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This was the view from my camp site at Ellery Creek Campground on Gilman Road.  The McCloud River empties into Shasta Lake farther downstream.

McCloud River from Ellery Creek CampgroundView All Sizes

On the way down to McCloud Campground the road crosses the river at McCloud Bridge. Below, the water is clear and inviting on a hot Summer day. On the left you can see a trail that leads to the campground.

McCloud River from the BridgeView All Sizes

JOURNAL : August 22, 2009

Exploring and Camping at Shasta Lake

California > United States

Series Exploring and Camping at Shasta Lake
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Shasta Lake is a great place for alot of activities like boating, fishing, hunting, waterskiing, hiking, camping and motorcycling. It was these last few that int'rested me the most.

This is the thing which created the reservoir called Shasta Lake. Before they put this thing in here there was a town called Kennett and lots of land occupied by the Winnemem Wintu indians. Shasta Dam generates a big wad of electricity for millions of people, helps irrigate vast tracts of land and provides flood control for the Sacramento River.

Shasta Dam & Shasta LakeView All Sizes

Shasta Lake is famous for boating and waterskiiing recreation. Houseboats are nestled here and there, and many boat ramps are available around the lake. As you can see the water level is quite low, probably due to the drought this year, increasing the need for irrigation water from this large reservoir.

Boating and Waterskiing on Shasta LakeView All Sizes

Whole Lotta Lakes

After camping at a series of lakes from Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear in the south to Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino in the North it was natural I'd spend a slew of days cruising Shasta Lake for that ideal campground.

Lake Shasta Campgrounds

The first night I checked out Salt Creek campground and found it to be shut to vehicular camping but open to walk-in campers. The grounds were dirt but equipped with tables and vault toilets in a nice forested area on the banks of a long-dry river. Ditto Oak Grove around the corner, so I ended up camping in a remote cul-de-sac for the night. Despite the fact that it wasn't a legitimate camp site, the area was still quite scenic. Nearby the Union Pacific howled across a high trestle over the dry river valley.

Each day a short jaunt down the river from my camp site was rewarded with a crystal-clear and refreshing swim in the McCloud River. Sometimes I bathed, sometimes dived into the rapids from the rocks, and one time even gave the dog a bath in the cool water.

Swimming in McCloud RiverView All Sizes

Gilman Road

The next day I cruised Gilman Road's abundance of campgrounds. Several were closed but the best ones were still open. Along the winding road are Hirz Bay (open), Moore Creek (closed), Ellery Creek (open), Pine Point (closed) and McCloud (open) campgrounds. Gilman Road is an exit off the 5 and all campground in the area are within 15 minutes of the freeway. It is also an excellent road for motorcycling!

Although there were many nice campgrounds along Gilman Road, Hirz Bay was adjacent to a boat ramp for launching boats into Shasta Lake. Hirz Bay campground was also well maintained and quite spacious. Unfortunately it is difficult to capture an entire campground with one lame photo.

Hirz Bay CampgroundView All Sizes

Ellery Creek Campground

I was immediately smitten with the peaceful Ellery Creek Campground adjacent to McCloud River, which flows into Shasta Lake. The grounds are well-maintained and situated within the dense forest, providing excellent shade and privacy. Camp site #12 had the most awesome panoramic view at the top of this page. During the day I was usually able to find a good patch of sunlight to situate the 3'x5' solar panel which generates 10 amps at 12V to keep both deep-cycle marine batteries charged enough to accommodate daily loads like the laptop, lights, stereo and refrigerator. At night a cool breeze blew through camp.

Site #12 at Ellery Creek Campground had the best view of both the lush surrounding forest and the broad panorama of the McCloud River and valley. It was also nice and shady, yet allowed some sun in for the solar panel.

My Campsite at Ellery CreekView All Sizes

In the morning the sun lit up the river valley and its magnificent scenery. I spent three nights and four days in this spot. The lush, beautiful campground was completely empty the whole time. A fisherman appeared along the river one day and sometimes the maintenance man showed up to check the restrooms.

The only downside was the lack of any cellular signal or internet access via Verizon' mobile broadband access. A hi-gain antenna might have remedied this. Otherwise it was an amazing spot.

Gregory Creek Campground

Besides the aforementioned locations the only other site I spocked was Gregory Creek Campground, which was open. Nearby is a broad red rock recreation area adjacent to the Sacramento River. In the distance a long bridge supporting the 5 freeway can be seen.

At the end of a day of motorcycling the curvy Gilman Road from Ellery Creek Campground over to Shasta Dam and back. The best part is that for many many miles I saw not even a single vehicle in either direction. I had the countryside to myself!

Ellery Creek CampgroundView All Sizes

The Shasta Lake area has many other campgrounds and RV parks. Even in the peak of Summer they seemed quite empty, possibly due to the great expanse of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area.

After Shasta Lake I headed north to Mt. Shasta...

Shasta Lake

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Each day a short jaunt down the river from my camp site was rewarded with a crystal-clear and refreshing swim in the McCloud River. Sometimes I bathed, sometimes dived into the rapids from the rocks, and one time even gave the dog a bath in the cool water.

About this day

Exploring and Camping at Shasta Lake

August 22, 2009

California > United States

Tags   Camping · Rivers · Parks

Mt. Shasta Series | All United States Locations

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The famous Rock Store on Mulholland Highway near Seminole Hot Springs.

The Rock Store

Although there were many nice campgrounds along Gilman Road, Hirz Bay was adjacent to a boat ramp for launching boats into Shasta Lake. Hirz Bay campground was also well maintained and quite spacious. Unfortunately it is difficult to capture an entire campground with one lame photo.

Hirz Bay Campground

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Travel Town Railroad Museum at the foot of Griffith Park.

Travel Town

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