Length: 10.0 miles round trip
High Point: 9025 feet
Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
Difficulty: moderate to strenuous
When to Hike: early July to mid-October, as snow permits
Controlling Agency: Mount Shasta Ranger Station, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 204 West Alma, Mount Shasta, CA 96067. (530) 926-4511. http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/shastatrinity
Special Features: abundance of many species of wildflowers; a wonderful stand of foxtail pines; deep and clear lakes for swimming, with camping spots; outstanding views of Mount Shasta, the Trinity Divide, the Trinity Alps, and many other mountains in far northern California.
Directions to the Trailhead: On Interstate 5 drive north 3.4 miles beyond the Weed turnoff and take the Edgewood/Gazelle exit. Go under the freeway, turn right at the stop sign, and after 0.3 mile turn left onto Stewart Springs Road. At 4.7 miles turn right onto Forest Road 17, also known as Parks Creek Road. Park at the large trailhead clearing at Parks Creek Pass, 13.7 miles from the freeway exit.
Description and Comments: Note: This description comes from 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California, third edition. Find out more about the book at http://www.northerncaliforniahikingtrails.com and be sure to check out author John Soares’ blog on Northern California hiking trails.
From the trailhead, look for Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) signs leading south and initially paralleling the chip-sealed Parks Creek Road. The PCT (hikers and equestrians only) stays mostly level at the onset and soon provides views of the Trinity Alps from a northeast vantage point. Red fir and white fir mix with Jeffrey pine and ponderosa pine to shade patches of dwarf larkspur and yarrow as you travel to a seasonal creek at 1.1 miles. Another stream gurgles down to scenic Deadfall Meadows at 1.8 miles, where yellow lupine and white-flowered angelica combine with sage for showy trailside color. The wildflower displays keep coming, with corn lily and red columbine surrounding another brook at 2.1 miles.
Western white pine dominates at 2.2 miles as you first sight Mount Eddy’s southwest shoulder, along with the upper meadows where Deadfall Creek meanders. Reach a trail sign mounted on a huge western white pine at 2.6 miles. A right here would quickly lead you to Lower Deadfall Lake, which has a few campsites but loses a lot of water by late summer. Focus your attention on the prettier lakes farther on by going left and continuing uphill on the Sisson–Callahan Trail.
You soon spot Middle Deadfall Lake on the right. Big rocks on the shoreline make great sunbathing and dipping spots, and you’ll also find several campsites. A marsh covered with marigolds empties into Middle Deadfall Lake’s north side. Rejoin the Sisson–Callahan Trail near this colorful marsh, and then wander past a pure stand of western white pine on your way to Mount Eddy.
At 3.1 miles, just before the first of three alpine ponds, foxtail pines appear. Three superb campsites exist at the first pond, which reflects the orange metamorphosed rock of the west flank of Mount Eddy. Reach the meadow above Upper Deadfall Lake at 3.6 miles. A sand-bottomed brook wanders through the meadow, where wild onion, buttercup, and bird’s-foot grow next to a spring. The path ascends to the southwest, allowing numerous views of the Deadfall Lakes and the Trinity Alps in the distance.
At 4.2 miles you reach Deadfall Summit. Go left at a trail fork and climb relentlessly for the next 0.8 mile, gazing at displays of the upper Sacramento River drainage to the east and Castle Crags to the southeast, as well as a mix of shiny metamorphic stones and alpine wildflowers at your feet. An excellent vista of Mount Shasta awaits at Mount Eddy’s summit. In addition to all previously encountered views, you’ll also see Black Butte.
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Mt. Eddy, USGS 7.5′ South China Mtn.
Middle Deadfall Lake. Photo from http://northerncaliforniahikingtrails.com/blog/.