Hiking the PCT to Cement Bluff above Bluff Lake

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to Cement Bluff above Bluff Lake is an attractive outing in its own right, with gorgeous views of Mount Eddy, Mount Shasta, and the Trinity Alps. This post provides trailhead directions, a map, and a detailed trail description.

China Mountain from the Pacific Crest Trail. View north from the PCT shortly after leaving the Parks Creek Saddle trailhead.
China Mountain from the Pacific Crest Trail. View north from the PCT shortly after leaving the Parks Creek Saddle trailhead.

Most people come to Parks Creek Saddle to hike the far more popular route to the Deadfall Lakes and on up to Mount Eddy. If you’ve never done that hike, do it instead of Cement Bluff; however, if you want both solitude and beauty, and you’re ready for something different than Deadfall Lakes and Mount Eddy, you definitely need to hike to Cement Bluff.

Day Hiking Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions. Includes trails in other regions of Northern California: Castle Crags, Russian Wilderness, Marble Mountain Wilderness, Lava Beds National Monument, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Lassen National Forest, and the Redding area.This Hike Is in My Book…

See Hike 61 in my book Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions for even more details than I provide here. The book has 125 hikes in the northern part of Northern California, and it has several nearby hikes, including Deadfall Lakes and Mount Eddy (Hike 59), and Deadfall Meadows (Hike 60).

PCT to Cement Bluff Key Data

Distance: 10.4 miles round trip
Difficulty: moderate
Type: day hike or overnight
Elevation gain: 1100 feet
High point: 6900 feet
Season: June to October
Contact: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mount Shasta Ranger Station
Maps: USGS South China Mountain
Permits: no permit needed
Dogs: dogs allowed

Cement Bluff Trailhead Directions

Take the Edgewood exit off I-5 (Exit 751), a couple miles north of Weed. Go to the west side of the freeway and turn right. Go .3 mile and turn left onto Stewart Springs Road. Drive 4.0 miles on Stewart Springs Road to a major fork. Head right up paved Road 17 (Parks Creek Road) for another 9.3 miles to the spacious trailhead on the left at Parks Creek Saddle.

Parks Creek Saddle GPS coordinates:  N 41 20.574 W 122 32.254

Cement Bluff and Bluff Lake are reached by the Pacific Crest Trail, as shown on the map. High Camp Creek and High Camp Pass are also shown.
Cement Bluff and Bluff Lake are reached by the Pacific Crest Trail. Note: the map shows Trail 6W03 and Trail 6W22 leading from near High Camp Creek to High Camp Pass and beyond. I didn’t notice these trails crossing the Pacific Crest Trail, so I can’t vouch for what sort of shape they are in and if you can hike them. (Courtesy of Caltopo)

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to Cement Bluff

Cross Parks Creek Road and catch the Pacific Crest Trail. Quickly gain an expansive vista that includes the Trinity Alps to the west, a nascent Trinity River just to the south, and Mount Eddy and other Eddy Range summits to the west.

Walk 0.4 mile to the first view of High Camp Creek basin. Look west a long mile and spot Cement Bluff looming above Bluff Lake. It’s only a mile away, but the Pacific Crest Trail makes a long, undulating 4.5-mile arc around the basin to get you there.

Walk the 4.5 miles through an open forest of Jeffrey pine, western white pine, and Shasta red fir, noting the beautiful orange and buff colors on the metamorphic rocks that characterize this portion of the Klamath Mountains. Look for a saddle on the right at 1.1 miles that allows a good northward view of nearby China Mountain, the distant Shasta Valley, and the more distant Cascade volcanoes that stretch north of Mount Shasta into southern Oregon.

Reach a small creek at 3.3 miles and continue another 1.2 miles to a talus slope. This is the best spot to actually descend to Bluff Lake, if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, continue southerly and admire the views of Mount Eddy and Mount Shasta.

At 4.9 miles from the trailhead, leave the PCT and walk left 100 nearly level yards to the top of Cement Bluff, which is primarily calcite-based conglomerate. Bluff Lake lies just below, with South China Mountain to the north and Mount Eddy and Mount Shasta to the east.

Bluff Lake viewed from Cement Bluff. Cement Bluff is a short cross-country walk from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Bluff Lake viewed from Cement Bluff. Cement Bluff is a short cross-country walk from the Pacific Crest Trail that gives views not only of Bluff Lake, but also the surrounding metamorphic mountains of the Trinity Divide.

Bluff Lake

Bluff Lake is on private land and permission to visit could be revoked by the landowners. If you do visit, be aware that the water level drops later in summer. Backpacking? You’ll find several sites near the lake.

Note: be sure to head back to the talus slope mentioned above to head down to the lake. It’s steep and dangerous directly from Cement Bluff.

Hiking the PCT Beyond Cement Bluff to Bull Lake and Kangaroo Lake

You can continue northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail for another 3.5 miles to Bull Lake, which is the tail end of Hike 62 (Fen Trail to Bull Lake) in Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions. Another 3.6 miles beyond Bull Lake brings you to Kangaroo Lake, allowing you to arrange a car shuttle.

Nearby Hikes Described Here on Northern California Hiking Trails

This site has dozens of posts about hikes on Shasta-Trinity National Forest, including these that are nearby:

Caldwell Lakes
West Park Lakes

Also see my interview with Philip Kramer about his book on doing Northern California PCT section hikes.

My Youtube Video from Cement Bluff

My channel has dozens of videos of the best hikes in Northern California. Subscribe to my Youtube channel to get notifications of all new videos.

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