• scotott

Black Butte, California

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Roughly 60 miles south of the California-Oregon border, as the crow flies, is one of the places where U.F.O.s choose to conceal themselves from the humans: Mount Shasta. One great spot to watch the E.T.s hide in plain site is from the summit of Black Butte. Located just outside the town of Mount Shasta , Black Butte trail is a 5.5 mile round-trip, half-day hike offering up a 360 degree view that includes the impressive Mount Shasta. Black Butte is anything but a butte: Black Butte is the result of overlapping cinder cones that were a result of previous Mount Shasta Volcanic activity.

Trailhead parking accommodates 4-6 cars, depending on size and vehicle placement.

Black Butte, Mt. Shasta, Northern California, Ring of Fire
Black Butte Trailhead

Someone placed a homemade ceramic mask, on a post, at the very beginning of the trail. Remember this image, as you will see the same image, on a different medium, later in this trip report. If anyone out there know what this image is supposed to represent (perhaps it represents nothing at all) I’d be curious to know. They’s some odd goin’s on in these parts.

The trail starts off in a well-wooded area with plenty of shade.

For about half the distance up the trail, you will trade shady areas for rock-slide area crossings. For the most part, the earlier rock-slide crossings are not difficult.

Your first full view of Mount Shasta comes about one-third of the way up the trail.

Lots of flowers along the way.

When you reach this sign, you’ll have reached the approximate half-way point. Take a look at the mountain behind the sign: That is not the Black Butte summit. The sign reads, “Rough Rocky Trail Use Caution”. From this point on, you’ll be mostly exposed to whatever the elements are throwing at you the day you take your walk.

The sign above does not lie. After a short time of following a well-laid rock path, you will do some rock hopping for quite a distance. There are a few short breaks from the rocks, but look forward to several hundred yards of talus negotiation.

Adjacent to the rocky trail is this interesting lava rock gully. That’s what I’m calling it, anyway.

Once you put the talus behind you, the trail mostly

out and you will occasionally find relief from the elements as there are a few small pockets of trees. The cinder cones you were once below are now below you: One of which was the false summit from earlier in the hike.

Black Butte Cinder Pano

At the summit, you have this view, and then some.

So, you remember that mystery mask we saw at the trailhead? Here it is, again, as graffiti on rock at the summit. If there is some significance to this mask, and you know what it is, I’d love for you to post what you know.

Wanna go? Starting from the town of Mount Shasta: Head east on Lake Street until it elbows sharply to the left and turns into Everitt Memorial Highway. Travel for just over 2 miles and turn left when you see the small brown sign, on the left-hand side of the roads which reads “Black Butte Tr.” Take the first right-hand turn. Drive about a mile and the road turns sharply to the left. After you’ve taken this curve, you will see Black Butte directly in front of you. In about .3 miles, you’ll come to a fork at which you’ll turn right. Drive 1.2 miles and take a left at the road just after passing beneath the power lines. After that, you have about .5 miles to go before you arrive at the trailhead parking.

Planning to take Fido? This is a dog friendly trail, but be aware there are no water sources for dogs to take advantage of, so be sure to take extra water for the pup. The rocky path is very hard on dogs. The rocks also get very hot, and there is little shade, to allow dogs to cool their paws and their bodies. If hiking during early months, early morning departures are strongly recommended.

I’m going to rate this hike moderate-difficult because of the talus hopping that has to be undertaken. I strongly recommend this hike. Please remember to pack out what you pack in. Happy Trekking!

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