A Guide to Hiking Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta Hiking: Weather Conditions

Depending on the season, Mount Shasta is prone to avalanches.
Depending on the season, Mount Shasta is prone to avalanches.
Barrie Rokeach/Riser/Getty Images

Hike the trails on Mount Shasta, and there's no doubt you'll encounter scenic surroundings and occasionally technical paths. But you'll also be traipsing an active volcano that erupted as recently as 200 years ago. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, there's a one in four chance it will erupt again [source: Sabalow].

The dangers most hikers encounter, however, are the risks of avalanche and weather fluctuations rather than lava flow. Mount Shasta is prone to rock slides, and the areas in which these occur can change from season to season. It's a good idea to check in with a ranger's station for an update before taking to the trails.

Like many mountains, Shasta has a microclimate that creates its own weather patterns. Because of the changes in elevation from the base of the mountain to the tip, temperatures can drop from 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) to the single digits during a single ascent. And because of the way the mountain's vertical surface affects airflow, it's possible to have heavy snow on one side of the mountain and just a few misty sprinkles on the other -- all from the same clouds [source: Groleau].

Although you can hike Mount Shasta year-round, its busiest season is from May through September, which is when the campgrounds are open. If you're summit-bound, it's easiest to reach the summit when the trails are snow-packed but the weather's not too harsh. These optimal conditions usually occur March through mid-July. By the end of summer, hikers will encounter loose rocks rather than snow on the trails, and this can make it slow going.

For lots more information on hiking, see the links below.

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More Great Links


  • American Alpine Journal. "Grades." (May 12, 2012) http://aaj.americanalpineclub.org/extras/grade-comparisons/
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Bigfoot on the Mountain." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/fol/big/index.htm
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Climbing on Mount Shasta: Popular Routes." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/out/cli/routes.htm
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Existing Glaciers." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/env/glacial/exi.htm
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Geologic History of Mount Shasta." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/geo/his.htm
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Harmonic Convergence." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/fol/har/index.htm
  • College of the Siskiyous. "Native American." (May 12, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/fol/nat/index.htm
  • Lewis, Steve. "Climbing Mt. Shasta: Route 1, Avalanche Gulch." PhotograFix Publishing. October 1996 (May 12, 2012)
  • Mount Shasta Avalanche Center. "Climbing Routes." (May 12, 2012) http://shastaavalanche.org/maps/climbing-routes/southwest-side
  • Mount Shasta Trail Association. "Three Waterfalls of the McCloud River Trail." (May 12, 2012) http://mountshastatrailassociation.org/trails/mccloud/mccloud-rivers-three-waterfalls/
  • Mount Shasta Trail Association. "Old Ski Bowl Trail on Mount Shasta to Green Butte." (May 12, 2012) http://mountshastatrailassociation.org/trails/mt-shasta/old-ski-bowl-and-green-butte/
  • Groleau, Rick. "Mountain Weather." (May 12, 2012) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/kilimanjaro/weather.html
  • Rippon, Cy. "Excursion of Yreka's Brass Band to Summit of Mt. Shasta." College of the Siskiyous. 1982. (May 11, 2012) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/lit/des/desc9.htm
  • Sabalow, Ryan. "Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak Ready to Erupt? Counties' Plans Provide no Specifics on Evacuations." Redding. Dec. 17, 2011. (May 12, 2012) http://www.redding.com/news/2011/dec/17/ready-to-erupt-counties-hazard-mitigation-plans/
  • Summit Post. "Mount Shasta." Feb. 27, 2012. (May 11, 2012) http://www.summitpost.org/mount-shasta/150188
  • Trails. "Mount Shasta." (May 11, 2012) http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGS435-001
  • USDA Forest Service. "Before You Go: Mt. Shasta Wilderness Permits and Summit Passes." (May 11, 2012) http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/stnf/home/?cid=stelprdb5353013
  • USDA Forest Service. "Mt. Shasta Wilderness." (May 11, 2012) http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/stnf/recreation/recarea/?recid=6575
  • Wilderness. "Wilderness Acreage Breakdown for The Mt. Shasta Wilderness." (May 11, 2012) http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=acreage&WID=397
  • Young, Samantha. "Glaciers on California's Mt. Shasta Keep Growing." USA Today. July 8, 2008. (May 12, 2012) http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/environment/2008-07-08-mt-shasta-growing-glaciers_N.htm
  • Zanger, Michael. "Virtual Climb of Mount Shasta." College of the Siskiyous. http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/out/cli/intro.htm