Shasta Gravity Adventures has a shuttle run that is definitely in a league all its own. The Sisson Callahan Trail is for accomplished riders only due to the effort required to climb, and the skill set needed to survive a long technical downhill.
Eleven of us boarded the shuttle at the Box Canyon parking lot at 9:00 AM and then we were transported to the Deadfall Meadows Trailhead in less than an hour.
Unfortunately, our day was filled with smoke from a fire in Oregon somewhere, and it killed the view but not the beauty of this trail. The ride begins carrying your bike through the Deadfall Meadows to an immediate climb. Optimistically, we rode or tried to ride up as much as possible, but soon all of us resorted to pushing to survive the initial climb to the Deadfall Lakes basin.
The Deadfall Lakes Basin is a welcome sight after the first significant climb, and a chance to ride the bike for a little while. After passing the largest of the Deadfall Lakes, the trail goes along the edge two more lakes on the way to the top of the long-awaited ridgeline. There is a fork in the trail at this point and a choice to climb Mt. Eddy or begin the descent down the Sisson Callahan Trail. The climb up Mt. Eddy adds approximately 1000’ more climbing to the 1600‘ already climbed.
Taking a mountain bike up Mt. Eddy is more of the same pushing experience already encountered, relentless and steep. Without the bicycle, I think the hike would be moderate. Mt. Eddy is the highest point North of I-5 in California with sweeping panoramas from every direction. The view of Mt. Shasta from Mt. Eddy takes the prize for majesty. However, the Western slopes of Mt. Eddy reveal the remnants of glacial sculpting, forming Alpine bowls, lakes, and meadows.
A sole hiker was at the top of Mt. Eddy when I got there, we exchanged greetings, and moved the conversation to where the marker might be. He said he had been all over the top and didn’t see anything, but I assured him there was one to be found. A short while later I found it a few paces south of the old lookout.
I had my views, found Mt. Eddy’s marker, and now it was time to descend. I walked back to where I had left my bicycle and Camelback. The Camelback had close to a dozen bumblebees crawling on it or flying near. In seconds they were flying around my sweaty calves wanting to land on me as well. They seemed friendly, only after the sweat on the Camelback and me, they let me put the pack on and get away without incident. I dropped the seat and started down.
I am an avid trail conservationist and don’t appreciate people causing extra wear, no matter the method. Mountain bikers should dismount on descents where braking traction is lost. Skidding should always be avoided, especially on a shared trail. There are only a few spots on Mt. Eddy that require a courtesy dismount.
The switchbacks on Mt. Eddy have very tight turns. Between the switchbacks, there is probably 100 yards or less, creating a descenders dream. Even though the trail is steep, it rivals anything on the Sisson Callahan Trail from the fun factor. Gentle swooping descents that flow into almost perfectly formed switchback turns. Of course, that is my take on the run, and a different person may dislike it.
At the fork, turn left on the Sisson Callahan Trail and begin the twelve-mile downhill. Riding long swooping trail sections is fast and fun, but mixed throughout are dragons back rock farms that demand focus and deliberate line choice. I was on a hardtail I was using the whole width of the trail to find smoother lines. Taking these sections head-on would be much better on a 4” plus full suspension bicycle.
The Sisson Callahan Trail passes through beautiful old-growth forests, pristine micro-meadows, miles of a rivers-edge gorge, and everything one could associate with them. The views, the plants, and terrain all make this one heck of a trail. The trail intersects a vehicle road in the last leg, turn right, ride several hundred feet, and the trail starts again on the left for the last section of singletrack. The singletrack ends on the NW end of Lake Siskiyou on a gravel road. Turn left for a fast ride on the gravel road, or head towards the lake to get on the lake trail. The final leg on the trail or the road is a fast roll to the parking lot.
This downhill is not for everyone and could put a beginner in many threatening situations. I wouldn’t recommend small wheels on this ride either because they are prone to stopping instantly on obstacles, sending the rider over the handlebars. Warnings aside, the Sisson Callahan Trail with or without Mt. Eddy is a must ride for any hardcore mountain biker.