The summit of Cory Peak above a small, unnamed lake
Though not the highest peak in northern California’s Scott Mountains, Cory Peak is probably the most interesting. This distinction is attributed to the numerous lakes, lush meadows, rugged cliffs and far-reaching vistas as well as the unusual fauna growing on the slopes of the mountain. Although nearby China
and South China
Mountains are taller, they lack the craggy visage Cory offers. Moreover, Cory Peak hosts five separate lake basins on its flanks in addition to the attractive tarn tucked away just below the summit. Although it is rarely climbed, Cory Peak not difficult to reach and is accessed via a splendid section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The lack of interest in the peak is owed to the obscurity of the Scott Mountains as a whole and the fact that the range is overshadowed by the Trinity Alps
to the west and the proximity of Mounts Shasta
to the east. Indeed the route to the summit of Mount Eddy is one of the few locations where Cory Peak is easily viewed. Nonetheless, for those who make the effort, Cory Peak is an excellent alpine mountain easily accessed and offering an unbroken string of highlights en route to the summit.
Mount Shasta and Mount Eddy from the summit of Cory Peak
The Scott Mountains are one of the numerous unknown subranges of the Klamath Mountains. The range forms the divide between the headwaters of the Trinity and Scott Rivers, both being tributaries of the Klamath. Generally boasting a bright reddish or russet hue, a result of being composed of serpentine and peridotite rocks, the Scott Mountains are great representatives of the Klamath Mountains in terms of appearance, fauna, and recreational opportunities. The Scotts begin at China Mountain (the easternmost and highest point in the range), where the crest of the Trinity Divide makes a sharp turn to the west. The range extends westward from China Mountain for nearly 40 miles in a single, unbroken crest, terminating at Carter Meadow. At this point the crest swings southwesterly, and is renamed the Salmon Mountains, since it now forms the divide between the Trinity and Salmon Rivers. Within that 40 miles, the Scott Mountains boast over 30 lakes, the largest of which is 32 acre East Boulder Lake. Highway 3 bisects the range near its center. The portion of the Scotts that lies west of the highway is included within the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Though lacking the wilderness protections of the western half of the range, Cory Peak and the eastern Scotts are just as wild by virtue of their anonymity and the general lack of visitation. If it were not for the presence of the Pacific Crest Trail and the road up to Kangaroo Lake, the eastern half of the Scott Mountains would experience almost no visitation at all.
Kangaroo Lake, on the flanks of Cory Peak
Cory Peak presides over the midpoint of the eastern Scott Mountains, lying between Highway 3 and China Mountain. Possessing a distinguished shape, the peak is recognizable from throughout the region. From most vantages, it resembles a garrison cap (a hat worn by military type uniforms), having a generally pyramidal structure. The northern and eastern faces are the most rugged soaring nearly 2,000 feet above the lake basins far below. Although portions of the summit do have small trees, most of the peak is bare rock. Where trees do grow, they resemble krummholz, though this is due to poor quality of the soil rather than a true tree line. The serpentine and peridotite soils that compose the area around Cory Peak have contributed to an unusual array of plants. The section of the Scott Mountains immediately to the west of Cory Peak is designate a special botanical area by the Forest Service. In addition to the numerous wildflowers, the cliffs above Kangaroo Lake have an impressive display of the carnivorous Darlingtonia plant.
South China Mountain and Rock Fence Lake from Cory Peak
While lakes are plentiful in the Klamath Mountains, Cory Peak claims a particular abundance of them. Three named lakes are found in a trio of basins around the mountain, in addition to two other basins host unnamed lakes
. A sixth, massive basin is found on the east side and while it does contain Cabin Meadow Lake, the lake is on the farthest edge of the basin from Cory Peak and is more appropriately associated with Chilkoot Peak. Lastly, there is a small sliver of a lake just below the summit of Cory Peak.
Cory Peak Map
The Cory Peak area
Cory Peak and the Scott Mountains from Mount Eddy
Cory Peak can be approached from three directions. The easiest and most direct route begins at Kangaroo Lake and crosses the Scott Mountain crest, linking up with the Pacific Crest Trail. Details on that route are found here
. The two other options for reaching Cory Peak are to hike the PCT from the east or west. The shorter distance is from the west, where the PCT travels 9 miles from the trailhead at Parks Creek Pass. The approach from the west is the longer distance. It is 11 miles on the PCT trailhead on Highway 3 at Scott Mountain Summit.
Current ConditionsCurrent NOAA / National Weather Service Forecast for Cory Peak
Mount Eddy and Bull Lake
From Mount Shasta City, travel north on I-5. Take exit 751 for Edgewood. Turn left, passing under the freeway. Immediately turn right onto Stewart Springs Road for 0.5 until it becomes Old 99. Continue north on Old 99 for 7.0 miles. Turn left onto Gazelle-Callahan round and follow it for 16.5 miles, crossing over the crest of the mountains and entering the Scott River watershed. At the signed turn off for Kangaroo Lake, turn left onto Rail Creek road and stay on it for 7.0 miles until it ends at Kangaroo Lake. Park in the campground’s ample parking lot.
A small unnamed lake beneath the summit of Cory Peak
While Cory Peak is not in an official wilderness area, it is nonetheless, a wilderness. Consequently, normal wilderness rules and ethics should be abided by.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Mount Shasta Ranger Station
204 West Alma
Mt. Shasta, CA 96067
Klamath National Forest
1312 Fairlane Road
Yreka, CA 96097
Salmon & Scott River Ranger Districts
11263 N. Highway 3
Fort Jones, CA 96032
There is an excellent campground at the trailhead, on the shores of Kangaroo Lake. The large lake is located in a beautiful bowl with dramatic cliffs rising out of its southern edge. The lake is wheel-chair accessible to allow for handicapped individuals to be able to fish. The campground costs $15.00 per night.
-Klamath National Forest
-Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area