I’m convinced that most of Mt. Shasta’s trails aren’t trails at all, but rather routes that more or less might take you to someplace that might be exciting to be. Maybe it was just the directions I had, but they’d talk about landmarks definitely, and I’d miss the landmarks all together, because they looked just like the rest of the landscape. But then again, I think the directions did the best they could considering the situation.
At any rate, our trek along the Brewer Creek Trail ended us up someplace I don’t think the author ever intended, yet was so strikingly awe-inspiring I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do it (assuming they had a spirit of adventure, were in good condition, and had a good GPS or map to get them back to the parking area if they got lost). Think Shasta’s peak soaring high above rugged rock-filled valleys, ridges, and buttes; wildflowers in season; views over lower mountains even to Mt. Lassen (if it’s clear – it wasn’t when I visited); artistically stunted trees; and long stretches of nothing but rocks to get in the way of the views.
Really, it’s a View Junkie’s Paradise.
The trail begins from the small parking area for Brewer Creek – be sure to fill out the free wilderness permit at the signboard. The trail heads uphill a little steeply at first, but soon begins a more moderate climb. Enter the Mt. Shasta Wilderness at 0.1 miles, and continue switchbacking upward along the dusty trail through the pines (no views here!) About a mile from the trailhead, the trees begin to thin a bit for peek-a-boo views of Mt. Shasta’s cone.
At 1.75 miles, come out of the trees and cross Brewer Creek. Or, as it was in August, cross the rocky gully that must sometimes have water in it and is known on my GPS as “Intermittent Stream”. Follow the trail across the meadow.
From here, there are two routes to Butte 9000. I’ll take you up the social trail this week, and next week we can come down via an old jeep road. Both have great views but different flavors, so they make a great loop.
For now, follow the trail as it turns to the right to begin ascending the slopes of the mountain. For the next mile, you’ll be climbing a steep trail through thinning trees and ever-more-glorious views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding mountains and hills. The trail becomes more vague as it climbs, but still should be followable, at least for the first 0.75 miles when it enters confirmed scree slopes – still, the going isn’t too difficult.
All this time, you’ve been walking along with a valley and large, dark ridge to your left. By this point you should be able to pick out the butte on the ridgeline, to your left. This is your destination. About 1.1 miles beyond Brewer Creek, turn left, off the trail, to come to the crest of the valley that separates you from the ridge.
There are two general routes to ascend Butte 9000 from here. Most of my group members crossed the gully and went up the snowfield on the other side to come up just below the butte, then circled around to its southeastern side to scramble up to the top of the butte. I helped a few members up, so I can say that this works.
However, I headed up the side of the gully for a short distance, then descended and crossed it, scrambling up the snowfield on the other side to arrive just west (above) Butte 9000. From here, it was a simple matter of walking down the ridge to the top of the butte. My route was certainly more steep, but I think it was also easier in the long run (just be careful on the snow whichever route you take).
Officially, this butte isn’t named and is just a little line on the map. So I’ve taken the liberty of calling it Butte 9000 because, well, I have to call it something, and it’s a lot more impressive to tell your coworkers that you hiked to Butte 9000 over the weekend than that you walked up the side of Mount Shasta to an unnamed ridge, right? (The 9000 bit is based on its elevation – it’s very near the 9,000ft. line on topo maps.)
The view from here is awe-striking: Mt. Shasta’s cone, the valleys around you, the forested hills down below. Mt. Lassen should be visible to the southeast, but it was hazy enough I couldn’t see it.
We ate lunch, then decided to take a slightly different route back. But I think that’s the topic for another post… because if I thought our outward journey was striking, it pales a bit in comparison to the views from our route down…
Round Trip Trail Distance: About 7.0 miles if you do the loop; it might be slightly (0.8 miles) shorter to return the way you came.
Lowest Elevation: 7,275ft. (trailhead)
Highest Elevation: 8,998ft. (Butte 9000)
Net Elevation Change: 1,723ft.
Facilities: Restrooms at the trailhead
Fees: None (unless you plan on going above 10,000ft., at which point you’ll need to fill out and pay for a $25 per person summit pass)
Trail Notes: There is a lot of off-trail hiking on this route – be prepared! (And there aren’t any reliable water sources, so bring plenty of water – it gets pretty warm even this high in the summer!)
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Key GPS Coordinates for the Brewer Creek Trail & Butte 9000
Parking: 41.43506N / -122.13295W (41° 26′ 6.216″ / -122° 7′ 58.6194″) (7,269ft.)
Trail Beginning: 41.43507N / -122.13314W (41° 26′ 6.252″ / -122° 7′ 59.3034″) (7,275ft.) (0.0; ended 7.75)
Enter Mt. Shasta Wilderness: 41.43321N / -122.13321W (41° 25′ 59.556″ / -122° 7′ 59.556″) (7,348ft.) (0.1)
Brewer Creek: 41.42110N / -122.14034W (41° 25′ 15.96″ / -122° 8′ 25.2234″) (7,861ft.) (1.75)
Left Trail to head toward Butte 9000: 41.41877N / -122.15556W (41° 25′ 7.572″ / -122° 9′ 20.0154″) (8,714ft.) (2.8)
Top of Butte 9000: 41.41714N / -122.15715W (41° 25′ 1.704″ / -122° 9′ 25.74″) (8,998ft.) (3.1)
The gpx file for the Brewer Creek Trail / Butte 9000 Loop can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.
Download GPX File size: 214.0 KB Downloaded 23 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to the Brewer Creek Trailhead
From the North (US-97): From the town of Macdoel, take US-97S 23 miles. Turn left onto Forest Route 19 / Deer Mountain Road / Forest Route 42N12 and drive 15.7 miles. There are signs for Brewer Creek; keep following the signs for this or the signs to stay on Forest Route 19. Turn left for 0.4 miles, then continue straight for 1.5 miles. After this, you simply want to stay on the best-maintained, most main road. Here’s the more complicated directions: Turn left for 0.1 miles, then turn left for 2.9 miles; turn right for 1.1 miles, turn right for 1.9 miles, and you’ll be in the somewhat small parking area for the Brewer Creek Trailhead, with an outhouse and a sign kiosk.
From the North (I-5): Take Exit 766 toward Grenade / Gazelle. After 0.3 miles, turn left onto 99-97 Cutoff. Continue 18.6 miles, then turn left onto US-97 for 4.4 miles. Turn right onto Forest Route 19 / Deer Mountain Road / Forest Route 42N12, and follow the directions above to the trailhead. (Note: if you’d rather, you can take Exit 748 toward Weed / Klamath Falls for 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Chaparral Drive for 0.1 miles; turn right onto US-99 / N Weed Blvd for 0.5 miles. Turn left at the first cross street onto US-97N for 16.4 miles; turn right onto Forest Route 19 / Deer Mountain Road / Forest Route 42N12, and follow the directions above to the trailhead.)
From the South (I-5): Take Exit 736 to merge onto CA-89S toward McCloud. After 13.2 miles, turn left onto Pilgrim Creek Road and drive 5.3 miles. Continue onto Forest Route 13 for 2.0 miles, then turn left onto Forest Route 19 for 9.5 miles. Turn left, following the signs for Brewer Creek. From here you’ll want to more or less follow the most used, most main-looking road, but the specific directions are this: After 1.9 miles, continue straight for 0.2 miles, then straight for 0.8 miles; turn left for 1.1 miles, then turn right for 1.9 miles to the trailhead.
From the South (Lassen National Park): Take CA-44E / CA-89N 78 miles. Turn right onto Pilgrim Creek Road, and follow the directions (above – From the South (I-5)) to the Brewer Creek Trailhead.
The dirt roads should be passable to most vehicles in the summer; however, in the spring, 4×4 may be required. The trailhead is popular with skiers, who tackle the trail even before the road fully thaws.
I highly recommend a GPS to get you through the route to the trailhead – there is a honeycomb of dirt roads out here.
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- 3:13 AM PST on January 24, 2018
- 10:00 PM PST on January 25, 2018
Wed Jan 24
Cloudy with rain and snow in the morning, becoming all snow in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the mid to upper 30s. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precip 100%. Snow accumulating 8 to 12 inches.
Thu Jan 25
Snow likely. Thunder possible. High around 35F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 100%. Snow accumulating 5 to 8 inches.
Fri Jan 26
Cloudy skies early. A few snow showers developing later in the day. High around 35F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 50%.
Sat Jan 27
Light snow during the morning will give way to snow showers during the afternoon. High 37F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 70%. About one inch of snow expected.
Sun Jan 28
Partly cloudy. High around 50F. Winds light and variable.