You are here

Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Aron Bosworth | 04.20.2020

This article has been updated. It was originally published in September 2016. 

Glistening Mount Shasta and it's eponymous quaint base camp of a town are just about as far away from a major West Coast city as you can get while still remaining on the I-5 corridor. That's part of what makes the Mount Shasta area so special; it's far removed, yet accessible. Given its location approximately halfway between San Francisco and Portland, most of Shasta's visitors encounter the area as a quick pit stop in the summer or as a nice view out the car window during a northbound or southbound road trip. Well, we're here to tell you that Mount Shasta should be a destination in its own right. Diverse hiking options, scenic lakes, watefralls, mountaineering routes and ski descents make the Mount Shasta area worthy of  a visit!

Situated less than 50 miles south of the Oregon border and dominating much of the far northern California skyline, 14,179-foot Mount Shasta is the second tallest volcanic peak in the Cascade Range and a stunning stand-alone peak to behold. The mountain encompasses a massive volume with a circumference of slopes that draw in an eclectic mix of climbers, skiers, artists and those with more spiritual inclinations. Reverberating outward from the mountain in all directions is a sea of volcanic buttes, sub-ranges, lakes and rivers that provide a diverse backdrop of outdoor venues and experiences, a backdrop nearly as grand as the mountain itself. 

Suffice it to say Mount Shasta has a lot to offer. Here are 10 reasons we love visiting the Mount Shasta area, reasons we think you'll fall in love with it, too:

  1. Yellow Butte: Providing one of the best views of Mount Shasta's northern slopes, this 3-mile hike is seldom visited yet offers postcard worthy views and spectacular spring wildflowers.
  2. Black Butte: Adjacent to the town of Mount Shasta, Black Butte is a shapely volcanic plug dome lying to the west of the mountain and rising over 2,000 feet from base to summit. Hikers can climb switchbacks leading up the butte's lava-scree laden slopes to incredible views of Mount Shasta, Mount Eddy and surroundings.
  3. McCloud River Three Falls: The spring-fed McCloud River and it's three falls offer one of the most picturesque stretches of riverbank strolling anywhere. The river is accessible year round, but during the summer months Lower, Middle and Upper Falls each offer their own version of a unique swimming hole experience.
  4. Deadfall Lakes + Mount Eddy: Hike or backpack to Deadfall Lakes and on up to the tallest peak in the contiguous U.S. west of Interstate 5. At 9,026 feet, Mount Eddy is the high point on the Trinity Divide, affording one of the best views of the Trinity Alps and Mount Shasta. Views stretch from Lassen Peak to the southern Oregon Cascades.
  5. Heart Lake: This short hike above Castle Lake near Castle Crags gives much more than what it requires to get there: idyllic swimming and views over Castle Lake and Mount Shasta and stunning wildflowers in late spring and summer.
  6. Castle Crags Dome Hike: Rising above the Upper Sacramento River Valley is a seemingly out of place grouping of granite domes and spires one would expect to find at Yosemite known as Castle Crags. Hiking 2,000 feet above the river on the Crags Trail affords access to Castle Dome, which can be summited via a short scramble. More Shasta views await! Castle Crags is also an option for wintertime exploration.
  7. Burstarse Falls Hike: Tucked away behind Castle Crags along the Trinity Divide is a picturesque waterfall that is accessible year round known as Burstarse Falls. This 5-mile round-trip hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail to Lower Burstarse Falls. Take a short and cautious scramble on the east side of the creek to reach main Burstarse Falls.
  8. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: Slightly off the beaten path from Mount Shasta, McArthur-Burney Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls to flow throughout California. Fed from an underground spring, the 129-foot falls so impressed President Theodore Roosevelt that he declared McArthur-Burney Falls the eighth wonder of the world. This is one waterfall not to be missed.
  9. Mount Shasta Climb, Avalanche Gulch:  Ever desired to stand on top of a 14,000-foot peak? Mount Shasta's Avalanche Gulch route may offer the best non-technical bang for your buck. Starting at Bunny Flat on the mountain's southern slopes, the route ascends a broad gully leading to Mount Shasta's summit. Note this is still a physically demanding route requiring ice axes and crampons and gets crowded during peak climbing season (guides available). 
  10. Mount Shasta, Hotlum-Wintun Ridge: Looking to escape the crowds? A more demanding spring route, but one that offers one of the best ski descents on the mountain, is found on Shasta's north side. Upon summiting, ski 4,000 feet of sustained steeps down the Wintun Glacier for a combined 7,000-foot descent back to the car. Note that this is a remote side of the mountain and a demanding route where help is less available than in Avalanche Gulch. This route should only be attempted by experienced climbers and expert backcountry skiers/splitboarders.

Interested in exploring Mount Shasta? Easily find trails, discover adventures, download offline maps and navigate the Mount Shasta area using the onX Backcountry GPS Trail app.


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.