Road Trip to the Strawberry Valley Inn in Mt. Shasta
Story and Photos
By Dave Bartle
When you go to Mt. Shasta off season, bring all your gear! We pack back- country skis, snowshoes and hiking boots with rain gear so we are prepared for anything. We have always loved the “shoulder” season. The trails are less crowded, nice hotel rooms are always available and the restaurant service is excellent. We head up the Everitt Memorial Highway and just outside of the town of Mt. Shasta we make note of the Gateway Trailhead and its 6.8 mile Tunnel Trail. The road to the Black Butte trailhead is up just a little further. This cinder cone stands alone, highly visible from I-5 and is a must do for visiting hikers. It was created by a plume of lava from an an- cient Mt. Shasta eruption. But on this trip we are on a mission to get some skiing in and when we reach the end of the road at Bunny Flats several miles later we are not disappointed. The snow is thin so we opt for skiing up the highway, which on the other side of a Road Closed sign continues on to Panther Meadows and the old Ski Bowl that was destroyed in 1978 by an avalanche. With wind driven swirling snow in our faces, we wimp out at Panther Meadows and head back down. It is not very steep and we have to work to keep our glide going.
We take a lot of trips around Northern California and we booked ourselves this time into the Strawberry Valley Inn. This will be a true standout from our average hotel experience. The first thing we notice is the rustic rock walls that make up the exterior of this quaint getaway.
The original house built in 1924, serves as the lobby, dining room and private residence for the owners and stands separate from the hotel rooms. Keli and Todd Anthis, the new owners, have added just the right touches to make your stay especially enjoyable.
The grassy front yard invites guests to hang out with a glass of wine in the summer and enjoy the views of Mt. Eddy and the Siskiyou Mountains to the west. But, since this is early spring, it is a little moist out there. Luckily, we have a suite that will allow us to cozy up in front of either of the two flat screen televisions as the rain pitter-patters down. We will really appreciate the suite’s amenities as we take breaks between cross-country skiing on beautiful Mt. Shasta and checking out the eclectic shops that make up the town of Mt. Shasta’s downtown.
Sometimes you get lucky and stay at a place with that perfect vibe that lets you know you will be back. Strawberry Valley Inn is one of those places. Wow, and we had just arrived! At check-in we are invited to a 5 p.m. wine tasting, offered discounts to local restaurants and bars, offered on-site side-by-side massages, and reminded of the continental breakfast served at 8 a.m.. Yay, plenty of time to sleep in!
We open the door to our room and “Oh Yeah”, the room is wonderful. From the inviting king bed, and luxurious built-in desk, to the leather sofa and wing chair, we felt comfortable immediately. After settling in and taking a soothing hot shower, we head for the lobby for wine tasting. We are met by Rae Anne who welcomes us with a smile and offers us a choice of one of three wines to taste. We let her choose and are not disappointed. We are joined by another couple who live in Santa Ynez and we chat about our travels and how great the atmosphere is here. Rae Anne entertains us with some local history and stories of hunting for mushrooms in the forests that surround the area.
Now it’s time for dinner and we take a short three minute walk to The Piemont. Established in the 1940’s, this family owned and operated restaurant serves Italian family-style dinners. It’s a classic with the perfect horseshoe shaped bar in a dark setting and a noisy dining room filled with large families enjoying the food and each other’s company. I look to the back corner table expecting to see Ray Liotta quietly working on his linguini in clam sauce but alas, he is not there. The bartender, Joel, pours a perfect to the brim of your glass, cocktail, wine or beer without a single dribble!
He lays a straw across the top and it is really amazing how precise he is. He is exactly what you expect of a resort-town bartender. Upbeat and fun, he tends bar at night and during ski season he is on the ski patrol at the ski park. Days are spent studying nursing. Hopefully it is snowing at the park this evening and we will get some much needed snow. The owner, Troy, starts us off with a plate of handmade, fried ravioli appetizers. The rest of the dinner is excellent, spaghetti and meatballs for me and pesto tortellini for Tina. With soup, salad and bread all served with our meal, we are stuffed, but still found room for the tasty raspberry sherbet for dessert.
We make the short walk back to the room and grab Rufus the Border Collie out of the car and walk down the now quiet main drag to work off the meal and his never ending energy. (Pets are not allowed to be left unattended in the room.) The Strawberry Valley Inn is pet friendly and so are the trails in the area – you know who that makes happy. We finish our walk and tuck ourselves !nto the luxurious king size bed. Mmmm…. snuggy time and night-night.
The next morning after our in-room coffee, we head over to breakfast. With a nice fire going in the gas fireplace and Nora Jones silky voice in the background, we feel like we are at home. As we eye the fare laid out for our nice continental breakfast, there is the added surprise of blueberry, blackberry and raspberry Belgian waffles served to us at our table by Rae Anne. Now it is time to head back up the mountain one more time to ski again. As we finish up for the day, we are already planning our next ski trip to Mt. Shasta and the Strawberry Valley Inn.
For more information about Strawberry Valley Inn visit www.strawberryvalleyinn. net or call 530-926-2052.