Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mt. Shasta Area Trip - 9/17/10 Day 8 - Gray Butte Hike , Panther Meadows

It was crisp and cold when we woke up. After breakfast I decided to hike Gray Butte while Sarah walked along Panther Creek a short ways.

I set off on the trail through Lower Panther Meadow.

Lower Panther Meadow Looking Toward the Peak

Paintbrush in Lower Panther Meadow

View of Gray Butte from Lower Panther Meadow

After the meadow the trail starts climbing gently though a forested area. A few species of wildflowers still thrived along the trail side. At a saddle there is a junction with the trail to South Gate Meadows (aka Squaw Creek Meadow).

Trail Junction at the Saddle

I veered right up and out of the forest. At this point the trail passes over the saddle and traverses the east side of Gray Butte. The trail is surprisingly soft on the feet despite the landscape consisting largely of talus fields. Red Butte dominates the view to the east.

Red Butte and the South Gate

The trail then enters private property and wraps around the butte. A dirt service road comes into view on the left, as well as Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Gently climbing, the trail leads toward several radio towers and then takes a sharp right toward the peak of Gray Butte. At this point Lake Siskiyou comes into view as well as many other features. Unfortunately the weather was extremely cloudy and blocked most of the views except for those of Mt. Shasta itself.

View of Shasta from near the Peak of Gray Butte

From here on the trail gets a little rocky and loose. A short ways further it skirts a cliffs edge and offers great views of Shasta and even our campsite below.

Our Campsite Over 1/2 mile away as the Crow Flies

In just under an hour I was at the peak of Gray Butte.

View looking South toward Mt. Shasta Ski Park and the Radio Towers

View looking Southwest w/ Lake Siskiyou in the Distance

U.S. Geological Survey at the Peak of Gray Butte

The views were good but not what they could be on a clear day. There were no views of the Crags. The rocky spine leading from the peak down to the junction with South Gate Meadows trail was impressive.

Northern Spine of Gray Butte

I did not stay at the peak long before heading back down.

Once back at camp Sarah was not around so I headed to Upper Panther Meadow to see if she was there.

Trail Leading Through Lower Panther Meadow

Wildflower Display at the Gateway to Upper Panther Meadow

Panther Spring & Upper Panther Meadow

Heading Back to Camp Through Upper Panther Meadow

It turns out that Sarah was walking along Panther Creek below our campsite, but it was still a nice side trip for myself nonetheless.

Once back at camp Sarah was waiting for me. We hung out at camp and ate lunch. There were several gray birds inhabiting the area that were flying curiously close to Sarah and I. I decided I would call them Gray Jays. Later to find out that is their actual name.

Very Curious Gray Jay

After lunch we got in our car and drove further up Everitt Memorial HWY to the upper Old Ski Bowl parking lot. This is as far as any road travels up Mt. Shasta. From here several trails lead off in different directions.

View From Upper Ski Bowl (Green Butte on the Left)

We took in the views for bit before driving to the Lower Ski Bowl where we noticed a giant labyrinth beside the parking lot. This was one of the most intricate labyrinths I’ve ever seen. It took quite a while to walk its entirety.

Giant Labyrinth at Lower Ski Bowl

We then drove back down Everitt Memorial Hwy to a much lower elevation to collect firewood. On the way back we explored Red Fir Flat which offers surprisingly nice dispersed camping. Further up the Hwy we branched off and explored Sand Flat which provides even more dispersed camping. Sarah spotted a sweet downhill mountain bike singletrack crossing the service road. I later found out there is a series of downhill trails that lead down the mountain from here many of them very technical with many jumps. You can find out more about the singletrack trails at

We headed back to camp and started a fire.

The Joy of Camping!

After dinner and drinks we turned in for the night. During the night it rained hard for a couple of hours and the tent seemed to hold up fine. Although Sarah and I both were expecting water to come in at any moment.

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