The Great Shasta Rail Trail invites outdoor recreation enthusiasts to explore the magnificence of Northern California's untamed forests and enjoy the quiet and fresh air far away from population centers. Opened in 2013, hundreds of hikers, bicyclists, runners, and equestrians have enjoyed 40 miles of packed volcanic cinder trail bed and have contributed to local economies' growth. Work on the trail continues - another 27 miles of trail will open this fall when the Dry Creek Bridge project is completed.
The Great Shasta Rail Trail will link the towns of McCloud and Burney and nearby recreation areas along an 80 mile trail that will feature local heritage, scenic landscapes, and stimulate the economic and social vitality of the region.
Nestled in pristine mountains and open forests, near creeks and lakes and with majestic views of Mount Shasta is the Great Shasta Rail Trail (GSRT).Linking the mountain towns of McCloud and Burney, the red cinder trail carried McCloud Railway lumber trains for over a century. The public is invited to experience Mother Nature's sights and sounds as they traverse the trail through the Shasta-Trinity and Lassen National Forests.
Established in McCloud in 1896, the railroad expanded with timber harvests; trains arrived in Bartle in 1905 and Burney in 1955. The GSRT uses the long bed of lava cinders that supported railroad's rails and depends on the hundreds of culverts that were installed to preserve the rail line and protect local watersheds.
Opened in 2015, trail is for non-motorized activities - biking, running, walking, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and equestrian. Open sections include (on the McCloud end) Pilgrim Creek Road to Bartle, then north on the Hambone Line or south from Bartle to Bartle Gap. The Burney Trailhead (Hwy 299 at Black Ranch Road) has ample parking and is the starting point to a seven-mile hike or bike trip to the Lake Britton bridge (featured in the 1986 movie "Stand By Me"). An additional 27 miles of trail will open next year when the Dry Creek Bridge is replaced.
The trail, whose development began in 2005, was established by a coalition of five local non-profit organizations. It was made possible when the McCloud Railway filed papers to close part of its operations (2005). Beginning in 2009 the coalition raised funds and did the work necessary to purchase the property (2015) and open 40 miles of trail to the public for non-motorized recreational use.
The work of developing the trail was handed from the informal coalition of non-profits to the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association (GSRTA), a non-profit formed to own and manage the trail (2013). That all-volunteer group continues to focus on trail development by raising funds, writing plans (trail concept, infrastructure development, and sign), developing local relationships/partnerships, and recruiting volunteers and leading their efforts. The organization's web site www.greatshastarailtrail.org provides an excellent resource for more information about the trail - maps, directions for accessing the trail, railroad history, and the Trail Concept Plan are all available.
Ultimately, the GSRTA will produce a first-class 120-mile trail that connects the Burney/McArthur area to the McCloud/Mt. Shasta area, providing year-round recreation opportunities and promoting economic growth.