Rain Shadows, Rare Cranes, and Steam Trains: Shasta Valley Wildlife Area Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"With rugged Mt. Shasta as a backdrop, the broad Shasta Valley stretches across an arid landscape pocked with debris from an ancient landslide. The Little Shasta River meanders through the valley, providing water for family farms, ranches?and a remote state wildlife area that teems with wildlife. Gold was discovered in Yreka in 1851, and the town quickly grew around the diggings and serviced the mines in the mountains to the west. As the mines played out in the 1880s,Yreka became an important stop along the stage and shipping route that would later become I?5. Farmers and ranchers moved into the valley, and in 1889 the Yreka-Western Railroad was built to connect Yreka with the Southern Pacific's West Coast line to the east. The town of Montague was built at the junction of the two railroads. Mt. Shasta dominates the landscape surrounding the Shasta Valley. Many cinder cone?like mounds are the remains of a huge landslide that blanketed the area 360,000 years ago during the formation of Mt. Shasta. To the west, the massive Klamath Mountains create a rain shadow and prevent most of the rain from reaching the valley, which averages only 12 inches of precipitation each year. The dry juniper uplands stand in stark contrast to the lush corridor of bulrushes, cattails, and willows bordering the Little Shasta River where it winds through the valley. Farmers and ranchers tap the river water to irrigate crops and fields, which support people and foraging wildlife alike. A number of small reservoirs located in the wildlife area ensure a year-round water supply, attracting wildlife species that might not otherwise occur in this arid region."