OverviewButt Mountain is an old remnant of Yana Volcano located about 20 miles south of Lassen Peak in Lassen National Park. Yana Volcano only existed in prehistoric times before Lassen Peak was even a glimmer in the eye of the volcano gods. Todays Butt Mountain is just a remnant of its former self, but you can still see that it was formed by a volcanic process. The volcanic activity shifted from this site many thousands of years ago to the north and formed Lassen Peak. Butt Mountain is located in Lassen National Forest.
Butt Mountain sits near the halfway point on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and is noted in many trail journals that they are half way to Canada from Mexico. Since the PCT passes within a mile of the summit of Butt Mountain, this access is the primary route to finding the summit. Also, since Butt Mountain is so near the PCT, the scenery is special.
Butt Mountain ranks 47th on the California Prominence list with 2,978ft of prominence. This peak is most often climbed by thru-hikers of the PCT and also prominence buffs looking to complete California’s Fifty Finest. The shortest hike to the summit is about 5.5 miles each way from the Carter Creek Trailhead. Allow 4-5 hours for the round trip hike.
Getting ThereThe approach to the Carter Creek Trailhead is via a good gravel road passable by 2WD. 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 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.
There is another access to the PCT off of Hwy 36, but that involves a longer hike. Someone else can give Route and Trip Reports for that route.
Red TapeThere is no Red Tape to hike this trail. No Wilderness Pass is required. If you are going to camp overnight and build a campfire, you better get a permit at the nearest Ranger Station.
Lassen National Forest
Lassen National Forest
2550 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130
TDD (530) 252-6624
When To ClimbSummer and Fall are the best times to climb. Access to the trailhead may be problematic in the late Fall, Winter, and Spring. This is a nice hike under tree cover most of the way and is very pleasant.
CampingCamping in the area is plentiful. Lake Almanor has many fine campgrounds and there are many more located in the Lassen National Forest.
Lassen National Forest Camping Info
Lake Almanor/Chester Chamber of Commerce.
Along the trail there are camp areas near the top of Carter Creek Trail and then along the PCT in a few places. The summit of Butt Mountain has room to bivy also. There are black bears in this area, so take proper precautions.
Mountain ConditionsSevere winter storms can make this hike a miserable experience. I hiked the trails on November 18, 2005 and at least half of the trail was covered with consolidated snow.
Weather Forescast for Chester
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