Hiking Guide for the Mt. Shasta Area

“…The Shasta region is still a fresh unspoiled wilderness, accessible and available for travelers of every kind and degree.  Would it not then be a fine thing to set it apart like Yellowstone and Yosemite as a National Park for the welfare and benefit of all mankind?…”

John Muir

On a clear day, you can see Mt. Shasta from over 250 miles away. The mountain itself draws travelers from all around the world, both to attempt to stand on top of her impressive 14,180 feet and to explore the incredible surrounding wilderness. There is enough backpacking, hiking, climbing, and any kind of adventure imaginable in Siskiyou county to last a lifetime – it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which to do! So, here’s a list of the fantastic hikes we had the privilege of experiencing + some of the top recommended adventures from our new friends in the area.

Heart Lake Trail from Castle Lake
2.0 miles | 682 ft elevation gain

After a long car ride up to the Mt. Shasta area, we decided a sunset hike would be the perfect cap to this first day so we headed out to Heart Lake! The entire way, the views kept stopping us in our tracks. In the middle of Castle Crags Wilderness, pristine Alpine Lakes and peaks could be seen from around just about every corner. When we made it Heart Lake, we immediately dropped our stuff and silently took in the view of Mt. Shasta and Black Butte reflected over Castle Lake beneath us. Shrouded in clouds, we were unable to see Shasta’s peak, which only heightened the sense of her mystery. Jet boiling chili and munching on some kettle chips, we enjoyed dinner as the clouds above us changed from a light pink to bright orange. After this as our first day, we knew our time in the Mt. Shasta area would be one for the books.

Black Butte Mountain
6.1 miles | 1,991 ft elevation gain

Offering some of the best views of Shasta in the area, Black Butte is a perfect day hike to take in all that Siskiyou County has to display. Mt. Shasta most major period of eruptions was about 9,000 – 10,000 years ago, and the formation of Black Butte is a product of the volcanic ash from these eruptions. Once on the trial, you can tell that the mountain is actually just a pile of large volcanic rocks with a few trees that managed to sprout up. About a half mile into the trail a clear view of Shasta appears, where we were able to identify the exact route that we would be taking to climb up her.

Recommended adventures:

Rock Climbing in Castle Crags

As we took in the view at our base camp of Lake Helen in our climb of Mt. Shasta, we chatted with the wilderness ranger about some of his favorite activities in the area. He pointed out a huge area of grant in the middle of forest as Castle Crags, one of his favorite climbing locations. With long approaches and difficult routes, the rewarding views are not ones to be passed up.

Backpacking to Granite Lake
9.7 miles | 2,057 ft elevation gain

Though this hike could be done in a day, it was strongly recommended to us as a backpacking trip. No permit is needed to stay overnight, as long as your campsite is at least 200 ft from water, a quarter mile from any developed campsite, and of course, LNT principles are followed. There is plenty of sources of fresh water and no shortage of beautiful and private camping spots to be found! This spot is definitely on the list for a future visit to Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Though we were extremely fortunate with beautiful weather conditions that allowed us to summit Mt. Shasta, the journey up that mountain is just one of an endless amount of exploration to be done in this area. In our week here, we were given just a little taste of all that Siskiyou County has to offer – and both of us are already planning for the next time we find ourselves in this beautiful area.

For more on our climb up Mt. Shasta + our time spent in Weed, CA – be on the lookout for future blog and vlog posts!

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2 thoughts on “Hiking Guide for the Mt. Shasta Area

  1. Black Butte is Fun and challenging to do with 4 children in tow!!
    Paul Kommer 😊


    1. we saw a dad there with two little kids – I was totally brought back to that day!


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