Billys Peak Lookout from the Trinity River
Billys Peak Lookout is a massive granite pyramid, one of the easternmost outliers of the Trinity Alps. Only the craggy, unnamed peaks surrounding Big Bear Lake are further east. Consequently, the peak is one of the most easily viewed summits of the Trinities, prominently visible from Highway 3 in the Trinity River Canyon and from numerous locations throughout the Trinity Divide. However, ease of viewing and proximity to a highway does not translate into frequent ascents of the mountain. On the contrary, Billys Peak Lookout is seldom visited. Adding insult to injury, it is also one of only two peaks in the high, eastern part of the Trinity Alps that has a maintained trail to its summit. In spite of this, the peak sees only a handful of people each year.
The Lookout is one of two peaks, along with Billys Peak proper that makes up the larger Billys Peak Massif. This area is surrounded on all four sides by major creeks and rivers, thus separating it from the rest of the Trinity Alps. On its east side is the Trinity River. To the north is Eagle Creek. The East Fork of Coffee Creek marks its west perimeter and the main channel of Coffee Creek demarcates the southern edge of the massif. The only peaks in near proximity to the Billys Peak Massif are immediately to the north. These are the granite peaks of the Bear Lake area and the red crest of the Scott Mountains (the western portion of which fall within the Trinity Alps Wilderness).
Mount Shasta from Billys Peak Lookout
Towering almost 5,000 feet above the confluence of Coffee Creek and the Trinity River, Billys Peak Lookout has a commanding presence. The uppermost portion of the peak is an exposed block of granitic rock. The lower flanks are covered in dense forests. Though seldom seen, the northern face of the mountain is a striking, 1,500 foot wall of rock. This face looms above the trailless Minnehaha Creek drainage. The only good vantage point from which to appreciate the rugged visage of the mountain is from the opposite side of the drainage on the shoulders of Billys Peak. The only major lakes found on the Billys Peak massif are Stoddard and McDonald Lakes, on the northern flanks of Billys Peak, which also plays host to a couple of smaller unnamed lakes (one of these is unofficially referred to as Upper Stoddard Lake). While not possessing any major bodies of water of its own, Billys Peak Lookout does shelter one small tarn on its massive northern face, about 1,200 feet below the summit.
Billys Peak above the Trinity River, viewed from the north
Although technically unnamed, Billys Peak Lookout is the name that is generally applied to the peak. Billys Peak proper lies only 1.4 miles to the west and at 7,342 feet is only 67 feet higher than the Lookout. However, Billys Peak Lookout is not simply a subordinate peak to Billy Peak. A saddle that drops over 1,000 feet separates the two summits. Due to the prominent position of the peak overlooking the Trinity River Canyon, the Forest Service constructed a lookout on the summit. Confusingly, the trail leading to the lookout was named the Billys Peak Trail, even though it never approaches Billys Peak. Thus, the unnamed peak takes its name from the tower that once stood on it.
The summit views from Billys Peak Lookout are surprisingly disappointing if grand views of the craggy heart of the Trinity Alps are what one is after. While most of the peaks are barely visible, they are somewhat obscured by the Foster Lake Ridge and the Tapie and Ycatapom Peaks area. The views one does have from the summit are the length of the Trinity River nearly from its headwater on Mount Eddy down to Trinity Lake, as well as nearly the full course of Coffee Creek, one of the major watersheds in the Trinity Alps. The Scott Mountains to the north line the horizon and the Trinity Divide dominate the view to the east. In particular, Bonanza King looms high above the Trinity River just opposite the Lookout and Mount Shasta presides majestically over everything in sight.
Billys Peak from Billys Peak Lookout
From Weaverville, travel north on Highway 3 for 42 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 38N34, which is signed for the Billys Peak Trail. Continue up the well conditioned dirt road for 4.5 miles. Park at the obvious wide spot on the road where the road forks. Beyond this point 38N34 degrades quickly. Once having parked, take the road leading up the hill for about 50 feet to where a post marks the beginning of the trail.
From Mount Shasta City, drive north on Interstate 5, through the town of Weed. Exit at the Edgewood/Stewart Springs exit. Turn left and drive under the freeway, then turn right onto Old Stage/ Old 99. Continue north for a couple hundred yards and then turn left onto Stewart Springs Road. After 4 miles, Forest Service Road 17 splits off to the right. Follow this road for 22 miles until it dead ends on Highway 3. Turn left on Highway 3 and continue for 10 miles to the turnoff for Forest Road 38N34.
A detailed description of the route to the summit of Billys Peak Lookout can be found here
Billys Peak Lookout viewed from the Trinity Divide
Although there is dispersed camping at the trailhead, there are no facilities and no water. However, there are three very attractive Forest Service campgrounds scattered around the base of the mountain. The Goldfield campground is four miles up Coffee Creek Road from Highway 3. Eagle Creek is located on the banks of the Trinity River a few miles north off of Highway 3. The best option is the Trinity River Campground, also on the banks of the river, as the name implies. This is located south of where Forest Road 38N34 intersects Highway 3.
Current ConditionsCurrent NOAA / National Weather Service Forecast for Billys Peak Lookout
Looking down the north face of Billys Peak Lookout
Billys Peak Lookout is located in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Normal wilderness rules and ethics apply.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Weaverville Ranger Station
External LinksShasta Trinity National Forest