Tag Archives: California

Black Butte, Horse Camp, and McCloud River Falls

We’d spent five days hiking in the greater Mount Shasta area but it wasn’t until the sixth day that we made it to the mountain that we’d been seeing every day during our hikes. In truth we were holding out hope that the Everitt Memorial Highway might be opened by the end of the week so that we could drive up to the Panther Meadow Trail but that wasn’t in the cards this trip as there was just too much snow still left over from this past winter.

Our plan had always been to do multiple hikes on the day we visited Mt. Shasta and with our other two hikes a go we looked to Hike Mt Shasta for ideas for another trail on the mountain and chose the Horse Camp Trail.

We started our day at the Black Butte Trailhead where we found a caution sign posted by the Forest Service.
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The slide referenced in the notice was said to be a mile and a half up the the 2.6 mile trail so we figured we could at least get most of the hike in and if it didn’t look too dangerous we could do the whole thing.

The trail began in a the forest climbing steadily as it wound around the cinder cone.
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We’d gotten an early start which was nice not only for the views but for the temperature as well since we’d be gaining over 1800′ feet if we made it to the summit.

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As we emerged from the trees we had a front row view of Mt. Shasta over our shoulders.
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While Mt. Eddy lay straight ahead partly covered by the 14,180′ volcanoes shadow.
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It was a little late in the year for many flowers along the trail but there were still a few as well as some other interesting plants.
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After 1.3 miles the trail came to a switchback revealing a small rocky gorge in the butte.
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Mt. Eddy was now behind us as we continued to climb with the summit of Black Butte in the sunlight above.
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Our timing was good as we were in a great spot to watch the Sun rise over Mt. Shasta.
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As neat as that was to see the Sun was soon directly on us and things heated up quickly as we clambered over the rocky trail.
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We were beginning to wonder if the Forest Service had made up the slide because we’d been hiking long enough that we were sure we’d gone further than a mile and half and hadn’t seen anything yet. It turned out that the slide was closer to 2 miles along the trail.
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With a little caution it was passable but it didn’t look like it would take much for it to get a lot worse. After passing the slide we came to a second switch back where the trail began to climb more aggressively toward the summit.
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After a third switchback the trail began a series of shorter switchbacks up to the summit where the foundation remains of an old lookout tower.
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Mt. Shasta’s shadow had been replaced by that of Black Butte, but the 6358′ butte couldn’t reach Mt. Eddy.
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Meanwhile the position of the sun made it nearly impossible to look at Mt. Shasta.
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There was a nice cool breeze at the summit and we lingered there awhile before heading down. After completing that hike we hopped in the car and drove to the Bunny Flat Trailhead which is where the Everitt Memorial Highway was gated closed.
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We had several options from this trailhead including Horse Camp, Green Butte, or a loop visiting both. Given the heat and the fact that we were beginning to run out of gas in our legs we opted for the short (1.6 mile) trail to Horse Camp, the site of the Sierra Club Foundation’s Shasta Alpine Lodge.

After filling out a wilderness permit we set off on the trail heading directly toward the mountain.
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After a short distance we turned left following a pointer for Horse Camp.
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The wide trail passed some patches of wildflowers as it climbed for a mile to a junction with another trail coming from Sand Flat.
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The trail steepened as we entered the Mt. Shasta Wilderness but leveled out some as we arrived at the Shasta Alpine Lodge.
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We sat in the shadow of the lodge for a moment then explored the area a bit.
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Behind the lodge climbers were getting last minute instructions before heading up the summit trail.
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Next to the lodge was a spring and spigot for water.
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We declared victory here deciding to leave any other hiking on the mountain for our next visit. We returned to Bunny Flat and headed for our final stop of the day at the Lower McCloud River Falls picnic area.

For this hike we were using a recently obtained guidebook written by Bubba Suess from Hike Mt. Shasta, “Hiking Northern California A Guide to the Region’s Greatest Hiking Adventures”. The book covers all of Northern California and has some amazing looking hike which we hope to get to at some point.

The picnic area is located off of Highway 89 about 15 miles east of Mount Shasta City. Similar to our visit to Castle Lake we were getting a late start due this being our third hike of the day and we found the parking area packed with people trying to escape the heat. We walked over to a signboard with a map and then set off towards a viewpoint of the Lower Falls.
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A little creative camera work produced a human free photo of the falls.
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We left the crowds at the falls behind and followed the River Trail upstream toward the Middle Falls.
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We passed by Fowlers Camp which was busy with campers as well as a doe searching for edibles.
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At the end of the camp was a pointer for Middle Falls.
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The Middle Falls were quite impressive and although there were a number of people around it wasn’t nearly as busy as the Lower Falls had been.
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From the base of the Middle Falls the trail climbed via switchbacks above the river.
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The next .3 miles were level offering a somewhat obscured view of Mt. Shasta.
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After a total of 2 miles we arrived at the Upper Falls.
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We continued on a short distance to admire the narrow gorge the river passed through above the Upper Falls.
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We returned the way we’d come and drove back to Mount Shasta City having completed 10 hikes in 6 days in California including visiting 4 wilderness areas that we had not previously been to. We’d seen our first rattlesnake, a bear cub and its mom, several deer and lots of other wildlife. We had experienced amazing scenery on all of the hikes and really couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The one negative happened after we’d showered and changed and headed out for an early dinner.

We chose a small Thai restaurant (the food was excellent) and when we were greeted we were informed that they couldn’t serve us any water. It turned out that the city had issued a boil water warning the day before due to some tests of the city’s drinking water that came back positive for E-coli. We’d been drinking the water all week, lots of water. It’s been five days since our last drinks and so far we seem to have escaped unscathed but we could have done without that scare. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Black Butte, Horse Camp, and McCloud River Falls

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Castle Crags Wilderness

More potential thunderstorms were forecast for the fourth day of our stay in Mount Shasta City, but then it looked like the threat would be past so we decided to stick close by and spend a day hiking in the Castle Crags Wilderness.

We had three hikes lined up for the wilderness starting with a climb to the base of Castle Dome. For that hike we started at the Vista Point Trailhead in Castle Crags State Park. There was an $8 day use fee for the park which turned into a bit of a fiasco because we only had a twenty, a five, and a one on us and there was no one manning the booth yet to make change. I had hoped that there would be a debit/credit card option but there wasn’t so we had to drive back to Dunsmire to break the twenty.

After obtaining the day use permit we drove the narrow, winding 2.1 mile road to the Vista Point parking area.

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A short walk on the Vista Point Trail brought us to a viewpoint where Mt. Shasta, Gray Rocks, and of course the Castle Crags were visible.

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For the first time during the week Mt. Shasta was sporting a bit of a lenticular cloud.

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After checking out the view from Vista Point we returned to the parking area and crossed the road to a sign for the Crags and Root Creek Trails.

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The trail passed through a forest with a bit of poison oak here and there.

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We stuck to the Crag Trail when the Root Creek Trail split off to the right and crossed the Pacific Crest Trail after .4 miles.

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Another .4 miles brought us to a junction with the Bob’s Hat Trail.

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A mile later we passed the .2 mile side trail to Indian Springs.

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The forest began to thin not long after we’d passed the Indian Springs Trail and we soon entered the Castle Crags Wilderness.

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From there it didn’t take long to reach the base of the granite spires of the Castle Crags and climb up the rock.

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The views really opened towards the end of the official trail. Castle Dome and Mt. Shasta lined up nicely as we passed the base of rounded spire.

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It was possible to continue beyond the end of the trail sign a bit and explore the area a little more. The rock formations were spectacular, it was hard to process everything we were seeing.

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A viewpoint below Castle Dome provided a nice view of Mt. Shasta as well as a look up the granite tower.

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Although it’s possible to climb Castle Dome, knowing our limitations, neither of us had any intention of attempting to do so. After a long rest in the cool breeze that provided some nice relief after what had been a warm climb up we headed back down. On the way down we noticed that the cloud above Mt. Shasta had morphed.

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After a mile we turned toward Indian Springs to check them out.

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There were quite a few mosquitoes near the springs so we didn’t stick around long before heading back and returning to our car.

The trailhead for our second hike was a mere 3 miles from the park entrance so after exiting the park we turned right on Castle Creek Road and pulled into a large parking area on the right. The goal for this hike was Burstarse Falls which we hoped might still have a little water flowing over it. We followed the hike described here on Hike Mount Shasta.

The trail was marked by a metal post with an arrow for the PCT.

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The Dog Trail, so named because dogs are not allowed on the PCT in the Castle Crag State Park so hikers on that trail must go around the park and rejoin the PCT on the other side, climbed for just over a half mile to the PCT.

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We turned left on the PCT and followed it for approximately 1.7 miles to Burstarse Creek where a hungry tree was devouring a sign for the creek.

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There had been some poison oak along the trail so we kept our eyes open as we turned onto the use trail on the south side of the creek. The creek did have some flowing water but it wasn’t much.

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The use trail was easy enough to follow especially in conjunction with the information from Hike Mt. Shasta. We arrived at the lower falls to find just a trickle of water running down it. We knew that coming this late in the summer would probably mean little to no water but as long as we were in the area it was worth checking out.

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Heather remained at the lower falls while I continued on scrambling above the falls on the right then crossing and recrossing the creek bed before arriving at the upper falls.

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The sight of the basalt amphitheater gave me a decent idea of how nice the falls must be when the water is freely flowing. I settled for a small spray of water cascading over the lip of the rocks.

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I headed back down to the lower falls to rejoin Heather.

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We headed back to the car once again and were soon on our way to the third and final hike of the day.

For our last hike we returned to I-5 and drove north back almost to Mount Shasta City before turning west and heading for Castle Lake.

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It was an unusually late time for us to start a hike (1:30pm) and it was a hot day. When we arrived at Castle Lake at the end of paved Castle Lake Road we found a whole lot of cars. We parked in the first spot we saw and walked past the mass of cars to the trail.

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We bypassed Castle Lake settling for views along the trail which we were following to Heart Lake.

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After a .7 mile climb we found ourselves at a pass above Castle Lake. A confusion of trails appeared to head in every direction.

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Heart Lake lay to our right so we just picked a path and headed in that direction.

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Mt. Shasta emerged from behind a peak to the east over our shoulders as we made our way to Heart Lake.

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After cresting the lip of a glacially carved cirque we spied the lake.

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There is a spectacular view of Mt. Shasta beyond Heart Lake which can be seen here. We did not get this iconic image due to a group of young bikini clad girls taking turns posing for Instagram photos at the edge of the lake in the gap where Mt. Shasta was visible. They were oblivious to everyone else hoping to get an unobstructed picture of the scene.

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We continued on past Heart Lake (and the Instagrammers) planning on following another route recommended by Bubba Suess at Hike Mt. Shasta. His recommendation was to continue west from the lake and follow a ridge up and around to Castle Peak then return down the far side to complete a small loop with some big views. We continued west past a small tarn then headed up hill on a faint but visible use trail.

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An initial steep climb brought us to the top of the ridge where we were rewarded with a great view.

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We still had a ways to go to reach Castle Peak though.

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The route was pretty brushy and at times we weren’t sure if we were following the correct path, but we kept making our way up the ridge.

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When we arrived at the summit of Castle Peak we found one other gentleman who had seen us coming up behind him. The 360 degree view was impressive with the Castle Crags jutting up to the south.

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Further away through the haze we had our best view of the trip of Mt. Lassen.

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To the north the size disparity between Black Butte and Mt. Shasta was striking.

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When it was time to continue on we headed east down the the other side of Castle Peak. Again the brush made it difficult to tell what was in fact supposed to be the trail and we found ourselves just lumbering through whatever route looked easiest.

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I had been attempting to match our GPS track to the one shown on Hike Mt. Shasta but we wound up turning downhill earlier than we should have which caused us to have an unnecessarily steep descent back to the trail to Heart Lake. Once we were back on that trail we turned right and kept right making our way to the trail down to Little Castle Lake.

This trail dropped down from the pass to a meadow with quite a few wildflowers.

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A short distance from the far end of the meadow was Little Castle Lake.

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After visiting this final lake we headed back down to Castle Lake. On the way we passed a group of naked hikers which was not something we had expected to see. They were a friendly group that was on their way up to Heart Lake. It made for an unexpected end to an interesting day in the Castle Crags Wilderness. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Castle Crags Wilderness

Mount Eddy and the Deadfall Lakes

The chance of thunderstorms didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon so we decided to take a chance on our third day of vacation and try Mount Eddy, the highest point in the Klamath Mountains.  We set off early in the morning and drove to the Parks Creek Trailhead located at the Pacific Crest Trail crossing of Forest Road 42N17.

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We headed south on the PCT toward the Deadfall Lakes.

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We could see our goal as we hiked the PCT.

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Further to the south were the snowy Trinity Alps.

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Below were meadows surrounding Deadfall Creek.

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As we neared the Deadfall Lakes Basin we began passing some good wildflower displays.

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A little under 3 miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Deadfall Lakes Trail.

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We turned left heading for Mount Eddy. The weather was looking good and we wanted to get up to the summit before any thunderstorms might develop. As we passed by we made a brief stop at Middle Deadfall Lake before continuing on.

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The trail climbed gradually past a series of meadows where we spotted some California pitcher plants.

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The trail steepened as it climbed toward Upper Deadfall Lake.

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As we crested the rim of this upper portion of the basin we arrived at a small lake with a big view of Mount Eddy.

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Due to the time the sun wasn’t in the best position to appreciate the view but as we passed by the lake it had a nice reflection.

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Just a little further along the trail (and a mile from the junction) we came to Upper Deadfall Lake.

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The trail then climbed .4 miles to a pass where the Mount Eddy Summit Trail forked to the left from the Siskiyou-Callahan Trail.

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A quick glance at the map showed us that we had about a mile and a half left to the 9025′ summit and another 1000′ to climb. Up we went.

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As we climbed the views of the Deadfall Lakes gradually improved.

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The views and the presence of a number of wildflowers helped keep our minds off the climb. So did the numerous golden-mantled ground squirrels scurrying about.

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Rockfringe willowherb

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Mt. Shasta greeted us as we crested the summit of Mount Eddy.

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Looking north we could see that there was definitely some active weather happening but the sky was cloudless above us.

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We explored the broad summit and took a seat overlooking the Deadfall Lakes where we enjoyed a much needed break.

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We eventually pulled ourselves away and headed back down toward the lakes.

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By the time we made it back down to the small lake a few clouds had moved in overhead.

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We stopped at Middle Deadfall Lake and walked along its shore toward Lower Deadfall Lake.

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We followed the outlet creek down to the lower lake.

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The lower lake was lovely so we took another break here. As we ate another snack, Heather spotted a doe grazing along the shore.

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She took a seat under a tree and we wondered how many times we’ve missed deer or other animals, if we hadn’t been watching her we probably would have never seen her sitting there.

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We left the lake and returned to the junction with the PCT and followed it back to our car. Our GPS showed an 11.9 mile trip in all with a little over 2000′ of elevation gain. It had been another exceptional hike in the Klamath Mountains. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Eddy

Paynes Lake – Russian Wilderness

We were watching the weather closely during our stay in Mount Shasta City. Scattered thunderstorms were being forecasted for the first half of the week and we didn’t want to be up on some peak during a lightning storm. We’d also added an extra day at the last minute in hopes that the Everitt Memorial Highway would be opened by the end of our stay so we could make it to Panther Meadows on Mt. Shasta. To fill the extra day we chose the hike to Paynes Lake in the Russian Wilderness based in part on a recent trip report posted on vanmarmot.org. While his hike didn’t take him to Paynes Lake it was in the same area and provided some good information on a side trip we could take from the Pacific Crest Trail down to Taylor Lake.

We started our hike at the Etna Summit Trailhead by taking the Pacific Crest Trail south.

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The PCT passed through a couple of nice meadows with wildflowers and great views in the first 1.7 miles.

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At the 1.7 mile mark we arrived at a 4-way junction where the PCT crossed a on old roadbed now acting as a trail to Ruffey Lake.

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Beyond the junction the trail traversed a sagebrush covered hillside with a good view of the peaks rising from the Russian Wilderness.

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Behind us the Marble Mountains were visible despite a couple of wildfires burning in that wilderness.

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The trail followed a ridge toward a peak where we could see a large snow drift that we appeared to be heading straight for.

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We spotted a group of hikers just finishing their crossing of the snow so we waited for them to finish taking the opportunity to admire Mt. Shasta looming to the east.

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From below the snow we couldn’t tell just how far we were going to travel on it so we decided to use it as an excuse to finally try out our Kahtoola MICROspikes. After putting them on we stepped out on the snow and fell in love. Unfortunately (or not) our need for them was short lived. After just a few steps up we discovered a clear path in the snow covered with debris to assist with traction.

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Off came the spikes and onward we went. The PCT traversed a hillside above Smith Lake passing through a section of granite rocks.

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A total of 3.5 miles from the trailhead we passed Smith Lake and began a fairly substantial descent to a saddle above Taylor Lake. The open rocky hillside was sporting a good variety of blooming flowers.

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We arrived at the saddle .3 miles after passing Smith Lake where we took note of the user path from Vanmarmot’s trip report.

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Our plan was to take the path down to Taylor Lake on our way back using the old roadbed to Ruffey Lake to return to the PCT. For the time being though Paynes Lake was our goal so we continued on the PCT which continued to traverse the hillside below some impressive rock formations.

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We made a 90 degree turn around a ridge end and reentered the trees.

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Shortly after making the turn we entered the Russian Wilderness. One of the things that I try and do is get pictures of wilderness signs from the the wilderness areas we visit. We hadn’t noticed a sign by the time we reached an unnamed creak that we knew to be well within the wilderness boundary.

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We’d keep a watch for a sign on the way back and would also be crossing the wilderness boundary near Taylor Lake giving us another possible location for a sign.

Beyond the creek the PCT rounded another ridge end bringing into view the granite peak above Paynes Lake.

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A total of 2.2 miles from the pass above Taylor Lake we arrived at a signed junction with the Paynes Lake Trail.

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We turned right here and arrived at the lake after a hundred feet.

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After admiring the lake for a few minutes we continued on a path along the north side of the lake. We were hoping to follow this path up to the Albert Lakes. We followed the trail to a meadow where we turned uphill a little too soon.

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We were following what at times looked like a possible trail or several game trails through a boggy, brushy meadow.

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After several consultations with the GPS we managed to find the actual faint trail which was actually on the other side of the meadow. It climbed steeply uphill for about half a mile to a basin above Paynes Lake.

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An amazing display of tiger lilies greeted us to the basin.

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The visible trail ended at Lower Albert Lake.

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In looking at the surrounding terrain the best route to Upper Albert Lake would likely be around the south side of the lower lake but the water level was high enough that crossing the outlet creek didn’t look particularly appealing nor did the climb up to the other lake. If we had been set on completing a loop to Taylor Lake via Big Blue and Hogan Lakes that would have been the way to go, but that was more than we were willing to take on so we returned to Paynes Lake and headed back along the PCT.

When we arrived back at the saddle above Taylor Lake we had a better view of Mt. Shasta than we’d had that morning.

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We headed downhill on the steep user trail which switchbacked past some nice wildflowers.

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We arrived at Taylor Lake without incident and took another short snack break along the shore before hiking to the right around the lake to the Taylor Lake Trailhead.

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My hopes for a Russian Wilderness sign ended when just before we arrived at the Taylor Lake Trailhead we finally spotted a small generic metal sign marking the wilderness boundary.

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From the trailhead parking area we followed a paved road uphill to the right which quickly turned to dirt.

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The road was still open up to a green metal gate where it deteriorated to a wide trail.

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There were a few views and some wildflowers along the 1.2 miles from Taylor Lake to the PCT.

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From there it was just 1.7 miles back to the Etna Summit Trailhead where one of the thru-hikers we’d passed on the trail was in need of a ride into Etna, a hiker friendly town along Highway 3. We offered him a ride and had a nice talk during the 10.2 mile drive to town. He introduced himself as Octane from Oakland, CA. He, like many of the thru-hikers this year, had skipped the Sierras due to snow and was having to do sections out of order.

We dropped Octane off in Etna and returned to Mount Shasta City to check the weather forecast to see where we’d be going next. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Paynes Lake

Kangaroo Lake

We recently spent a week in Mount Shasta City to do some day hiking in Northern California. We drove down on 7/23/17 and on the way stopped at Kangaroo Lake.

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We walked down to the picnic area to eat lunch and look at the lake before walking a short distance back up the entrance road to pick up the Fen Trail.

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The Fen Trail climbed a hillside along a fen which was home to many wildflowers including Darlingtonia California, California pitcher plants.

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In a half mile the trail came to a viewpoint overlooking Kangaroo Lake.

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The trail continued for another .9 miles passing more wildflowers before ending at the Pacific Crest Trail.

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We turned left (south) on the PCT and headed for Bull Lake. The trail here passed through ponderosa pines with wide open views.

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The ground along this stretch was covered with balloon pods.

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We passed several thru-hikers including a couple resting at a damp hillside which housed more pitcher plants.

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Beyond the pitcher plants the trail entered a drier meadow where we noticed a collapsed structure amid the wildflowers.

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As we passed through this area I spotted the final few inches of a rattlesnake slowly leaving the trail and disappearing into a manzanita bush. It was the first we’d seen while hiking and just from the small portion we saw it was a lot bigger than the garter snakes and rubber boas we usually see. We made a wide arc around the bush and continued on, now on high alert.

Just under a mile after turning onto the PCT we stayed left at a fork in the trail which would have taken us down to Robbers Meadow. We did the same in another 1.7 miles when that trail returned to the PCT at a four-way junction at a pass.

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From the pass we could see Bull Lake below and Mt. Shasta on the horizon.

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We stayed on the PCT until we had nearly passed Bull Lake where we struck off downhill on a faint user trail to the lake shore.

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After a relaxing break at the lake it was time to head back. For our return trip we chose to follow a route suggested by Bubba Suess from Hike Mt. Shasta. Our plan was to follow his directions from Bull Lake up and over Cory Peak and back down to the PCT. We returned to the PCT from the lake and when we spotted what appeared to be a fairly open route so we left the PCT and headed uphill.

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The brush soon gave way to a rocky slope which made the cross country route fairly easy, just a bit steep.

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Using the track provided on the website we were able to compare our route shown on our GPS to make sure we were staying on the right track. It’s always interesting to see what is hiding back off the trails. We came to a small green bowl were a doe was grazing.

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She headed uphill on nearly the same route we were on so we saw here a couple more times before our route veered to the right at a saddle to climb up an even higher ridge.

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We arrived at the ridge top just to the SE of a snow melt lake below Cory Peak.

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To the SW the snowy Trinity Alps lined the horizon.

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Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy rose to the east.

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They were all locations we had plans to visit during the week. After catching our breath we followed the ridge along the lake and scrambled up to the top of some rocks which looked from the lake like the summit of Cory Peak. Once on top we could see that the summit of Cory Peak was actually further along a broad ridge.

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We made our way along the ridge to another set of rocks with an old sign protruding from the top.

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Here we found a geologic survey marker and a summit register.

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After another short break we continued west dropping down to a saddle along the ridge where we had a nice view of Rock Fence Lake below to the north.

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We followed the ridge down picking up a mylar balloon along the way. Our route passed a nice bunch of wildflowers and below some melting snow before we bailed off the ridge and hooked back up with the PCT about a quarter mile from the junction with the Fen Trail.

IMG_5044Looking back up at Cory Peak.

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IMG_5054Looking back along the ridge to Cory Peak.

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IMG_5075More of the ridge we descended.

IMG_5081Final stretch down to the PCT.

Once we were back on the PCT we returned to Kangaroo Lake on the Fen Trail and headed for Mount Shasta City. It had been a good start to the vacation and getting to see many of the areas we were going to be visiting was a great motivator. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Kangaroo Lake

Tall Trees & Lady Bird Johnson Groves and Hidden Beach

The day after our most hiccup free hike of our vacation so far the rain arrived. We had picked up a permit for the entry road to the Tall Trees Grove Trailhead. details here

Covered benches at the trailhead allowed us to get our rain gear set while staying out of the rain.
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The trail to the Tall Trees descended 700′ in just under a mile and a half to the grove.
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A mile long loop explored the grove which was home to the tallest know redwood until a 1989 storm removed some of it’s 367.8′ height.
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We took a brief detour on the Redwood Creek Trail to visit Redwood Creek before finishing our counter-clockwise loop.
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We then climbed back up to the car and headed back. Before returning to Highway 101 we stopped along Bald Hill Road at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.
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A 1.4 mile lollipop loop here visits a grove of redwoods dedicated to the wife of President Johnson who was a supporter of creating the Redwoods National Park.
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A footbridge led from the parking lot over Bald Hill Road to the start of the short loop.
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My foot had been holding up pretty well, my two sock system seemed to be working, but now my stomach was starting to give me problems. By the time we had reached our next stop, the Lagoon Creek picnic area, I really wasn’t feeling well.

The picnic area was located along Highway 101, 25.7 miles north of Bald Hills Road (13.5 miles south of Crescent City). We had originally planned on doing this hike before heading home on Friday but when my foot began acting up we changed our plans. We had been planning on starting the Tall Trees hike from the Dolason Prairie Trailhead which didn’t require the free permit but would have been over 15 miles round trip with around 3000′ of elevation gain. When we decided to go the free permit route it shortened that hike to 4 miles and 700′ of elevation gain freeing us up to add in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and to move Hidden Beach up a day.

The hike to Hidden Beach was only 2.4 miles but the California Coastal Trail provided an opportunity to extend the hike to a Klamath River Overlook for a total of approximately 8 miles. Between my foot issues and now not feeling well we decided that we’d only be doing the 2.4 mile option this trip.

The trail began at a signboard at the northern end of the picnic area.
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After crossing a footbridge over the lagoon’s outlet creek a short walk brought us to the start of the Yurok Loop.
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We took the right hand fork which brought us through windswept meadows overlooking the ocean. The rain had ended and now the clouds were breaking up revealing pockets of blue sky.
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The meadows were home to several wildflowers and some ripe salmonberries.
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We stayed right on the Coastal Trail when it split from the Yurok Trail following it approximately a half mile to a sign for Hidden Beach.
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The short spur trail led down to the secluded little beach with a view north to False Klamath Rock.
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We didn’t stay long on the beach as I was not feeling well at all so we headed back to the Yurok Loop which we completed by following the trail on the back side of a small hill.
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It was too bad that we weren’t able to explore more of the Coastal Trail to the south as the weather was so much better and the meadows along that stretch were really nice. I just wanted to get back to the room and rest though. We were heading home the next day and just had a 3 mile hike at the Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside planned on the way. Happy Trails!

Flicker: Tall Trees & Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Hidden Beach

Fern Canyon – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

My left foot was still pretty tender in the morning but we had more hikes planned so we came up with a plan for Heather to bring an extra pair of shoes in case I needed to try and use hers again. I was using my newer pair and hers were just small enough that using them on a longer hike would probably cause other issues.

As we were driving south of Crescent City to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park I came up with another idea, wearing two socks on that foot. I pulled a sock from the extra pair I carry and slipped it on. When I put my shoe back on it did seem to have helped.

We parked at the visitors center which was across from a meadow where a few elk were lounging in the distance.
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Unfortunately one of the big differences between having to use our phones and the camera I lost, was the ability to zoom so the elk are just some dark dots up and to the right of the sign.
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Our plan here was to do a loop by taking the James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon then hiking along the beach to the Beach Campground and returning via the Miners Ridge Trail which would be right around 13 miles.
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We followed pointers for the James Irvine Trail crossing Prairie Creek on a scenic footbridge.
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It was great to be back amid the redwoods again. Walking through the giant trees is simply awe inspiring.
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We kept right on the James Irvine Trail when the Miners Ridge Trail split off to the left.
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We stuck to the James Irvine Trail for approximately four and a half more miles as it descended through the lush green forest. Occasionally wildflowers made appearances along the way.
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We turned left at a sign for Fern Canyon.
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A short descent ending with a few stairs brought us to Home Creek.
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From the canyon floor it was roughly a half mile to the mouth of the canyon. During summer months planks are installed for the necessary creek crossings but they weren’t set up yet so we forded the creek a few times as we made our way through the 50 to 80 foot deep canyon lined with 5 different types of ferns.
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We met a couple at the entrance to the canyon who had just finished an out and back exploration. They informed us that Davison Road, which is the road to the parking lot near Fern Canyon, was closed at the Beach Campground and they were walking back via the beach. That had been our plan too so it didn’t affect us, but it helped explain the lack of hikers in the canyon.

We followed a path from the empty parking lot to the beach through an excellent display of lupine.
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After crossing Home Creek on a log we arrived at the ocean and turned south heading for the Beach Campground which was about a mile and a half away.
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The lack of zooming capabilities on our phones came into play twice as we walked along the beach. First when we spotted some elk in a gap in the trees.
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And again when we were trying to identify a shorebird.
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We took advantage of an empty site at the Beach Campground and Heather changed our of her wet shoes and put on the dry pair she had brought just in case I had needed them. We then located Davison Road and followed it back north a short distance to a sign for the Miners Ridge Trail.
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This trail began as an old roadbed but eventually returned to the mighty redwoods.
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It was 2 miles back to where we had split off on the James Irvine Trail earlier in the day and another 2.2 miles back to the Visitors Center. My foot had held up despite there still being some lingering irritation which was a win and the rest of the day had probably been the smoothest of the vacation so far. Things seemed to be looking up. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fern Canyon