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Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows

Mount Shasta + Medicine Lake Area, California

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Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows

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  • Gate marking the end of the plowed road at Bunny Flat and the beginning of the route to Panther Meadow.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • The road to Panther Meadow is wide and clear, though you may be sharing it with snowmobiles.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Sign marking the entrance to Panther Meadow campground and trailheads.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Only the top of the trailhead signs are visible. From the Panther Meadow Campground, head northeast into the bottom of Panther Meadow.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Views of Mount Shasta (14,179') dominate much of this hike.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • From the south end of Panther Meadow, turn east and aim for the saddle between these two ridges.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Dropping down on the northeast side of the saddle, continue north aiming to keep Red Butte to your eastern side.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Views over Shasta's southern slope.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • The lunar landscape between Mount Shasta and Red Butte known as The Gate.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • Backcountry opportunities abound.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • View from the top of South Gate Meadows.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • South Gate Meadows parking area looking at Shasta peak.- Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
  • - Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow + South Gate Meadows
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Gorgeous views. Late-season snow coverage. Endless backcountry opportunities. Road to Bunny Flat is plowed throughout the winter.
Cons: 
Possible snowmobile traffic.
Region:
Mount Shasta + Medicine Lake Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,313.00 ft (400.20 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Total Distance: 
6.50 mi (10.46 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,950.00 ft (2,118.36 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Bunny Flat is a great spot to begin a winter adventure for two reasons: first, Mount Shasta and the surrounding area tends to keep snow coverage late into the season; second, the road to Bunny Flat stays plowed through the winter in all but the very worst conditions. Add the fact that there are many different trails and areas to explore and you'll understand Mount Shasta's appeal for everyone from casual cross-country skiers and snowshoers to to those looking for more technical winter climbing and downhill.

The lollipop trek from Bunny Flat to Panther Meadow Campground, from which the loop to the The Gate and Old Ski Bowl/South Gate Meadows* begins, takes one into the backcountry where many other trails and spurs can be added.

This area abounds in use trails during the dry seasons, though during the cold seasons this area remains under deep snow that makes all those trails impossible to follow. Instead, navigating while using prominent peaks and landmarks to determine location becomes the best form of finding your way around. Because any trails are hidden, extra navigational aid would be very helpful here.

To begin, the path follows the main road, Everitt Memorial Highway, past the seasonal closure gate at the end of Bunny Flat, climbing gradually for about 1.75 miles to Panther Creek campground. Leave the road here to navigate in a northeastern direction through the campground to Panther Meadow, which is the splitting-off point of the trails. To the northeast is the saddle between a high ridgeline and Gray Butte; this is where you'll begin tracing several steep ridges north toward the meeting point of the summer trails at the edge of a basin between Red Butte (a prominent volcanic dome of reddish andesite) and Shasta peak known as The Gate. After climbing through forests thick with white fir, the rolling terrain of The Gate is so barren and white with snow that it appears as if one is walking over the surface of the moon. Head west from this point, walking below the slope up toward Shasta's peak until you reach a ridge overlooking the cascading mountains through the upper Sacramento River Valley. From here one can continue west for another drop and climb to come to the top of Old Ski Bowl or drop down into South Gate Meadows following the downhill slope that descends just east of the Old Ski Bowl road until it arrives back at the north end of Panther Meadow.

Dramatic views of both nearby mountain peaks and distant valleys abound throughout this trip. One downside is that you may encounter snowmobile traffic until you head east of the top of South Gate Meadows where the wilderness area begins and snowmobiles, along with other skiers and snowshoers, become few and far between.

From Panther Meadow, retrace your steps down the snow-covered road until you arrive back at Bunny Flat.

*South Gate Meadows was known as Squaw Meadows until a recent rebranding to eliminate the culturally insensitive name.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

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(25 within a 30 mile radius)

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Published in collaboration with Casio Pro Trek

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