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Unraveling the Secrets of the Shasta-Area 'Knot'

July 22, 2001|JOHN McKINNEY

Naturalist David Rains Wallace called this part of Northern California the "Klamath Knot," and with good reason: The Klamath Mountains tie together the Marble Mountains, Trinity Mountains and Siskiyous.

The high point of the "knot" is 9,038-foot Mt. Eddy, which stands above splendid lakes and wildflower-dotted meadows. Atop Mt. Eddy is a lookout, abandoned in 1931, with commanding views of Mt. Shasta, the Trinity Alps and the towns of Mt. Shasta and Weed.

The Pacific Crest Trail and the Sisson-Callahan National Recreation Trail lead to the three Deadfall Lakes. Lower Deadfall Lake is the first you'll encounter. Middle Deadfall Lake is next; it's the largest, with several campsites and decent trout fishing. Upper Deadfall Lake, tucked in the woods, is last; it looks like a swimming pool, and you'll often find visitors taking a dip in its shallow waters.

In 1911 the Forest Service improved an old trail used by trappers and miners to link its headquarters in the town of Sisson (later renamed Mt. Shasta) with the town of Callahan. Today the western half of the trail is interrupted by logging and mining roads, but the eastern half is a beauty. The hike described here starts on the Pacific Crest Trail, then joins the Sisson-Callahan trail on the way past the Deadfall Lakes to the summit of Mt. Eddy.

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Pacific Crest, Sisson-Callahan Trails

Directions to trail head: About three miles north of Weed, take the Edgewood/Gazelle exit off Interstate 5. Turn west (under the freeway), then right on Old Highway 99. After a quarter-mile, turn left onto Stewart Springs Road. Drive 4.5 miles to Forest Road 17 (Parks Creek Road) and proceed nine miles to the signed Pacific Crest trail head.

The hike: Pacific Crest Trail begins its fairly flat passage among Jeffrey pine and fir before serving up views of the Trinity Alps to the west and meadows cut by Deadfall Creek below. Red columbine, yellow lupine and corn lily splash seasonal color along the path.

About 2.25 miles out, not long after Mt. Eddy comes into sight, you'll reach a junction. Go right and you'll soon reach the shore of Lower Deadfall Lake.

Retrace your steps to the trail junction, and this time head right (southeast) on the Sisson-Callahan trail. Middle Deadfall Lake will be to your right.

Past a marshy area and three alpine ponds lies Upper Deadfall Lake, 3.3 miles into your hike. From here the path skirts a bowl, then hits steep switchbacks lined with stubby foxtail pines on the way to Mt. Eddy's summit ridge. To reach the summit, go left and ascend 0.7 mile over a steep slope covered with rock fragments--an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. Excellent vistas of the Castle Crags and Mt. Shasta reward hikers for the grueling climb.

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For more of John McKinney's tips, visit http://www.thetrailmaster.com.

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