by Sarah Sumita Kosso
“Don’t blink, you won’t want to miss it,” is what I was told upon my anticipation and arrival to McCloud, California. I, coming from a hometown of 67,000, always considered myself to know a small town living best. What did I really know? Inhabitants of McCloud must have thought me crazy to have ever thought this as the town itself has just over 1,000 residents.
In order to reach the McCloud area, located in Siskiyou County, I flew into Redding, California. Redding felt hot, flat, and dusty to me and was thankfully not my final destination. My journey included a winding drive from Redding’s 500 feet in elevation up to around 3300 feet. The trip was breathtaking. As soon as we reached view of Mt. Shasta, passed over Shasta Lake, and wound our way up into the depth of the forest I knew I was someplace special.
McCloud I quickly learned was full of charm. From eating pancakes at the White Mountain Café to souvenir shopping at the McCloud Mercantile Company to kayaking for hours on McCloud Lake, I was treated to the full experience. One of my favorite parts of visiting the town had to be taking in the sight of McCloud River Falls (there’s an Upper, Middle, and Lower!). McCloud was a place where everybody was happy to be as well as content knowing one another. Driving down any street, drivers wave at each other, whether or not they know who is in the passing car. Time and the pace of life was so different up there, I loved it and felt I was truly learning the meaning of a small town. Can you believe it gets better than this? Let me tell you about Mt. Shasta.
The town of Mt. Shasta is about 10 miles from McCloud, a nice drive just over the hill. This town lies at the base of the Mountain Shasta, well known for its stunning glacial fields and striking lenticular clouds, forming around its peak. I easily found some of my favorite restaurants in this town including the Wayside Grill, Casa Ramos, and Seven Suns Coffee Café. Over the 4th of July weekend I attended the Mt. Shasta Street Fair and was exposed to the true nature of the town.
Mt. Shasta, of around 3,350, had the warmest community and was full of kindness. People were the most welcoming and genuine, encouraging me to take in all the surrounding beauty of the area. I explored Mt. Shasta City Park where the Sacramento River Headwaters are located as well as the beauty of Lake Siskiyou. Venturing even further into the wilderness, I enjoyed the serenity of Castle Lake and its neighboring trails. Mt. Shasta was full of adventure, pictures, and lovely drives to other highlights such as the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms and Living Memorial Sculpture Gardens.
I honestly cannot imagine a better place to live in than this. It is the definition of the ideal small town. The air is the clearest, the people the sweetest, and the water the purest. In my opinion, this is where you receive the perfect balance of peace, allure, and adventure. I greatly look forward to my next visit and am excited to share my experience with others.