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11 Most Stunning and Accessible Lakes near Mt Shasta

The lakes surrounding Mt Shasta provide breathtaking views of the mountain and offer a wide range of recreational opportunities, including swimming, boating, fishing, and camping.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Mt Shasta

The lakes surrounding Mt Shasta have breathtaking views of the volcano and offer a wide selection of recreational opportunities.

Most of the options can be reached by car when roads are free from snow, and some are hike-in destinations for visitors who enjoy a challenge.

Swimming, fishing, paddling, and boating are just a few activities to mention. Also, many lakes have campgrounds offering opportunities for multi-day stays, often in a primitive setting.

Don’t miss a chance to visit this stunning natural area and discover its lakes.

Lakes near Mt Shasta:

  1. Lake Siskiyou
  2. Lake McCloud
  3. Iron Canyon Reservoir
  4. Lake Britton
  5. Ahjumawi Lava Springs
  6. Medicine Lake
  7. Shasta Lake
  8. Castle Lake
  9. Toad Lake
  10. Deadfall Lakes
  11. Kangaroo Lake
Lakes near Mount Shasta California Comparison Table
Comparison Table

Distances are provided from the City of Mt Shasta for reference.

1. Lake Siskiyou

Lake Siskiyou and Mt Shasta
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Lake Siskiyou
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 4 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Lake Siskiyou is located between Redding and Yreka, a short distance west of exits 737 and 738 on Interstate 5. 

Eleven miles from the summit of Mount Shasta, as the eagle flies, this impoundment of the Sacramento River sits near a town of the same name. 

Box Canyon Dam went into service in 1970 to provide flood protection. Since its creation, the dam has created new recreation opportunities and generates hydroelectricity. 

Although the reservoir was designed to accommodate 430 acres, persistent drought conditions have reduced water levels in recent years. 

Visitors enjoy swimming, kayaking, wakeboarding, boating, and fishing. A commercial campground offers overnight stays on the lake’s southwestern shore. 

Hikers can experience the Lake Siskiyou Loop Trail, a full seven miles during the summer when the river’s delta is bridged, with most other sections available throughout the year. 

For great views of Box Canyon below the dam, the 1.5-mile Box Canyon Trail allows visitors to see the Sacramento River continue its journey in a narrow gorge. 

Anglers who fish here will enjoy the scenic views while casting a line. Fish commonly found in Lake Siskiyou include bass, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

2. Lake McCloud

McCloud Arm landscape on a sunny summer morning, Northern California
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake McCloud
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 21 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Biking

Located 21 miles southeast of Interstate 5’s Exit 736 (the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway), Lake McCloud was created after the construction of a hydroelectric dam along the McCloud River. 

The dam, owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), went into service in 1965. 

This 520-acre reservoir took shape at a location where many smaller mountain creeks flowed into the McCloud River, providing a perfect location for fishing in narrow waterways and motorboating, as well as water skiing, and jet skiing in the center of the lake. 

A popular summertime destination, Lake McCloud is located within Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The water has a noticeable green color due to volcanic ash and suspended sand particles. 

This day-use area has a narrow road that rings around the lake, crossing over the dam, that offers impressive views and occasional pullouts. 

A parking area and boat launch site are found on the lake’s western shore, near the road that offers the main access to the lake, where Lost Creek flows into the lake. 

Fish found in this reservoir include brown and rainbow trout.

While in the area, visitors should consider visiting three waterfalls upriver from the lake and five miles east of the Town of McCloud. 

Accessible in a parking area near Fowlers Camp Campground, the McCloud River Trail allows guests to walk through a basalt lava rock canyon. 

The trail, like lake access, is open year-round, though winter snow and ice may inhibit access.

3. Iron Canyon Reservoir

Young woman wearing a fishing hat paddles kayak on a lake California.
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Iron Canyon Reservoir
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 38 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A curvy, mountainous drive 15 miles southeast of Lake McCloud, Iron Canyon Reservoir was also formed after PG&E completed a hydroelectric dam in 1965. 

In an area where other creeks merge into Iron Canyon Creek, this 506-acre reservoir occupies a valley in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest with tall trees, hills, and mountains, an area appealing to campers, hunters, and anglers. 

Visitors will find many undeveloped camping areas, two formal camping areas, a launch for smaller boats near Hawkins Landing, and many primitive trails and roads for those who enjoy four-wheel driving. 

Everything from inflatable boats to powerboats is permitted on this reservoir. The US Forest Service manages Deadlun Campground and PG&E provides access to the Hawkins Landing Campground. 

Anglers will find big trout in this lake. Bank fishing is possible. The water level varies seasonally. 

4. Lake Britton

Beautiful waterfall in autumn, with green and yellow trees at the top, taken in the middle of October at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, in Shasta County, Northern California
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Britton
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 49 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Lake Britton is an easily accessible reservoir along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, 49 miles southeast of Exit 736 on Interstate 5. 

Created along a section of the Pit River – the Sacramento River’s longest tributary – the dam owned by PG&E went into service in 1925, creating a 1,293-acre lake. This Shasta County destination is also known as Pit 3 Reservoir.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, a location that gets high visitation between April and October, sits along the lake’s southern shore. 

This park offers opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and picnicking, as well as great views of Burney Falls along Burney Creek, which flows into the lake. 

Dusty Campground and the PG&E’s Jamo Point Boat Launch are other popular destinations.

Those who fish here will find a variety of species. These include bass, crappie, trout, catfish, carp, and bluegill.

5. Ahjumawi Lava Springs

  • Website: Ahjumawi Lava Springs
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 58 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A drive of 58 miles east-southeast from Exit 736 on Interstate 5, Ahjumawi Lava Springs sits along former cattle grazing land that California State Parks acquired in 1975. 

Located where Big Lake, Ja She Creek, Crystal Springs, Horr Pond, and the Fall River come together, this park offers great views of Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, along with some of the Cascade Range. 

Most of the park’s 6,000 acres near these bodies of water have lava flows less than 5,000 years old. Small islets are found in these waterways.

Popular activities at Ahjumawi Lava Springs include camping, boating, fishing, and hiking on more than 20 miles of trails. 

Three primitive camping areas are found at Crystal Springs, near Ja She Creek, and on Horr Pond’s north shore. 

Juniper, oak, and pine forests dominate this landscape, one nurtured by some of the nation’s most active underwater springs. 

Trout are found in this area.

6. Medicine Lake

  • Website: Medicine Lake
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 60 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Medicine Lake is 60 miles northeast of Exit 736 on Interstate 5. 

Camping and recreation areas surrounding this 442-acre lake are approximately 6,770 feet above sea level. 

Medicine Lake Recreation Area is within the Modoc National Forest, an area with many pine trees. 

Those approaching this lake may also want to stop at Blanche Lake and Campground, a few miles southeast of Medicine Lake and near the roadway that brings visitors to this area. 

Visitors to Medicine Lake enjoy camping, fishing, boating, seasonal swimming, hiking, and mountain biking. 

Picnic areas are comfortable gathering places. A trail allows access up to Little Mount Hoffman, four miles to the west. 

Places for overnight stays and night sky viewing along Medicine Lake include A.H. Hogue, Hemlock, Headquarters, and Medicine Campgrounds. 

Fish found in Medicine Lake include rainbow, lake, and brown trout. 

7. Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake California Aerial View1
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Shasta Lake
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 47 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Located immediately north of the City of Shasta Lake, exits 685 through 698 along Interstate 5 offer access to recreational sites on both sides of Shasta Lake. 

Numerous creeks, canyons, and rivers converge in an area where crews built Shasta Dam across the Sacramento River to create this reservoir in the mid-1940s. 

The Pit River, with many waterfalls along its route, joins this reservoir from the east, while the McCloud River flows in from the south. 

Held by one of the tallest dams in the United States, this lake is important for flood control and hydroelectric power as part of the Central Valley Project. 

Part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, it includes numerous campsites and recreation areas. 

Lakeshore East Campground sits on the Sacramento Arm, while Ellery Creek and Moore Creek Campgrounds are along the McCloud Arm. 

Trails and other recreation areas provide lakefront access, handy for anglers fishing for trout, salmon, crappie, bass, and catfish.

8. Castle Lake

Castle Lake and Mt Shasta California
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Castle Lake
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 10 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Located less than ten miles southwest of where Interstate 5 enters the city of Mount Shasta, Castle Lake is a glacial mountain lake in the Trinity Mountains and Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 

This 47-acre lake, at 5,440 feet in elevation, has a depth of 120 feet. 

Road access is difficult between November and May, though diligent winter visitors may access the snow-packed area.

Fishing, camping, and hiking are possible at this cirque lake. Overflow water flows into Castle Lake Creek. 

Castle Lake Campground is ¼ mile below (north of) the lake. 

recreation trail between Castle Lake and Heart Lake, a mile south, offers outstanding views of Mt. Shasta. 

Fish within the lake include brown, brook, and rainbow trout. 

9. Toad Lake

Conifer trees surround and are reflected in the still water of Toad Lake in the Trinity Alps of northern California
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Toad Lake
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 20 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A drive of 18 miles from Lake Siskiyou, the trailhead to 23-acre Toad Lake follows an old jeep trail for a little more than a half-mile in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 

Visiting Toad Lake offers an opportunity to hike, fish, and enjoy nature. The top time to visit is May through September. 

Although year-round access is possible, snow and ice are common at this location, nearly 7,000 feet in elevation, well into the spring. 

Located three miles southwest of Mount Eddy as the eagle flies, Toad Lake is a wonderful place for birdwatching. 

Camping in this area offers spectacular night sky views during cloud-free evenings. 

Although no boats are allowed, bank fishing will offer an opportunity to catch trout. 

10. Deadfall Lakes

  • Website: Deadfall Lakes
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 27 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A 27-mile drive northwest of the City of Mount Shasta provides access to the Deadfall Lakes along the Mount Eddy Trail. The Deadfall Lakes sit on the mountain’s western slope. 

A journey along Deadfall Creek offers great opportunities for walking, with the best access during the summer months into October. 

The trailhead begins at 6,800 feet in elevation, with the biggest lake – Middle Deadfall Lake – at 7,259 feet and Upper Deadfall Lake at 7,790. Mt. Eddy’s peak is at 9,025 feet. 

Those visiting the Deadfall Lakes will see alpine flowers during warmer months, a great time for those who do not mind cooler water to take a swim. 

Enjoying the views and catching fish are popular pastimes at this hike-in destination. Rainbow and brook trout swim in these lakes, waiting for anglers. 

11. Kangaroo Lake

An early morning photograph of Kangaroo Lake in Northern California. The Glassy water creates a mirror image of the trees and mountains in the back ground
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Kangaroo Lake
  • Distance from Mt Shasta: 43 miles
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Kangaroo Lake is on the west side of Cory Peak, a drive of a little more than 42 miles from the City of Mount Shasta. 

Kangaroo Lake Campground offers the perfect starting point with a ¼ mile-long paved trail that offers direct access to the 25-acre lake. 

Although there is no ramp at Kangaroo Lake, canoes and other motorless craft are permitted. 

Visitors to this area should remember that this is bear country and prepare accordingly. 

Daytime walks will provide great opportunities for birding, as well as places where hikers can enjoy a period of solitude while enjoying nature. 

Rainbow, brook, and brown trout swim in this lake. 

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