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Northern California Newest Recreational Trail Opens

Great Shasta Rail Trail offers recreational activities in pristine forest with open sky and Mount Shasta views

Great Shasta Rail Trail Association

Burney,California (PR MediaRelease) September 18, 2015


Tucked between four story evergreen trees and the smallest ground cover in heavily forested northern California is Great Shasta Rail Trail, the United States newest rail-to-trail.

Punctuated by 14,179 foot Mount Shasta in the north and 10,457 foot Lassen Peak’s century old volcano remnants in the southeast, the trail meanders on a red cinder rail bed offering open sky views during its 80-mile journey between McCloud and Burney.

“The Great Shasta Rail Trail is an amazing ride through sections of the forest that most people have never been able to access. The beauty is unparalleled. Truly pristine,” stated Bob Polkinghorn, Mt. Shasta resident.

Three trail sections, totally nearly 37 miles, open during a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, Sept. 26 in McCloud at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 27 in Burney at 1:00 p.m.  Trail head signs identify open sections of the former McCloud Railway Company rail bed located in Siskiyou and Shasta Counties, Calif.

Two McCloud area sections open on Saturday.  Dedication ceremony begins at the old McCloud Depot site at 4:30 p.m. followed by a reception at the McCloud Mercantile (upstairs), both in downtown McCloud.

Earlier that day, during McCloud’s Bike-tobertfest, mountain and road bicyclists of various levels ride long and short bike routes with Cyclo-cross bike races in the afternoon.

The fun continues downtown with music, booths and no-host beer and wine.  More information is available at:

Paralleling California Highway 89, GSRT northern trail head, Esperanza, is approximately 90-minutes from the California/Oregon border.    A 13-mile open section begins at Esperanza, three miles east of McCloud on Highway 89, to Bartle.  The trail continues 13-miles east from Bartle to remote Hambone.

Burney Depot, site of Sunday’s dedication, is on the town’s eastern edge about five miles from the intersection of California Highways 89 and 299.  The 11-mile section ends at Lake Britton’s “Stand By Me Bridge” made famous in the classic coming of age movie opening scene of the 1986 movie.

Ten-years in development, the recreational trail is for non-motorized, year-round activities such as hiking, walking, bicycling, equestrian, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.

“What an opportunity for the Burney area,” stated Jill Barnett, president, Burney Chamber of Commerce.

“This is the biggest boost to our economy in years.  We are working hard to brand our area as a tourist destination; tourism creates jobs, doesn’t change our footprint.

“This is the result of years of hard work by a group of locals determined to bring something big enough to our area to make a difference in the economic lives of Burney area residents,” Barnett said.

Jim Mullins, executive director/CEO of the Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce said, “A great opportunity for Siskiyou and Shasta Counties to partner and create a multiuse trail to spur the local economy.  The trail will attract thousands of visitors a year.  It will spawn businesses along the trail.”

“What a wonderful thing – that a trail can bring together people and support communities, all the while providing its users with health, beauty, and lifelong memories, stated Pam Gluck, executive director, American Trails, based in Palo Cedro.

“…Trail users, along with their families and friends, will immediately appreciate the beauty that the local people have known and loved for years,” Gluck said.

The century old rail bed, destined to become GSRT, was purchased in June by Shasta Land Trust (SLT) located in Redding.   A California Transportation Commission $350,000 grant funded trail acquisition.

SLT will deed the property to the non-profit Great Shasta Rail Trail Association (GSRTA) to own and manage the trail.  Representatives from Siskiyou and Shasta Counties serve on the GSTRA board of directors.

Siskiyou County directors include Mt. Shasta residents Jerry Harmon and Bob Polkinghorn; and, McCloud resident April Gray.   Shasta County directors are Tina Peluso, Pat Thomason, Dr. Henry Patterson and Bill Campbell.  Elizabeth Norton, Susanville resident and Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership representative and Ben Miles, former Shasta Land Trust executive director, now Kentucky resident, are directors.

“We want to develop a quality recreational facility that provides an invitation for locals to exercise as well as offer an alternative transportation route,” stated Harmon.

GSRT joins the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy network encompassing 22,119 miles of former railroad beds converted to alternate transportation and recreational uses.

“Biking the trail is going to be a great opportunity for cyclists of all ages. I can’t wait for the challenge to bike from Burney to McCloud without the threat of traffic.  And when the Lake Britton trestle is finished, I’ll bike with my family to camp at the lake,” said Dr. Henry Patterson, Burney resident.

The trail’s gentle railroad gradient winds through scenic areas of the Lassen and Shasta Trinity National Forests and large privately managed timber stands.

GSRT is easily viewed where it intersects California Highway 89 and Pacific Crest Trail.  Future plans include connections to nearby McCloud River Falls recreation area and McArthur- Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

As trail infrastructure develops and bridges rebuilt, remote trail sections will open.

“The Board of the McCloud Chamber of Commerce is excited about the possibilities GSRT will bring to our community, in attracting even more outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the beautiful forests and landscapes this area offers,” stated Claudette Silvera, president, McCloud Chamber of Commerce.

A five-year “Trail Concept Plan” guides trail development.  The plan is available on the GSRTA website and local community’s libraries.

Additional grants totaling $300,000 were received from private and government donors for environmental site assessment, property title research, hazard waste clean-up and engineering surveys.

During the acquisition process, volunteers completed initial surveys and property inventories, mapped culvert locations, cleared brush to facilitate engineer inspections and noted additional maintenance needs.

The rail-trail idea began with Save Burney Falls (SBF) representatives Joe Studenicka and Wayne Pauley, who worked toward purchasing the line for a trail between Burney and the state park.

When McCloud Local First Network began working to develop the remaining rail bed as a trail the two organizations become partners.  Additional non-profit partners joined the project including Burney and Fall River Valley Chambers of Commerce, Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership, SLT, McCloud Trail Association; and, Lassen Land and Trails Trust in Susanville.

“Harmon and Gray worked countless hours since idea inception, leading all efforts to create this new trail,” Miles said.

“Harmon mapped every inch of the property. Gray is building the organization into one capable of owning and managing this new public resource,” Miles added.

“Today we celebrate over six years of concerted and collaborative work by a core team of individuals representing these agencies.  Development of the trail is assured,” Gray said.

“The McCloud businesses and community look forward to the many benefits we will receive from the opening of the trail. We would like to express our deep appreciation to the members of the GSRTA for their diligence, hard work and commitment to bringing this new experience to our community,” Silvera said.

For additional information, to volunteer or become a financial supporter contact:, 530-261-0884 or Facebook.

Great Shasta Rail Trail Association will own and manage Great Shasta Rail Trail located in northern California’s Siskiyou and Shasta Counties.

Bill Campbell
Great Shasta Rail Trail Association
Board Member
April Gray
Great Shasta Rail Trail Association
President, Board of Directors
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