Hiking the Seven Summits of Siskiyou County

Siskiyou County has proven to be one of the most beautiful outdoor destinations in the United States. With the mighty Mount Shasta as its centerpiece, Siskiyou is home to vast waterfalls, crystal clear tributaries, pristine lakes and wonderful communities.

With all of its awesome outdoor destinations, Siskiyou’s name to fame might be its mighty peaks.

Home to many mountains in its volcanic area surrounding Shasta, Siskiyou County has seven peaks that tower above 8,000 feet. Although most of them are difficult to summit, it’s worth the time of any enthusiastic hiker to give them a try. Heck, why not even try them all?

Here are the seven summits of Siskiyou County:

Mt. Shasta (14,180 Feet)

Flickr/Rafael Edwards

The mighty Mount Shasta is the most coveted peak in all of Northern California. This grueling adventure up to the 14,000 foot peak made Outside Magazine’s “6 Iconic Hikes” list and has been highlighted by outdoor thought leaders like Colombia’s Directors of Toughness.

The difficulty of summiting this mountain is highly documented. From the lack of oxygen near the top to the dreaded stretch appropriately named Misery Hill, many people who attempt to summit Shasta turn back around before the top. There is also a high amount of injuries reported on this mountain every year. This is not a hike to take lightly.

Read about climbing Mount Shasta

Shastina –  (12,329 Feet)

Flickr/Don Graham

Shastina, also known as Mt. Shasta’s “little sister,” is the highest satellite cone on Mt. Shasta. Although it’s typically bundled together with Shasta (the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Range), Shastina on its own is a beast. Shastina is taller than Mount Adams and would rank as the third highest volcano in the Cascades behind Mount Rainier and Shasta.

Shastina is most commonly climbed via the Cascade Gulch route, which ascends from Hidden Valley diagonally up to the Shasta-Shastina saddle, and then continuing up the eastern flank of Shastina’s cone to its summit. For most mountaineers, it represents only a quick side trip on the way back from the main objective of climbing Shasta.

For ski mountaineers, Shastina represents an attractive objective of its own quite separate from the main peak of Shasta, since it provides several exceptional ski descents including Diller Canyon, the North Face, and the South Face.

Mt. Eddy – (9,025 Feet)

Flickr/Tom Hilton

Dismissing the splendor of the view from Mt. Shasta’s summit takes a serious lack of aesthetic awareness. On the other hand, the vistas available atop Shasta exclude NorCal’s most visually stunning feature – the mountain itself. Luckily, the scene from Mt. Eddy’s peak includes all of our favorite landmarks as well as Mt. Shasta.

On the trail to summit Mt. Eddy, you’ll pass through verdant meadows speckled with colorful wildflowers, the three lakes of the Deadfall Basin, huge cliffs and peaks all around that provide a glance into the distinctiveness of the Trinity Divide. To get the full effect of the scenery, try hiking Eddy between June and mid-November.

China Mountain (8,542 Feet)

View of China Mountain. Photo by Carl Skinner.

Being the fourth tallest summit in the Mt. Shasta region, China Mountain is the meeting point between the Trinity Divide and Scott Mountains. The 7.5-mile hike to the top can give you views of the Trinity Alps, Scott Mountains, Marble Mountains and Mount Shasta.

Located along the Pacific Crest Trail, China Mountain is best reached by departing north from the PCT trailhead at Parks Creek northwest of Mount Shasta. There are no direct trails to the summit, but the PCT will bring you right to the base where you will be able to traverse the slopes of the mountain.

Read a detailed description about the China Mountain hike

The Whaleback (8,528 Feet)

Sitting just north of Mount Shasta is Mount Whaleback, also known as The Whaleback, which is the fifth highest summit in Siskiyou County. Named after its appearance similar to a diving whale, Whaleback was formerly an active volcano.

Summiting the top of Whaleback is no easy task, as there are no maintained trails to the top, but with some sturdy hiking shoes and poles, you can get greta views of Mt.Shasta, Shastina, Ask Creek Butte, Haight Mountain, Mt.Eddy, and Mt. Mcloughlin at the top. Although it’s a rarely accomplished hike, the summit of Whaleback does include entry book, with some little known routes up and down the mountain.

Read about the rare hike to the top of The Whaleback

Ash Creek Butte (8,378 Feet)

Photo: Mount Shasta Avalanche Center

Located on the remote east side of Mount Shasta, Ash Creek Butte is one of the most isolated hikes in the area. Since the summit was formed from glacial activity, the hike is full of rugged terrain and geological marvels.

The long ridge of Ash Creek Butte peaks at a narrow, pointed summit. Like the other remote hikes on this list, the rugged road to the top of Ash Creek Butte does not include a maintained trail, but the 3.3 miles up to the top isn’t too strenuous for the experienced hiker. The unique remoteness and views of Shasta’s east side make this hike one-of-a-kind in Siskiyou County.

Read about the scramble to the top of Ash Creek Butte

The Goosenest (8,280 Feet)

Flickr/Marshal Hedin

Of all the seven highest summits of Siskiyou County, this hike is the easiest. The Goose Nest Trail is a steep 3.5-mile hike up an old volcano to the top of Goosenest Mountain. Sitting due north of Mt. Shasta and east of Yreka, Goosenest is surprisingly remote in lieu of its prominent stature.

While the hike is steep, it is relatively easy for experienced hikers and the scenes surrounding Shasta give it some of the best views in all of NorCal.

Read about the hike up to The Goosenest via the Goosenest Trail

Bonus Training Peaks:

Black Butte (6,334 Feet)

Flickr/jill, jellidonut… whatever

For frequenters of northbound I-5 in NorCal, imposing Black Butte is nearly as iconic as its next-door-neighbor Mt. Shasta. Characterized as a “cluster of overlapping dacite lava domes in a butte”, the feature is more or less a 6,334-foot pile of rock.

From a distance, it may seem that summiting the steeply rising butte requires at least climbing gear if not a death wish. Surprisingly, however, a 2.5-mile moderate trail takes hikers to its apex. Atop Black Butte, hikers can take in stunning views of landmarks in NorCal and Southern Oregon including Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak, Crater Peak, Burney Mountain, Mt. Eddy and many more.

Read about the spectacular views found at the top of Black Butte

Castle Dome (3,788 Feet)

Castle Crags seems to hide in plain sight. Though clearly visible from I-5, the magnificent geological oddity receives less mention than other North State attractions. Maybe people prefer volcanoes to granite spires.

Whatever the reason for Castle Crags’ relative anonymity, the destination certainly deserves a visit. One of the best ways to experience Castle Crags is by hiking up its quintessential route, Castle Dome Trail.

In total length, the trail stretches about 5.5 miles and increases in elevation a couple thousand feet before you hit Castle Dome with some of the best vista views in all of Northern California.

Read about hiking Castle Crags via the Castle Dome Trail

Are you brave enough to try them all?

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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