The Cement Bluff is a fascinating presence above Bluff Lake.
The final PCT Spotlight focuses on a beautiful section of trail that travels from Parks Creek Pass to the Cement Bluff. This part of the PCT sees significantly fewer day hikers than the other portions featured in this blog series, despite beginning at the popular Parks Creek trailhead. This is probably due to the obscurity of the Cement Bluff and small Bluff Lake, which lies at the foot of the odd formation.
The hike to the Cement Bluff is the first section of the PCT to pass through the Scott Mountains, leaving the Trinity Divide behind at Parks Creek Pass. Though it is about 10 miles round trip from the trailhead to the Cement Bluff and back, it is a remarkably easy trip due to the level grade of the trail. The path makes a sweeping arc around High Camp Basin. This large bowl, along with adjacent Deadfall Basin, is the headwaters of the mighty Trinity River, which flows west for 165 miles to its confluence with the Klamath Mountains. Along the arc of the PCT, the trail passes through mostly open terrain, revealing many excellent views of the remote Scott Mountains. The destination for the hike is the fascinating Cement Bluff formation and small Bluff Lake. The Cement Bluff rises 300 feet over the lake. Its exposed cliff is composed of numerous boulders, both massive and small accreted together. It is a beautiful and unusual site.
This portion of the PCT is great for hikers willing to make the push all the way to the Cement Bluff. The views of High Camp Basin and China Mountain are excellent throughout. There is also a rarely seen but great perspective on Mount Eddy and Deadfall Basin from the top of the Cement Bluff. For hikers willing to do a little off-trail scrambling there is also a really good perspective on Mount Shasta from the ridge above the trail on the east side of High Camp Basin. If there is a real drawback to this hike, it is the lack of a maintained route descending from the PCT down to Bluff Lake. There is an obvious, established path descending down to the lake but it is steep and not a lot of fun climbing back up. Nonetheless, it is worth the effort to get to the small lake. It is beautiful in its own right but the view of the Cement Bluff’s strange cliff is one of the more unique settings in the Mount Shasta area and one not many people get to enjoy.