowaway got kicked back to the pavement!

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I’ve come to love the Etna Brewery and Pub. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere and is always full of patrons when I stop in. Service is slow. Plan on spending more than a few minutes here enjoying the beer. The kitchen is tiny which doesn’t help. But the scenery is great and it’s a nice stopover.

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Etna Brewery Pub (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingCVery much par with other establishments.
AtmosphereAReally nice front patio and very much a fun place to eat
Wait StaffD-Service is dog slow. Wait staff can be friendly depending on who you get
FoodAGood. The sandwiches are good. Portions are just right but may leave you a touch hungry if you’re starving. Beer is awesome though!
ValueCPriced in line with other similar restaurants.
OverallB+It’s a place that is a little rough around the edges in the hospitality department, but the location is awesome, beer is good, and well I keep going back year after year.

And they celebrate America’s birthday as well!

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Their Classic Gold Ale is excellent. It also comes in an 80z glass: just enough for a taste.


After lunch it was time to head east over to Mt. Shasta. There are plenty of ways over, but why not take the most fun? Twisties abound!

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Shasta is one of those places that I’ve found impressive from the first time I saw the mountain. It’s a volcano that is about 14,500 feet high. Unlike the Sierras, the mountain sits by it’s lonesome out in the middle of a relative valley. The elevation difference from the valley floor to the summit is about 9500 feet. While the pictures are cool, it doesn’t do the mountain justice.

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The back side of the mountain looks very different than the front. You can see more of the volcanic features. The Everitt Memorial Highway runs up the back of the mountain. The problem is that the road was closed at Bunny Flat. There was so much now it looked like the middle of winter. Ha! It’s JULY 3rd!! Talk about a long winter’s grip.

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By the time I got on the road to head back to town it was getting late. I took the easy way out and pledged to modern convenience by riding Interstate 5. In most places the 5 is long, hot, and boring. In this area however, it’s quite twisty. As the Interstate makes its way through the mountains the road follows the contours of the mountains on it’s way to Redding. It’s fun to wick it up in the high speed sweepers with the surprisingly light traffic on a holiday weekend.

CalTrans was warning of closures on I-5 two weekends out down in Los Angeles. That seemed a bit odd since I was about 650 miles away from LA. A friend of mine pointed out that the message was probably targeted to trucks as Interstate 5 is a core part of the transit system in California.

With all the winter rains and snow, Lake Shasta was full! I’d never seen the lake full before. Once a little closer to Redding the billboards for the “world famous Sundial Bridge” appeared on the side of the road. After the 5th one, I decided it was time to go see it. It was 8pm and 90 degrees. The hotel wasn’t going to be that much cooler and I’d likely not stop again.

I thought the bridge was for cars, but it turns out that it’s a footbridge. The thing looks sort of like a big harp. It was too late to test the sundial functionality, but it looked sort of cool against the twilight sky.

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Map of the day:


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