Sparkling blue mountain lakes, colorful wildflowers and — peek-a-boo — an edifying view of Mount Shasta.
For years, hiking friends have praised Mount Eddy. And, like the nearly unanimous response from most folks, my reply was, "Never heard of it. Where is it?"
Now I know.
Located west of Weed, Calif., Mount Eddy is tall but often overlooked. It doesn't stand out, because it's surrounded by other mountains nearly as tall and it's dwarfed by Mount Shasta. Still, at an elevation of 9,025 feet, Mount Eddy is the highest in the Klamath Mountains.
From its starting point along the Pacific Crest Trail west of Weed, hikers and backpackers have three choices. The shortest and easiest hike goes about three miles along the PCT to a junction with Lower and Middle Deadfall lakes. Middle Deadfall Lake, the largest and deepest of a series of lakes, is not to be missed. People can find a lakeside spot to rest, eat and swim before returning to the trailhead.
The second choice climbs another mile up the Mount Eddy Trail to Upper Deadfall Lake, a smaller but yet another beautiful lake. Like Lower Deadfall and Middle Deadfall, Upper Deadfall is seasonally vibrant with an array of wildflowers. No matter what distance, take along a flower book. At various elevations, the rainbow array includes asters, blue and yellow lupine, Indian paintbrush, scarlet gilia, red columbine, larkspur, yarrow, marigolds, corn lily, angelica, wild onion, buttercup and, in boggy areas near streams, the carnivorous pitcher plant.
The pleasant, gradually uphill hike to the lower and middle lakes go through occasional meadows and crosses streams. Before reaching timberline, the forest evolves from red and white fir and Jeffrey and Ponderosa pine to western white and foxtail pines.
From the lakes, reaching Eddy's summit requires a steady uphill effort. It's another 1,230 vertical feet from Upper Lake along a series of well designed and laid-out switchbacks.
The reward is more than worthwhile. Especially astonishing is the smack-dab-in-your-face view of Mount Shasta, which stays out of view until reaching the summit plateau. It's a peak experience. Farther off are Mount McLoughlin, Mount Lassen, the Trinity Alps and Castle Crags. Easy to overlook, literally and visually, is Black Butte, seemingly nestled in Shasta's protective shadow. The broad summit also feature remnants of a long-ago lookout, with scattered boards and smatterings of concrete foundations.
Climbing Eddy isn't a religious experience, but it is a spirited, edifying hike.
Lee Juillerat has been writing about outdoor adventures in Southern Oregon and elsewhere for more than 30 years. He is also a regular contributor to the outdoor-travel website High On Adventure at www.highonadventure.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-880-4139.