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Mt. Shasta, California: Hiking Seven Lakes Basin via the PCT

Summary. Seven Lakes Basin is a 7.8 mile, out-and-back hike along the Pacific Coast Trail. This dog-friendly hike features seven alpine lakes and incredible views of the Shasta National Forest. The hike begins and ends along a ridge-line with almost all the 1,300 feet of elevation gain occurring half-way through the hike as you venture down to a lake and back to hike the ridge again. (Side note: It was hazy the day we hiked due to smoke coming in from the Tahoe area fires at the time).

Getting there. From central Mt. Shasta take W. Ream Avenue to W A Barr Road to Forest Route 26. The parking lot at the trial head is about 30 minutes from Lake Siskiyou.

About the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This 2,600+ mile trail runs from Mexico to Canada. The trail passes through 7 national parks and 25 national forests. Efforts to create the trail date all the way back to 1920 but the trail was not fully completed until 1993. The trail was more recently made famous by the best selling book, "Wild," which was later made into a movie staring Reese Witherspoon. Admittedly, reading the book did make me want to hike the PCT. Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, are collectively known as the Triple Crown of Hiking.

Closers on the PCT. The unfortunate reality of our times is that sections of the PCT are often closed due to fires and fire risk. Before hiking on any section, check with the Pacific Crest Trail Association for up-to-date information on closures.

What to Bring. This stretch of the PCT has very little shade. Bring lots of water, especially if you hike here in the summer months like we did. We ended up rationing to have enough for the dogs too (yikes!).

The Hike. Seven Lakes Basin is a 7.8 mile, out-and-back hike but you can easily add more mileage either at either end. This dog-friendly hike features seven alpine lakes and incredible views of the Shasta National Forest. The hike begins and ends along a ridgeline. In our opinion, the ridgeline is the most beautiful part of the hike.

Almost all the 1,300 feet of elevation gain of the hike occurs half-way through as you venture down to a lake and back up to hike the ridge again. Skip the lake detour if you want a more flat hike. As it follows the PCT, just keep following the train towards Castle Crags instead.

The PCT is active during the summer months. While remote, we did see several solo hikers (almost all women), that were clearly out hiking all or a significant portion of the trail.

As usual, Buster and Bella loved the hike.


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