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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Shasta snow wreath. Shasta snow wreath (Neviusia cliftonii). Photo by Julie Kierstead Nelson.

western spice bush. Western spice bush (Calycanthus occidentalis). Photo by Ken DeCamp.

umbrella plant beside a waterfall. Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata). Photo by Ken DeCamp.

Waters Gulch Trail

Forest: Shasta-Trinity National Forest

District: Shasta Lake Ranger District

Description: The 2.8 mile trail descends through Waters Gulch to the shore of Shasta Lake, and then climbs back over a saddle to descend to Packers Bay. The paved road from the Packers Bay boat ramp back up to the Waters Gulch trailhead can be walked to complete the loop.

Viewing Information: On its descent through Waters Gulch, the trail bisects a large population of Shasta snow-wreath, Neviusia cliftonii, a very rare shrub discovered and named in 1993 by California botanists. The trail is shaded by mixed conifer-hardwood forest for most of the way, with some stretches of chaparral. Many classic California spring wildflowers and flowering shrubs are plentiful, including California pipevine, California buckeye, western redbud, snowdrop bush, marbled wild ginger, firecracker flower, red larkspur, and scarlet fritillary. The best wildflower shows are between March and the end of May. Shasta snow-wreath blooms in the latter part of April.

Safety First: Summer temperatures are regularly over 100 degrees in this part of California, so carry plenty of water, or visit during milder times of the year. The trail is rocky and uneven in places; wear sturdy footwear. Poison-oak is a common understory plant. Be familiar with its various guises—it can be a shrub or twining vine, brushing against your legs and arms or even dangling from overhead. As with any trail in the Shasta Lake area, you may encounter a rattlesnake or a black bear. Visit the Shasta-Trinity recreation web page for sensible precautions you can take to minimize poison-oak, bear, and rattlesnake concerns.

Directions: Access is from Interstate 5 south, Packers Bay exit. For northbound access, take O’Brien exit, get back on I-5 south, and then exit at Packers Bay. Follow signs toward Packers Bay boat ramp. Trailhead and gravel parking area are on the right, 1 mile from the Packers Bay off ramp.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Shasta Unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area.

Closest Town: Redding, California.