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Reaching New Heights in Siskiyou

Climbing Northern California

While known for the majestic Mount Shasta towering at 14,179 feet, Northern California has a plethora of climbing.

Climbers flock to these northernmost mountains for day-trips and weekend excursions, and there is something for every activity level.


Lover’s Leap, Castle Crags, Cantara Loop Rock and Mount Shasta are some of the major attractions, although many other areas are available for climbing adventures. 

Lover’s Leap

Elevation: 5,165’

Difficulty: Easy to Difficult

Lover’s Leap is a local favorite around Scott Valley, one that truly is considered a hidden gem.

It is a limestone plug on top of a ridge line, with 360-degree views of the entire valley.

Climbers rate the rock quality from good to excellent. Lover’s Leap is generally accessible year-round, although spring and fall are best for climbing, due to high temperatures in the summer and snow in the winter. 

Most routes are bolted, with great potential for new routes at various grades. A local favorite is Kinship of Fools, which is a great short and steep 50-foot bouldery route. Big pulls and good holds are some of the best attributes of this route. The route begins on a vertical face, transitioning to a short low angle section, and then onto the steep section. The area typically has both sun and shaded areas available. Approximately 75 routes are available, with potential for more. 

Remote camping is available.

Lover’s Leap is definitely off the beaten path. To get to this haven, take Old Highway 99 north to to Gazelle Callahan Road, take a left. Follow this windy road over Gazelle Mountain for 23.5 miles. Take a left on Masterson Road and then a left onto Kangaroo Creek Road. Stay on Kangaroo Creek Road for nearly 4 miles, then take the sharp turn to the left, and go for another mile. Park at the clearing to the left and hike to Lover’s Leap. 

**Do not get this confused with the Lover’s Leap Summit in Tahoe. 

Castle Crags Wilderness

Elevation: 7,000’

Difficulty: Difficult 

The Castle Crags Wilderness is dominated by the soaring granite cliffs and spires, domes and walls that reach from 2,300 to 7,000 feet. Climbing routes range from 20 to 900 feet, with views of Mount Shasta on most routes. 

The crags can be found easily by following the signs on I5. The park is heavily trafficked, so the route is clearly marked. Parking and camping is available at the main entrance to Castle Crags State Park. If you want to camp near your climbing site, bring plenty of water. The hike in is a steep 1.5 miles on a nice trail. 

The crags are part of the Klamath Mountains Geological Province, with rocks predominately consisting of volcanic and sedimentary types.

A few of the favorite routes are The Dome, Bull Dog Rock, Indian Springs Canyon, and The Grotto. 

Cantara Loop Rock

Elevation: 80’

Difficulty: Moderate

Cantara Loop Rock is a great shaded, creekside rock wall - perfect for those hot summer days. Don’t let the easy access deter the trip, this wall has a lot of room to work, access to water, and is shaded - this is a rock climber’s dream. 

There are nearly a dozen different routes, ranging in difficulty. The Tower and Komatose are two great routes. The Tower is recognizable as the tallest and most prominent feature on the rock wall. Climb up to the first bolt, and begin the 100-foot climb. Komatose also comes in at 100 feet, and is known for being a great bolted sport route. This route is fairly new, and is to the left of The Tower route. 

The Cantara Loop makes for a great day trip, and with many different routes, there is something for everyone. 

To get there, follow Cantara Loop Road from Old Stage in Mount Shasta. Park and begin your short five-minute walk to the climbing wall. Water is available on your left when heading towards the wall. 

Mount Shasta

Elevation: 14,179’

Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult

Towering over the quaint city of Mount Shasta, the mountain reaches 14,179 feet. Mount Shasta provides numerous routes ranging from relatively simple, to technical and glaciated terrain, on to more challenging mixed routes. Mount Shasta is well-known as a great place to begin Alpine Climbing due to the well-traveled and fairly straightforward routes. 

For these long alpine climbs, rope and other equipment is needed, depending on the weather (not bolted routes). Climbs range in distance, camping may be necessary. It is always important to check the weather and come prepared. 

Climbing season is at it’s height from May to June. The mountain is a major destination and is generally very busy, but does thin out with elevation gains. 

There are also guide services that will take you on overnight trips and expeditions on the mountain. 

Access to Mount Shasta is clearly marked. Various campgrounds, resorts and hotels are available for extended trips. 

**Traditional bolted face climbing means the bolts were placed on lead and/or with hand drills.