Distance: 2.8 miles roundtrip. Duration: 2 hours. Elevation gain: 600 m (2,000 ft). Beautifully scenic. Parking and access are free. Camping is free, no reservations.

Mount Shasta is an incredible mountain in Northern California that offers a great variety of activities. The Gray Butte trail is one of the more beautiful trails in the area, and it's not too long (2.8mi, ~2h). We arrived at Shasta by late afternoon, so it was a great hike to do when golden hour hit, before we set up camp.

The trail starts just past Panther Meadows Campground. If you follow the short trails through the campground, it will take you through Panther Meadows and over a creek. From the meadow, you will travel through a sea of Shasta red firs, through a hemlock grove and up the mountainside. Eventually the hemlock gives way to a scree-top, termed Artist's Point, which gives a stunning view of Shasta's peak and the northern California wilderness.

It is a pretty easy hike (although the air is a bit thinner). It finishes around 8,119m and is beyond beautiful. Golden hour was stunning, so if possible, I highly recommend checking it out. Bring a camera!

If you plan on camping and doing photography, Bunny Flat has a meadow across the road that has a great clearing to take photos of the Shasta Peak at night. Panther Meadow Campgrounds has a good meadow beside it too (Panther Meadow) also with a great view of the Peak.

Sand Flat and Bunny Flat offer dispersed camping areas. Panther Meadows has 10 camp locations and fills up quickly, so get there fast if you want to camp there.

Other notes:

  • A wilderness permit is required for day hiking AND camping. You can get a wilderness permit at Bunny Flat (there is a little building/station there, you can't miss it). You will have to pass the Sand Flat and Bunny Flat campgrounds to get to the trailhead at Panther Meadows Campground. Pick one up on the way.
  • All waste must be packed-out, including human waste. You can get human waste bags at the Bunny Flat station. There is also a restroom at the Bunny Flat station, but that's the only one we came across on the mountain.
  • If you plan on doing other hikes at Shasta, a $30 summit permit is required if you go over 10,000ft. You can get this permit at the Bunny Flat station as well.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Camera!!
  • Even at a high altitude, shorts are good to hike in for the summer. It cools off at sunset though, so be prepared.

If camping:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Bear Canister of some description
  • Tools for night photography: shutter release (for star trails), flashlight (light painting)
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Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Bathrooms
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic

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