Wait, what the heck is "backcountry"?
Good question! Here is the definition (adapted from Wikipedia): Backcountry Skiing, also called off-piste (Europe), is skiing in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas either away from or outside of a ski resort's boundaries. This contrasts with alpineskiing which is typically done on groomed trails benefiting from a skipatrol.
The definition above is for "backcountry skiing," but you can backcountry snowshoe, cross-country ski or backcountry snow-angel for all we care, but the idea is to get into the wilderness and do something in the great outdoors without the comforts of a lodge or the safety of a ski patrol.
1. Rent or bring your own snowshoes or cross country skis and head to Lower or Upper Sand Flat or to Bunny Flat.
These three locations are all parking areas on Everitt Memorial Highway, listed in order as you'll find them as you drive up the road. Pack some food, some water and other winter essentials and head on out. Stay on the established trails. Dogs welcomed.
The Fifth Season in Mt. Shasta rents snow shoes and crosscountry ski equipment and can give you directions and information on current conditions.
2. Hire a Guide and Really Get into Mt. Shasta's Backcountry
Want to have a real Mount Shasta Backcountry experience? You don't need to be an expert skiier, but you do need to have a desire for an adventure and willingness to be blissed out.
Shasta Mountain Guides can set you up. Look at their web-site and then give them a call. Day trips start at $125, so not really too much more than a lift ticket and a couple of beers at the lodge. And you'll feel much better after a day in the backcountry.