Mount Shasta rises majestically above the Brewer Creek Trail.
Most hikers on Mount Shasta visit the mountain via one of the trails the begin on Everitt Memorial Highway. The paved road, beginning right near downtown Mount Shasta City is the quick, easy way up to high elevation. It is a convenient and scenic way to get to some of the best trails on the mountain. Of the 10 trails that traverse the flanks of the volcano, 6 of them begin on this road. The remaining four are reached by way of dirt roads on the north and east side of Mount Shasta. The trail to Whitney Falls is the lone trail into the wilderness from the north. The remaining three trails all approach Mount Shasta from the long network of roads the pass beneath Mount Shasta’s east side. These trails are all remote, exceptionally scenic, and offer a wild experience on Mount Shasta, far from the regions where most hikers congregate. Further adding to the sense of remoteness, these trails are reached by dirt roads that, at times, can be pretty rough. Yet the rewards for making the journey out to these trails on the lonely east side is great. Here hikers enjoy awesome views of the largest glaciers in California and sweeping vistas of both the surrounding terrain and Mount Shasta itself. For those looking for solitude in a spectacular setting, these trails are not to be missed.
The northernmost of the three trails accessed from the east side, the North Gate Trail begins in a forest right on the edge of the Mount Shasta Wilderness. The path climbs up the mountain beneath forest canopy before finally traversing a ridge and breaking out above the treeline. From there, numerous options exist for some exploratory adventure. Hikers can follow use trails up the side of Mount Shasta near the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge. Is it possible to climb quite high along this route, following routes used by those headed to the summit. Another option is to head west crosscountry to Bolam Creek canyon and a chance to spot elusive Coquette Falls. For a simple day hike, a great option is to make the short scramble up to Point 8,852, the summit of one of the volcanic plugs that are found on the north side of the peak. From here there are expansive views that reach into Oregon while Mount Shasta itself looms high overhead.
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The most remote trail on Mount Shasta, the Brewer Creek Trail yields staggering glacier views, vistas of the mighty cone of Mount Shasta soaring high overhead and delicate ribbons of meadow clinging to the fragile banks of clear-running Brewer Creek. It is a lonely path but one packed with awesome scenery and the potential for on the most best off-trail hikes that leads to one of the most majestic vistas of Mount Shasta. The trail begins in a stunted forest just below treeline. The path zigzags through the short, windswept trees before leveling off and heading south along the flank of the mountain. The massive Hotlum (California’s largest glacier) and Wintun Glaciers hug the steep slopes of the mountain and make for a tremendous sight as the trail passes through sparse, volcanic terrain. In short order the path reaches the banks of Brewer Creek. Here there a delicate strips of grass along the rocky fringe of the creek. This spot has one of the best views of the mountain. The sound of the small creek dancing beneath such a magnificent peak is magical. From here a crosscountry scramble leads through barren volacnic terrain to the edge of Ash Creek Canyon. Here there is a phenomenal vista of gorgeous Ash Creek Falls plunging over a cliff while Mount Shasta looms in the distance. It is an unforgettable scene.
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The southernmost of the three trails on the east side of Mount Shasta, the Clear Creek Trail is also the closest to civilization. This is relative, of course and it still see far less traffic than the trails on Everitt Memorial Highway. This path also leads to the only non-technical route to the summit of Mount Shasta. Most of those who hike the trail are headed up the mountain. For hikers who make this journey, views of stupendous Mud Creek Canyon await, as well as a beautiful basin that unfolds beneath a series of gigantic volcanic spires and a pair of cluster of small glaciers. The trail ends at the serene Clear Creek Springs, where there are lush meadows. The trail initially climbs through old growth red fir forest but eventually begins a steady ascent along the east rim of Mud Creek Canyon. There are a few incredible views of the mountain high above the great chasm. Awesome Mud Creek Falls is also a highlight of this area. Eventually the trail climbs above the treeline and enters the vast bowl that lies beneath the Mud Creek, Konwakiton and Watkins Glaciers. Shastarama Point, Thumb Rock and Misery Hill all line the very dramatic horizon. At the meadow, a series of springs erupt from the ground. Where the water flows, there is a thread of lush, green life amidst the starkly barren, yet beautiful, volacnic basin.
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