Lying just a couple miles outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park's southwest entrance gate, Christie Hill overlooks a small network of forest roads that go unplowed in the winter months, when they are repurposed for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and called the McGowan Cross Country Ski Area. Though the trails receive no grooming and can often be difficult to find under fresh snow, the route to the top of Christie Hill remains easy enough. There is no marked trail, leaving those hoping to climb it to head up the steep slope to the top by any route that seems feasible.
The Christie Hill route can be divided into two sections. The first is doable by snowshoers of most abilities. After following the main Nanny Creek Trail (Forest Road 29N22) west of the parking area for a quarter mile, a left turn first descends and then begins to head toward the base of Christie Hill. These trails are marked with sporadic blue diamond blazes; however, they soon fade into an array of tracks heading throughout the meadow basin. Snowshoers in this area can choose to follow any of these tracks, or blaze their own backcountry tracks around here.
The second section is for those choosing to head to the top of the hill. The summit is reached by taking the steep slope that climbs nearly 500 feet and that has no trail. Due to the steep ascent here, this is best attempted by those confident in their physical abilities. It's a trudge until you get to the top. But from the peak, views of nearby Brokeoff Mountain as well as Mount Diller and Lassen Peak are visible rising above a blanket of trees.
From the top, head back down the way you came and retrace your route back to the trailhead.
There are no amenities at the trailhead. Water and bathrooms are available inside the park; however, a national park entrance fee is required to access them.
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.