"A buddy of mine begged me not to include this hike in this guide. “Awwww, let’s just keep it for ourselves,” he said. “And the dogs.” Sorry, but this is one great hike, a chance to see the Sacramento Arm of Lake Shasta up close and personal, all the while giving the hounds a chance to run off all that pent-up intensity. There’s even the chance to explore Waters Gulch Creek, a slight waterway that loses its intensity during the summer, but comes crashing back in the winter. Here is where the lake takes a slight departure from the surrounding forest. The hike goes through a black oak forest, which is California’s most colorful oak. In spring and early summer, its leaves are as green as the waters of Lake Shasta; in the fall, whole hillsides turn a mix of orange and yellow. And thanks to my guide-writing friend, Marc Soares, I now know to look for the recently discovered Shasta snow wreath, which is a shrub in the rose family."