First of five 'Creating the Gateway Trail' articles

First of five articles by Kathy Medina

A “trail of dreams” for local mountain bikers Andrew Braugh and Shawn Raley, who spent three years making their dream a reality, is taking shape on the slopes of Mount Shasta. Named the Gateway Trail because it offers access to the forest from town, the shared-use trail is open to mountain bikers, hikers, runners, dog walkers, and equestrians.

The Trailhead and new parking lot are nine-tenths of a mile past the Mount Shasta High School on the right of Everitt Memorial Highway.  With signs yet to come, locals will understand directions like, “just after the last house on the right,” “just before the log-framed permit sign” or “at One Mile Road.”

At the head of the trail an observant eye may notice a sign posted on a tree advising about trail etiquette: bikers yield to hikers and horses, hikers yield to horses.  On a weekend morning, cars with bikes fill the new parking lot.  

According to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Gateway Trails are a class of trails that “position standout facilities in places where lots of people can experience the joy of mountain biking.”  The new trail curves up the lower flank of Mount Shasta through open brush fields and conifer plantations, offering superb views of the Eddys, Castle Crags, Black Butte, and the mountain itself. In its rough, newly minted condition, the trail is an example of the art of environmentally sensitive and sustainable trail building.  The immense effort required to forge a new path is evident in the piles of Manzanita brush along the way. The trail showcases natural features like dry washes and rocky outcroppings and, once in the forest, magnificent understory microclimates of dogwood, thimbleberry, and fern.  

The six miles of new trail completed last fall were a collaborative effort of the Mount Shasta Trail Association and the Shasta McCloud Management Unit of the Forest Service, funded in large part by a $100,000 federal grant for recreational trails administered by California State Parks and Recreation.  Other local contributors include the Trail Association, the Forest Service, Mountain Wheelers, and the Kimball Foundation.

At its upper end, the Gateway Trail loops around and incorporates a system of about three miles of previously unauthorized user-built mountain biking trails known locally as the Tunnel Trails, so it is easy to travel nine miles or more one way from town. The Trail Association has more work to do – goals for this year include adding a kiosk at the trailhead, providing trail signs, and finishing an additional mile of trail at the upper end that will form a loop back toward Stellar Way and the Everitt Memorial parking area.
If you bike or hike the trail now before the signs are in place, use a map to plan your return route before you set out. The area that includes the Tunnel Trails, along with old logging roads and skid trails, can be confusing. Maps can be printed from the Mount Shasta Trail Association website.

Next week:  Next Generation in the National Forest

• Kathy Medina (Polkinghorn) is a local writer, retired from a career in history at the University of California.  She and her husband, Bob Polkinghorn, have lived in Mount Shasta since 2008.