Mount Shasta is an awesome sight from Mount Eddy.
Driving into Mount Shasta City, there is a sign stating that the community is “more than a peak experience”. This is certainly true, but, to transfer that sentiment to a different context, it is also more than a single peak experience. There are many other mountains around Mount Shasta that deserve attention besides the awe-inspiring volcano itself. Some of these peaks are rugged and craggy, some are more rounded and subdued. Most them, whatever their shape and character, have great vistas and are fun climbs. Their accessibility ranges from remote and difficult to easy to climb and get to. However, some of the peaks scattered around Mount Shasta are blessed to have trails leading to the summit, making them perfect for hikers looking to get an elevated perspective. Of course, since the paths lead to summits, they may not prove to be the easiest hikes, though they are generally not too challenging. Whatever your perception of their difficulty, the sight from the top is inarguably awesome and worth the effort to reach them.
One of the high peaks on the Cascade crest north of Mount Shasta, the Goosenest is an old volcano that boasts lava flows and a large crater at the top. The trail to the summit is not long, though it does get a little steep in some places. Though the trail passes through some excellent old growth Shasta red fir, it is also one of the few places to find the very rare Baker Cypress, a tree that only grows in small pockets in a few northern California counties and even more isolated pockets in Jackson and Josephine Counties in Oregon. The trail ascends the rim of the Goosenest’s crater en route to the top, where incredible vistas await. The view is particularly awesome for how it shows Mount Shasta bottling up the southern end of the Shasta Valley.
4. Black Butte
The hike up to Black Butte is one of the classic hikes of the Mount Shasta area. The trail was originally constructed to access a fire lookout that once occupied the summit. While the tower is long gone, the foundation still exists and it is easy to see why this was a good place to watch for fires. The mountain comes to a single pointy summit and there is a 360 degree panorama taking in all the mountains from Lassen Peak to the south to Mount McLoughlin to the north in Oregon. The climb up to the top has a few surprises along the way. The most notable is a canyon found on the peak’s north side. From below, Black Butte appears to be perfectly conical but one of the five eruptive episodes that created the mountain produced this talus-filled gully.
The first thing to note about the climb to the top of Ash Creek Butte is that there is not exactly a normal trail. What there is is some old logging skid trails and then a narrow use-path through open terrain to follow. The route is not hard to figure out and the skid trail and the faint path are more than enough to make the route obvious. That being said, this is an incredible hike to an incredible peak. Loaded with fascinating geology and tons of solitude, the peak is also blessed with one of the most unique perspectives of Mount Shasta. Situated on the great volcanos east side, this is one of the few vantage points where the giant secondary cone of Shastina is completely obscured. Consequently, Mount Shasta appears like a single, solitary cone, more typical of what one normally expects of a giant stratovolcano. It is an unforgettable sight.
2. Castle Peak
Though it seems unimpressive from town, this is one of the peaks prominently visible to the west of Mount Shasta City. On closer examination, Castle Peak is revealed to have rugged cliffs and a collection of excellent lakes tucked into basins around its flanks. Chief among these is superlative Castle Lake, one of the finest mountain lakes in the entire Klamath Mountains. Above that is beautiful Heart Lake, owner of one of the greatest Mount Shasta vistas. Of course, Heart Lake does not have a monopoly on great vantage points, since the summit of Castle Peak is one of the finest in the region. Stretching from the northernmost Sierra Nevada to Southern Oregon, the view is particularly awesome when gazing down on the Castle Crags, the chaotic jumble of peaks, towers and spires rising dramatically out of a descending ridgeline. Of course, Mount Shasta might catch your attention too.
1. Mount Eddy
The fact that Mount Eddy holds the number one spot on this list should come as no surprise. I have made no secret of my high opinion of this trail. It simply has the best combination of the factors that make a great hike. It passes through lush meadows, along rushing creek, through a gorgeous lake basin with numerous bodies of water and backed by dramatic technicolor cliffs and boasts the finest summit vista in the North State. It really is tough to beat. Worth noting is the presence of foxtail pines, a species that is only found around the Klamath Mountains but also hundreds of miles away in the southern reaches of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.