Hike to the Etna Mountain Summit

Rate this Adventure California Etna Mountain Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6 Miles

Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Take in amazing 360° view, including Mt. Shasta on this 6 mile hike. The summit makes for a beautiful spot for sunrises & sunsets. If you hike on a warmer day, cool off with swimming and fishing in Upper Ruffey Lake.

To start off, you're going to want to navigate to the Etna Summit Trailhead (5956 ft). There's a small parking lot off to the side and we did not need any passes for our overnight trip. Since the summit isn't the main destination for many people in this area, you'll want to follow the Pacific Crest Trail southbound toward Upper Ruffey Lake (6885 feet). It's a relatively easy walk with a steady uphill climb for the first 2 miles until you descend very quickly down some switchbacks to the lake.

This was a great spot to take a break for lunch and a quick swim. The water is cold, but it feels so refreshing after walking in the heat. If you follow the trail to the northeastern corner of the lake, you'll see the summit of Etna Mountain directly in front of you - it's a noticeable piece of jutting out from the bushes (7528 feet). There's no trail to the top, so it requires some good navigational skills to make sure you're on course. Most of the climb is bushwhacking, but the final portion requires some intermediate scrambling.

Once you've reached the summit, sit back and enjoy the views. One of my favorite memories was laying on the rocks up there and listening to how quiet it was. It's amazingly breathtaking as well, especially once the sun starts to go down. Mount Shasta towers over the land far off in the distance too and it's the perfect backdrop for all of your photos. The mosquitos were pretty bad throughout the night, but a bug net and insect repellent should do the trick. There's not much room for large groups, but you should have some ease finding a few flat spots to sleep on. Make sure you're up for sunrise, it was one of my all-time favorites! Although it requires a bit of a scramble to reach the summit of Etna Mountain, the views and solitude are well worth it.

Pack List

  • Osprey Aether 85L Pack
  • Marmot Pinnacle 15° Down Bag
  • Exped Synmat UL7 Sleeping Pad
  • Jetboil Sol Ti
  • Katadyn Hiker Pro
  • Asolo Fugitive GTX Boots
  • Bug net + lots of bug spray
  • Camera + Tripod
  • Proper clothing (Warm days, chilly nights + mornings)
  • Bathing Suit
  • Mountain House dinner (Lasagne with Meat Sauce)
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