On this drive you will see Mt. Shasta from every angle, pass through the impressive forests of White Fir and Shasta Red Fir, and get a close up view of glaciers and lava flows. You will also pass through three historic towns along the way.
Start in Mt. Shasta City and head north on I-5 to the city of Weed.
Best Time to Travel:
Roads are usually open from May through November, and the best time to travel is from late June through October.
Combination of paved and dirt roads.
Forest Service Region:
Pacific Southwest Region (R5)
Along the route:
Mileage below is rounded to the nearest half mile.
On this drive you will see Mt. Shasta from every angle, pass through the impressive forests of White Fir and Shasta Red Fir, and get a close up view of glaciers and lava flows. You will also pass through three historic towns along the way. You might need your four-wheel drive for parts of this route.
Mile 0.0 Starting in Mt. Shasta City, go North on I-5.
Mile 8 In the city of Weed, take exit # 747 and head northeast on HWY 97
Mile 21 On the north side of the road you will pass the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden which commemorates veterans of the Vietnam War.
Mile 22.5 Turn right onto Military Pass (Forest Road 43N19) Imagine taking this drive in a wagon; what you can accomplish in a few hours in a car would have taken days in a wagon. On this leg of the journey you will find spectacular views of Mt. Shasta’s northern face that are not available from the freeway.
Mile 24.5 You will cross the Southern Pacific Rail line.
Mile 27 There is a turn off to the right to access the North Gate Trailhead for climbing Mt. Shasta from the north, a recreational fee is required.
Mile 29.5 You reach the Military Pass basin area and a road that accesses the North Gate and Inconstance Trailheads, turn right and go three miles down a dirt road if you want to go to the trailhead. If you choose to take a hike, in as little as 45 minutes you will reach the tree line. And for those who are willing to invest more time, it is possible to reach the base of the Mt. Shasta Glaciers.
Mile 33.5 Military Pass Road merges with HWY 19(Forest Road 42N12).
Mile 35.5 Road intersects with Forest Road 42N02. This marks the beginning of the fir forest. HWY 31 at this intersection heads back by McKenzie Butte and Mt. Shasta Ski Park. To continue on the Military Pass Loop, continue Southeast on HWY 19/Military Pass Road.
Mile 42.5 You have reached Pilgrim Creek Snowmobile Park. Here you find access to wintertime use of the groomed snowmobile trail system.
Mile 45 Turn right on Pilgrim Creek Road (Forest Road 13) to stay on the route. From this point on the roads will be paved; however, you do have the option to continue on Military Pass Road. (If you do continue on Military Pass Road, you will intersect HWY 89 at Cattle Camp where you will turn right to complete the loop.)
Mile 49.5 Cross a bridge over Mud Creek
Mile 51.5 Cross over the McCloud River Rail Line.
Mile 52.5 Forest Road 13 meets HWY 89. Turn right and head west on HWY 89. Or, to see McCloud River Falls go straight on F.R. 13 and take a quick left towards Fowler’s Camp and Lower Falls. Look for signs for hiking trails to the Middle and Upper Falls. To complete the loop, head back to HWY 89 towards McCloud.
Mile 56 Have a look around the historic lumber town of McCloud. Continue westward on HWY 89 to complete the loop.
Mile 60.5 You pass Snowman Hill and the turn off for Mt. Shasta Ski Resort.
Mile 66 You reach the intersection of HWY 89 and I-5, head north to Mt. Shasta City to get back to your starting point and complete the loop.
The area currently known as Mt. Shasta City was originally called Strawberry Valley or Berryvale because of the many wild berries found there. Mount Shasta city took its name in 1924.
Weed has a diverse demographic compared to other cities in Siskiyou County. This is due in part to minority migrations to jobs in the lumber and manufacturing industry in the early 1900s. The Long Bell Lumber Company closed two mills in Louisiana in 1922, then promised to pay the travel expense and provide housing for families willing to relocate to work in the Weed facility.
Military Pass Road was built, in part, by the U.S. Army in 1855. The original route has changed since its early days as a wagon road. Gerald Hoertling discovered that the route marked on today’s maps was not the same as the original wagon road shown on 1883 Government Land Office maps. The shifts in the road took place in 1910 and between 1924 and 1931. The road went by many names in its early days, such as Lockhart Wagon Road (after the brothers who laid it out hoping for more business for their ferry service), the road from Red Bluffs to Yreka, and Shasta Valley Road are just a few. The name Military Pass was adopted officially in the 1940s when a local historian expressed that it was first used by soldiers. Emigrants were actually the first to use this road, carrying their families, cattle, and sheep along the trail. Later, stagecoaches traveled back and forth along this route but in the late 1850s the Military established a presence, escorting travelers to protect them from the frequent Indian attacks along the road. Pilgrim Creek area used to serve as a stop for the stagecoaches traveling this route. (In Search of Military Pass Road, Cassidy and Hoertling, 1996)
The Military Pass Area is a basin where high water tables, cold air drainage and persistent snow cover foster open stands of lodgepole pine. The most common shrub component in these stands is the current bush.
Joaquin Miller, known as the Poet of the Sierras, homesteaded this area before the town of McCloud was established. He said of Mt. Shasta, “Lonely as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California.”
In 1897 the town of McCloud was established by George W. Scott and William VanArsdale, founders of the McCloud River Railroad Company.
Maps & Directions
Fuel, Food, and Lodging are available in Mt. Shasta City, Weed, and McCloud.
Fowler’s Campground is the only Forest Service Campground along this route. It is located 5.2 miles east of the city of McCloud.
Photo Gallery Click the images below for bigger versions: