Castle Dome, a popular trail destination at Castle Crags (left foreground). Mount Shasta can also be seen (distant right).
|Location||Shasta County, California|
|Area||6,500 feet (2,000 m)|
|Governing body||California Department of Parks and Recreation|
Castle Crags is a dramatic and well-known rock formation in Northern California. Elevations range from 2,000 feet (610 m) along the Sacramento River near the base of the crags, to over 6,500 feet (2,000 m) at the summit of the tallest crag.
Although the mountains of Northern California consist largely of rocks of volcanic and sedimentary origin, granite bodies (plutons) intruded many parts of the area during the Jurassic period. Heavy glaciation at this location during the Pleistocene eroded much of the softer surrounding rock leaving the towering crags and spires exposed, from which the Castle Crags pluton derives its name. Exfoliation of huge, convex slabs of granite yielded rounded forms such as the prominent Castle Dome feature of Castle Crags.
Situated along an ancient trade and travel route known as the Siskiyou Trail, Castle Crags has witnessed dramatic events. Strained relationships between 1850s California Gold Rush miners and the local native Indian populations resulted in the 1855 Battle of Castle Crags, in which the poet Joaquin Miller was wounded, and which he later described in an essay of the same name.
Exploitation of the land by lumber and mining operations encouraged concerned citizens in 1933 to acquire much of the land, which would eventually become Castle Crags State Park. However much of the crags themselves are part of the Castle Crags Wilderness Area within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Two native species of plants which are endemic to Castle Crags are:
- Aune, Quintin A., 1970, A Trip to Castle Crags: Mineral Information Service, Vol. 23, pp. 139–144.
- Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. The Battle of Castle Crags. In: Rosenus, Alan. Selected Writings of Joaquin Miller. No place: Urion Press, 1977.
- Forest Service Website
- California State Parks
- Writings of Joaquin Miller, including "The Battle of Castle Crags"
- Museum of the Siskiyou Trail