"Porcupine Peak" from "Castle Peak"
Overshadowed by its taller, massive neighbor Mt. Eddy, “Porcupine Peak” remains a fairly anonymous, officially unnamed peak that is nonetheless both prominently visible from all over the Mt. Shasta area and a gorgeous summit in its own right. “Porcupine Peak” is one of the taller monuments in the Eddy Range, the northern most section of the Klamath Mountains’ Trinity Divide. From the community of Mt. Shasta City, the peak has a conical appearance, rising like a gray stone pyramid from the crest of the mountains that extend south from Mt. Eddy. The peak is only a short distance along the horizon from the high summits of the Castle Crags Wilderness. In spite of its lack of official designation, the peak remains one of the finest summits in the Mt. Shasta region, rising nearly 8,000 feet and boasting a pair of excellent lakes around its base. “Porcupine Peak” takes its name from Porcupine Lake, which lies at the northern foot of the mountain.
"Porcupine Peak" from the PCT
Like the rest of the Klamath Mountains, the Eddy Range is composed of a concoction of rock types. Most of the range is red serpentine or peridotite, an ultramaphic rock that contains high levels of iron and thus takes on a rusty appearance. Mt. Eddy is a prime example of this rock type, as is much of the range to the south. “Porcupine Peak” is a significant departure from this rock type. The peak and surrounding area along the Eddy crest is composed of gray granite. The northern and eastern faces of the peak were scoured by glaciers, which left smooth gray granite. The southern face of the peak is unglaciated and has weathered to a darker colored granite that is further along the decomposition process the glaciated portions of the peak. Remnants of the glaciers remain in the form of Pocupine and Toad Lakes. Porcupine Lake rests at the immediate foot of “Porcupine Peak” while larger Toad Lake lies less the 0.5 miles away. In spite of their proximity, the lakes could not be more dissimilar. Porcupine Lake is in a gorgeous, granite bound cirque with “Porcupine Peak” looming above. Toad Lake is in a gentle, peridotite basin surrounded by mature forests and meadows, 300 feet lower than Porcupine Lake. Both lakes are excellent destinations.
"Porcupine Peak" from the PCT above Toad Lake
Like most of the peaks in the region, “Porcupine Peak” offers excellent views from its summit. Sights include the Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains, Mt. Eddy and the rest of the Eddy Range, the Castle Crags Wilderness area, Black Butte, Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak, Crater Peak and the rest of the Cascades extending north into Oregon. On a clear day, it is possible to see Mt. McLoughlin in Oregon’s Sky Lakes Wilderness. Variations of all of these vistas are also available from the PCT en route to “Porcupine Peak”.
The Eddy Range: "Porcupine Peak" (left) and Mount Eddy (right)
The Eddy Range extends 14 miles in a gentle arc along the northern stretch of the Trinity Divide. The range stretches north from Gumboot Saddle to China Mountain, where the Eddys merge into the Scott Mountains. The obvious highpoint, in both literal and figurative terms is Mt. Eddy itself. The massive bulk of this ultra prominence peak is visible from all over the Mt. Shasta region and is a constant presence from much of the high country of the Trinity Divide. Six of the ten lakes in the Eddy Range are found in the glacial cirques nestled beneath the summit. At 9,025 feet, it is the highest peak in the Eddy Range, the Trinity Divide, the Klamath Mountains, and interestingly enough, the highest peak in the United States, west of Interstate 5, which winds its way along the foot of Mt. Eddy.
Although Mt. Eddy is the obvious monarch of the Eddy Range and the only named summit, there are several other peaks. “Porcupine Peak” is among the highest and most prominent. The peak also boasts the best lakes in the range, aside from those found on Eddy itself. The area between “Porcupine Peak” and Mt. Eddy is the highest, most rugged part of the Eddy Range. Other prominent peaks are “Picayune Peak”, White Ridge and Bear Ridge. These high points are found in the southern portion of the Eddys, south of “Porcupine Peak”. The Pacific Crest Trail winds 16 spectacular miles along the entire crest of the range.
Mt. Shasta from the PCT, south of "Porcupine Peak"
Porcupine Peak is one of the taller and more prominent summits in the Trinity Divide. This region is the eastern most subrange of the Klamath Mountains. Sometimes called the Trinity Mountains, the Divide is not to be confused with the Trinity Alps, which lie directly to the west of the Divide and compose much of the views from the PCT between the Seven Lakes Basin and Mt. Eddy. Two rivers, the Klamath and the Trinity, as well as their various tributaries dominate the Klamath Mountains. The Trinity Alps provide the bulk of the water that flows in the Trinity River. On the other hand, while the Trinity Divide does provide some water to the river it is even more important sense it forms the divide between the Trinity River’s watershed and watershed of the Sacramento River. The waters on the west side of the range ultimately find there way to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Klamath River while the waters on the east side reach the sea through the Sacramento River at San Francisco Bay. The Trinity Divide is topped by Mt. Eddy, the highest peak in the Klamath Mountains.
"Porcupine Peak" from Gray Rock Lake
From the town of Mt. Shasta, head west on W. Lake, crossing over I-5. At the stop sign, turn left onto Old Stage Road. After 0.25 miles, veer right onto WA Barr Road. Continue south, crossing over the dam that impounds the Sacramento River and forms Lake Siskiyou. At the intersection with Castle Lake Road, stay straight. The road becomes Forest Road 26. Follow this road for nearly 12 miles. A signed fork indicates Gumboot Lake is 0.5 miles to the left. Continue to the right, climbing up the cirque that contains the Gumboot Lakes. The PCT Gumboot Trailhead is located at the summit with a good parking lot.
"Porcupine Peak" looms above Porcupine Lake
A permit is required for campfires.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Mount Shasta Ranger Station
204 West Alma
Mt. Shasta, CA 96067
Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the area. The nearest campground is four miles west of the bridge, on the eastern end of Gumboot Lake. A large campground is located on the southwest shore of Lake Siskiyou, eight miles east of the bridge.
Good campgrounds are found around Porcupine Lake and Toad Lake. Campsites with great views are also found along the PCT north and south of "Porcupine Peak", though these are remarkably less attractive than the lakeside sites, primarily because of lack of water.
When To Go
The Trinity Divide is often buried in snow until mid-June. The hiking season generally lasts from then until October. The road to Gumboot Saddle is not plowed and particularly treacherous in winter. Access is difficult before the temperatures increase.
-Shasta-Trinity National Forest