Trail Development Story

In 2005 the McCloud Railway Company (MCR) petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to abandon their 80 mile rail line between McCloud and Burney.  Save Burney Falls (SBF) proposed the conversion of the nine miles between Burney and the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park to a recreational trail.  When this idea failed, SBF convened a meeting of other organizations interested in converting the entire rail right-of-way to a trail.  That meeting resulted in the formation of the Core Team, a group of organizations determined to develop the trail:  Save Burney Falls, Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership (VLCP), Shasta Land Trust (SLT), McCloud Trail Association, and the McCloud Local First Network (MLFN).  Assisted by the Executive Director of the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, the Core Team drafted a “Trail Feasibility Study” and got to work developing a trail.

The property that is being developed as the Great Shasta Rail Trail (GSRT) is an historic railroad property.  Established in 1897, the railroad was closely affiliated with the McCloud River Lumber Company.  The railroad expanded with the local logging industry, expanding to Bartle in 1905.  The train carried logs and lumber between the woods and the mills, adding a daily passenger trail that connected with wagon routes.  In 1954 the lumber company bought the timber rights in 80,000 acres of the Burney basin, necessitating the development of the Burney branch.

The railroad experienced ups and downs relating to the lumber industry, finally reverting to passenger excursions from 1982 to 1985.  In this period engine no. 25 starred in the movie Stand By Me, a clip of which can be seen at

Jeff Forbis acquired the railroad in 1992, naming it McCloud Railway Company.  He developed the freight traffic, but the realignment of western railroads changed the market and operations east of McCloud ended in 2006.  Permission to abandon the eastern line was granted in October 2006.

On November 23, 2009, SFB, on behalf of the Core Team, petitioned the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for issuance of a “Notice of Interim Trail Use.”  On December 3, 2009 MCR signed an agreement to negotiate a rail banking purchase agreement for the 80 miles of rail line.  On December 28, 2009, STB accepted and granted SBF’s request for a Notice of Interim Trail Use.

The efforts of the Core Team to develop the trail have been supported by grants and donations from a wide variety of people and interests:  Shasta County Public Health supported SFB’s early efforts to promote the trail concept.  The Shasta Regional Community Foundation supported the costs of negotiating the purchase agreement and due diligence activities.  The Rose Foundation Grassroots Fund supported the development of early outreach materials.  

The Core Team acquired an appraisal of the property, a preliminary title report, environmental site assessment (phase 1), and secured grants to cover the costs of closing and other property purchase costs.  A $350,000 grant to purchase the property from the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (California Department of  Transportation Agency) made possible the purchase of the railroad right-of-way, accomplished on June 30, 2015. The Core Team also facilitated the formation of the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association, a non-profit which now owns and manages the trail.