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While Shasta Lake has enough activities to keep you busy for weeks on end, don't overlook the rest of the area. Rugged mountains, historic Gold Rush towns and dozens of other attractions await you, all within a day's outing.

A side trip to Shasta Dam would be a good place to start. Just six miles off I-5 you'll find the second-largest dam in the United States, the keystone in the mighty Central Valley Project. The Visitor's Center explains how the dam helped turn California into the richest agricultural region in the world.

To the north is Mount Shasta, the 14,162 foot monolith that dominates the horizon. Less than an hour's drive from the lake, the snowcapped peak plays hide-and-seek as you wind your way up the Sacramento River Canyon.

Castle Crags State Park, whose granite peaks are often compared to Yosemite's for sheer splendor, offer miles of tree-shaded trails that crisscross the park. Adventurous souls can easily reach the summit; be sure to bring hiking boots and drinking water.

Continuing north is Dunsmuir, a quiet railroad town nestled among forested mountains. It's a great place to beat the heat or take a relaxing walk along the Sacramento River.

Mount Shasta City is a quaint mountain village featuring dozens of shops offering hand-crafted goods, mountain memorabilia, plus a number of good restaurants to satisfy any appetite.

Follow the signs to Mount Shasta Ski Park for hiking and mountain biking, a popular summertime activity; downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Lassen National Park is a spectacular attraction; Just an hour's drive from Redding on Highway 44, Lassen offers towering mountains, lush meadows dotted with pristine lakes and bizarre displays of volcanic activity.

Another favorite is Burney Falls, once called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by Teddy Roosevelt. Not only does the water cascade 129 feet into a beautiful pool below, it also flows directly through the porous rock cliff.