The grand-dame of Siskiyou, the magnificent Mount Shasta is without a doubt the “unchallenged monarch” of Northern California. At 14,162 feet, it is the second tallest in the state and visible from well over 100 miles away. Many come to marvel at it, while others come to summit. But for the day hiker or “working up to Shasta” adventurer, there are a number of other “baggable” summits in Siskiyou equally worthy of attention. Here are eight sweat-worthy climbs that will challenge you above 8000 feet. How many can you claim?
Shastina – (12,335)
Nearly a mile northwest of Mount Shasta, it’s actually connected to Mount Shasta by a massive saddle of soil and rock, making it something akin to Mount Shasta’s little sister – hence the name “Shastina.” The Shastina summit rises over 12,000 feet, making it actually the third tallest peak in the Cascade Range. Shastina is most commonly climbed via the Cascade Gulch route, and serves as a great practice route for mountaineers looking to later attempt Shasta. For skiiers, Shastina is also said to hold great winter backcountry descents, making it four seasons of fun.
Mount Eddy – (9,025)
The highest point in both the vast Klamath Mountains and its subrange, the Trinity Divide, Mount Eddy’s 9000+’ elevation stands proud in the shadow of Mount Shasta and offers some of the best views of Shasta, and just about every other peak in Siskiyou. Brimming with alpine lakes, gorgeous wildflowers and verdant meadows, Mount Eddy is one of the more colorful mountains in the Mount Shasta area and well worth the day trip.
China Mountain (8,542)
China Mountain is the fourth highest peak in Siskiyou, but also one of its least known – but not for lack of beauty! China Mountain is blessed with sheer cliffs and three lake basins, providing ample hiking and scrambling opportunities for the intrepid traveler. Plus, its obscurity offers about as deep a sense of isolation as you can find in any wilderness anywhere. There’s not much of an established trail, but a 7.5 mile route along the ridgeline affords some epic views of Mount Shasta and the Klamath ranges. Access is found through the PCT trailhead at Parks Creek just north of Weed.
The Whaleback (8,528)
One of the most colorfully named peaks in Siskiyou, Mount Whaleback (casually referred to as “The Whaleback”) gets its moniker from its shape, said to resemble the back of a diving whale. And, as one might imagine trying to summit the back of a diving whale, getting to the top of Siskiyou’s 5th highest peak is no easy feat. To conquer this bulky behemoth and its heavily-wooded summit, prepare to do some scrambling and strenuous stretches. But for the determined hiker, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Mt.Shasta, Shastina, Ash Creek Butte, Mt.Eddy, and Mt. Mcloughlin – plus some Siskiyou backcountry bragging rights.
Ash Creek Butte (8,378)
The eastern flank of Mount Shasta feels remote and isolated which is where you’ll find Ash Creek Butte. Narrow, rugged and pointed, Ash Creek Butte was formed by glaciers and still bears evidence of its geologic marvels in many spots, including Surprise Lake on the impressive north side. The other plus of Ash Creek Butte is that it’s only 3.3 miles to the top, making the lack of a clearly maintained trail less daunting – or perhaps exciting? – to those looking for an awesome daytrip adventure.
Boulder Peak (8,299 ft)
At 8299 feet, Boulder Peak is the highpoint of the rugged Marble Mountain wilderness, one of California’s oldest formally designated wilderness areas that was originally established in 1931, and features some of the most botanically diverse coniferous forests in the world. Boulder Peak and the lesser peaks immediately surrounding it represent the true embodiment of isolation, far from any kind of notable population center and filled with lush alpine meadows, deep subalpine lakes and rich old growth forests. The trip to the peak happens via Big Meadows, and is considered a 7.8 moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Somes Bar, California.
The Goosenest (8,271)
Of all eight 8000 foot summits of Siskiyou County, this summit hike to Goosenest’s peak is the easiest – and a great kick off for the others. It’s mostly bare, dusky summit betrays its volcanic origins, and the Goosenest Mountain takes it’s name from the nest-like shape of its round summit with a deep central crater. That means it’s not a true “peak” but rather a highpoint along the summit ridge. Sitting due north of Mt. Shasta and east of Yreka, The Goosenest feels surprisingly remote, and the Goose Nest Trail is a steep 3.5-mile climb to some of the best views in all of California’s north.
Russian Peak (8,189)
The highest peak in the Russian Wilderness, this beautiful peak is part of the Salmon Mountains – a sub-range of the Klamath Mountains. While small, the Russian wilderness sports incredible biodiversity and a rare grouping of conifers, and hikers will marvel at the glacier-carved lakes and beautiful meadows. Access to this wilderness is found outside of Callahan off Highway 3. The trailhead elevation starts already at 7000 feet so this makes for an excellent day trip.
Come adventure up north and check out some of the Siskiyou Summits!