It's hard to miss Black Butte when travelling on I-5 between Redding and the Oregon border. The freeway wraps around the western flank of the 6,325-foot volcanic plug dome. A peak that juts over 2,000 feet above its base would normally dominate the local landscape; however, Black Butte is wedged between the 9,000-foot Mount Eddy and the local fourteener, Mount Shasta. This disparity in elevation should not deter you from climbing Black Butte. The view from the top provides an amazing perspective of the aforementioned neighboring peaks.
Although Black Butte sits right next to the freeway, the trailhead lies on the opposite side, and the trail begins like many forested hikes in the region. After a few hundred steps, this similarity ends and you find yourself on the slope of the plug dome surrounded by large and small boulders of volcanic andesite. Depending on the size of the surrounding rocks, the trail condition ranges from rocky singletrack to a route that requires hopping from one rock to the next. The end of the first broad switchback is home to this trail's largest stand of trees and offers some shade.
The switchbacks get tighter as you approach the top of the peak. Each switchback also presents a new view to marvel at. In addition to Mount Shasta and Mount Eddy, it is interesting to look down onto I-5 and the nearby town of Mount Shasta. The Castle Crags are visible to the south, and peaks in Oregon can be seen to the north on a clear day. At the top of Black Butte, the foundation of an old fire lookout makes a great perch and can offer shelter on a breezy day.