To find the trailhead take Hwy 36 east from Red Bluff or Hwy 32 north from Chico. These 2 highways intersect in the middle of nowhere out near Lake Almanor. The road to the summit is off of Hwy 32, 3 miles south of the junction with Hwy 36. If you are coming up Hwy 32 and you reach Hwy 36, you’ve gone too far. Turn around and go back 3 miles.
Road 28N12 is on the east side of Hwy 32 about .25 mile north of Elam Creek Picnic Area which is on Deer Creek. This road isn’t marked very well, but it is marked. Ignore the The approach to the Carter Creek Trailhead is via a good gravel road passable by 2WD. Dead End No Outlets sign and head up the hill on 28N12. Ignore all forks and branches off the main road and continue going uphill for 8.7 miles. At this point 28N12 tees into another road. Turn right. There is a sign that says Carter Meadow ½ mile and Carter Creek Trail 1 mile.
Follow this road for a mile to a trailhead on the right with a sign. There is a small sign at the trailhead, but there is really no parking except along the road. The road continues past the trailhead but it soon ends. The sign says Carter Creek Trail, PCT 1 ½ mile. This trailhead is at about 6,300ft elevation and is not be accessible during the winter.
The route to the summit of Butt Mountain is easy to follow. From the Carter Creek Trailhead, follow the trail directly south up Carter Creek. This is a wide well maintained forested trail that gently gains about 300 ft in 1½ miles. At the top of the trail you intersect the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). This junction is signed and indicates a turn to the left or east will bring you to Butt Mountain in 4.0 miles and then on to Lassen Peak in about 31 miles.
Follow the PCT east as it climbs through more forested areas. It has a few switchbacks as it gains another 1,000 ft in elevation before you reach the ridgeline again. The trail turns more northeast and follows the ridgeline up and down for more than a mile. Eventually, you see Lassen Peak off to the north and you get your first glimpses of Butt Mountain ahead also. Butt Mountain appears brown and has no trees on the summit. It stands out from its surroundings because everything else is forested. Follow the PCT around to another signed junction where the PCT continues to the right and Butt Mountain is 1.0 mile further on the left trail.
Follow the trail to Butt Mountain. Soon you will see the bare summit of Butt Mountain ahead of you, just stay on the trail. When the vegetation ends, the trail disappears in the talus. I followed some large cairns around to the left side of the first talus pile and then continued on towards the summit on the left side of the little ridge heading to the summit. There is some rock hopping here over the talus, but it isn’t too steep. Take the route to the summit that makes you the most comfortable.
Once on the summit, enjoy the magnificent views of Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountain, and Lake Almanor. Return to the trailhead the same way you came. Allow 4 ½ - 5 hrs for this hike plus any time for sightseeing and lunch. Total hike is about 11 miles and has a total elevation gain of about 2,000 ft.
Bear Spray? I saw many bear prints in the snow on the trail as I climbed the trails to the summit. Most bears in this area turn and run when they make human contact. There is no water on the trail, so take enough for a half day hike. Mosquito repellent in the Spring and early Summer may prove useful. Sun Screen, camera, a good hat, a map, and the ten essentials are always recommended.
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