Best Hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest (CA)

Shasta-Trinity National Forest Overview

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest is the largest National Forest in California, encompassing 2.2 million acres with over 6,278 miles of streams and rivers. It ranges from 1,000 in elevation (Shasta Lake and its general area) to the spectacular Mt. Shasta with its impressive elevation of 14,179 feet. Shasta-Trinity National Forest includes portions of five designated Wilderness Areas: Castle Crags, Chanchellulla, Mount Shasta, Trinity Alps and Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel. The main branch of the Trinity River is a designated Wild and Scenic River which runs through the forest. In addition to the best hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest below, a 154 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail runs in an east – west direction across the forest.

Nearest Metro AreaRedding, CA
Area Size2,210,485 acres
EstablishedApril 26, 1905
Hiking Trails1,538 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest)

Black Butte Trail – 5.3 miles out and back
Black Butte, Photo by Daniel Mayer

Steady uphill climb to the top of Black Butte with commanding views of Mount Shasta. The trail can be dangerous and rocky so watching your footing is a must. Black Butte is a steep, nearly treeless dome of hornblende andesite. It was formed about 10,000 years ago at about the same time as Shastina Crater on Mt. Shasta.

Burney Falls Loop – 1.3 mile loop
Mcarthur-Burney Falls California
McArthur-Burney Falls, Photo by m01229

There is not much here in terms of hiking but if you are visiting Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the surrounding area, these gorgeous 129′ falls are a can’t-miss! Theodore Roosevelt even called them the “8th Wonder of the World”. Burney Falls lay within the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park Campground just to the east of the forest.

Canyon Creek Lake Trail – 17.3 miles out and back
Canyon Creek Lakes
Canyon Creek Lakes, Photo by Jeff P

Popular trail through forest and meadows with waterfalls and lakes. This could be completed in a day but most recommended to complete as a 2-day overnight hike. The way up to the lakes can be grueling but it’s not terribly steep if the distance doesn’t frighten you.

Castle Dome Trail*** – 5.8 miles out and back
Castle Crags
Castle Crags, Photo by Adam Hertz

Can’t-miss hike in the area that climbs up the PCT to the top of Castle Crags with incredible views from the top! There are many different trailheads so mileage will depend on where you start from. The beginning of the trail is on a soft forest trail but once above the treeline, you will be on rocky granite the rest of the way up. This is easily one of the best hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest!

Castle Lake Trail – 2.8 miles out and back
Heart Lake Sunrise
Heart Lake Sunrise, Photo by Jay Huang

Beginning from the Castle Lake Campground, take the trail south along the east side of the lake to the lovely Heart Lake and the a gorgeous overlook of Castle Lake. The trail can be a little difficult to follow but there are beautiful views the entire way.

Four Lakes Loop*** – 17.8 miles out and back
Diamond Lake 08
Diamond Lake, Photo by Tom Hilton

Difficult trail that can be completed as a long day hike or an overnight backpacking trip. There is not much to see for the first 5 miles that climb steadily through the forest until reaching the mountain meadows and from there, the Deer Creek valley.  Once joining Four Lakes Loop from Deer Creek Pass, you can work your way counter-clockwise visiting the four mountain lakes: Summit Lake, Diamond Lake, Luella Lake, and Deer Lake.

Granite Lake Trail – 9.8 miles out and back
A shot of Granite Lake in Trinity National Forest
A shot of Granite Lake, Photo by Ed Carroll

This is a tough hike with a constant incline throughout but it offers phenomenal views. Hikers will climb through the forest of the Trinity Alps Wilderness on the way to Granite Lake.

Grizzly Lake from China Spring*** – 14.0 miles out and back
Grizzly Lake Sunset - Trinity Alps Wilderness
Grizzly Lake Sunset, Photo by Stacy Smith

Incredible but difficult hike that climbs over 4500′ in elevation on its way to the glacier fed Grizzly Lake high in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. There are several excellent campsites along the way to help split this into a 2 day hike if you prefer. The elevation gain, difficulty maintaining the trail, and isolation make this a hike more for experts than families but the payoff is well worth it! Definitely one of the best hikes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest!

McCloud Waterfall Trail – 4.1 miles out and back
McCloud River, California
McCloud River, Photo by Blake Carroll

Short, easy, family-friendly hike along the McCloud River to 3 great waterfalls. The trailhead begins from the Lower Falls which has a great swimming hole (the Middle Falls does as well) and leads to Upper Falls. The trail continues past the Upper Falls along the river for a few more miles if you wish to continue.

Mount Eddy Summit Trail*** – 10.6 miles out and back
View from Mount Eddy
View from Mount Eddy, Photo by John Game

The summit of Mount Eddy provides incredible views of the dominant Mount Shasta to the east as well as the Castle Crags Wilderness to the south. The hike is quite difficult though as you will gain over 2000′ in elevation beginning from the Pacific Crest Trail; along the way you will also pass the Deadfall Lakes.

Stuart Fork Trail – 27.1 miles out and back
Emerald Lake Trinity Alps, Photo by Prindleman

Incredible trek along the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes nestled high in the Trinity Alps mountains. There is a campsite about 12 miles in that hikers can stop at to make this a 2-day out and back.

Featured Image: Mt Shasta, Nearly Naked, Photo by Don Graham

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