Haystack is a volcanic feature rising above US Route 97 11 miles northeast of Weed. The peak offers wonderful views of Mount Shasta to the south, the Trinity Mountains to the east, and the Mount Shasta Valley to the north. The trail is an overgrown 4WD trail to the top. Good parking is just off the highway inside a Forest Service gate. One walks about .4 mile before reaching the actual trail that starts the climb up the east flank of Haystack. The short climb takes a moderate effort to reach the top. The trail circles the rather flat, open top. Vegetation is typical high desert scrub with the scattered juniper tree. There is a high point marked with a cairn with asurvey mark underneath and a summit log. The summit log revealed that Haystack is visited every few days by hikers. The distance from the parking area to the high point is about one mile.
Black Butte is a dacite dome volcano that is just north of the city of Mount Shasta, sitting alongside Interstate 5. The summit tops out at 6,358 feet. Having been born in Mount Shasta and lived in Weed for the first five years of my life, and spending time over the years with various relatives still in the area (my parents moved back to area 10 years ago), I have always wanted to climb Black Butte. Frankly, I don’t know what took me so long.
The trailhead is on the east side of the mountain. Driving north out Mount Shasta up the Everett Memorial you come to sign directing you west to the Black Butte trailhead. It’s a 3.3 mile drive on a decently maintained Forest Service road to the trailhead. I got there about 7:15 am. No one else there. It was 44 degrees outside, with a 10 mph gusts of wind. All in all, not a bad morning to make the hike. The first quarter mile of the hike is in trees, but when you pop out, and look up at the side of the mountain, it’s imposing. The slope is chunks of broken dacite, at a 45 degree angle. Basically you loop around the mountain counterclockwise from east to west side of the mountain, then the trail turns and goes back east until you come to a few little switchbacks near the top. A lot of the trail is scree, but you can move fast. Once you get near the top, it flattens out somewhat. The last 50 feet or so to the summit, where the foundation of the old fire lookout is, is a scramble. It was a bit windy on top, but still breathtaking. Mount Shasta looms to east and Mount Eddy to the west. It was cloudy and cold on top, so I didn’t linger too long. I couldn’t find a summit register, and I didn’t bring anything up to use as one.
DSCN0118 webTrailhead and parking.
DSCN0119 webThe trail starts out amongst tall pines and cedars.
DSCN0121 webAfter about a quarter mile, the trail breaks out of the trees and the scree mountainside is clearly visible.
DSCN0122 webLooking east at Mount Shasta.
DSCN0126 webLooking down at Interstate 5 just south of Weed.
DSCN0127 webLooking east at Mount Eddy
DSCN0128 webAbout half way up you encounter this sign. Duh!
DSCN0132 webBlack Butte is formed by a series of dacite eruptions, which push below the older plugs, breaking through them, and pushing them aside. As you get nearer the top, you are climbing a younger event. The wall of rocks in this photo is the remains of an older eruption.
DSCN0134 webWire mesh screen to hold back a rockfall along the trail.
DSCN0140 webLooking down on lower peaks formed by older eruptive events.
DSCN0141 webThe foundation of the Forest Service fire lookout tower that once stood on the summit.
DSCN0145 webMount Shasta from the top of Black Butte.
DSCN0160 webLooking upslope towards the summit. The slop must approach 50 degrees.