“An open trail leading to a cinder cone and views of wilderness and the snowy slopes of the Cascades.”
— QuinTCM TCM
Views · Wildflowers
The trailhead is located at the end of Merrill Cave Road at the parking area for Merrill Cave and Merrill Cave Trail
. The trailhead is marked by an obvious sign.
The trail to Whitney Butte is open and relatively flat. Bunchgrasses, wildflowers, sagebrushes, and some trees line the trail. In the first mile, the trail passes over the northwest branch of the Bearpaw Butte Lava Tube System. After passing over the collapsed tubes, the trail follows an old lava flow that remains to the west and south of the trail. This area is known as the Black Lava Flow Wilderness Area.
At about two miles, Mount Shasta, with its snow-covered slopes, comes into view. A little further along the trail comes to a fork. (Taking the trail heading north leads to an old dirt road that was one of the earliest roads that brought tourists into the monument. This road passes Fleener Chimneys
and moves along the top of Gillem Bluff.) Stay to the left of the fork to reach Whitney Butte. The trail continues along the north flank of Whitney Butte and wraps around Whitney Butte. Turning south, the trail ends at a massive lava flow called Callahan Flow.
It is possible to continue for about a mile or less along the trail, skirting the edge of the massive lava flow. However, the trail only connects to a dirt road at the edge of the monument. This dirt road only leads to more dirt roads and open wilderness.
It is possible to scale Whitney Butte and gain commanding views of the surrounding wilderness, as well as Mount Shasta and some of the other peaks of the Cascade Range. The best place to do it is near the end of the trail at a ponderosa pine tree. However, Whitney Butte is a cinder cone and cinder cones scar very easily. Tread lightly and try to find a path that has already been tread.
Take lots of water as none is available along the trail!
Flora & Fauna
Various bunchgrasses, wildflowers, sagebrushes, bitterbrushes, mountain mahogany, and western juniper.