As someone that has hiked most of my life, I consider myself to be in pretty good shape when it comes to cardiovascular exercise. My hike up Kanaka Peak last spring did everything to challenge that idea though. This hike consists of 9 miles round trip through some of the beautiful backcountry of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The trail begins at the Peltier Bridge Campground and is 4.5 miles uphill to the summit. Once at the top you will have gained 1,100 feet of elevation. And trust me, your legs will be feeling it!
Starting at the campground, you will walk past the gate on the road leading up the backside of the campground. After walking up this road for 1.1 miles you will see the sign for the Kanaka Peak Trail on your left. Soon after turning onto the trail you’ll come to a small stream crossing. This is the first of a few streams along the way. The trail winds through a mixed conifer and black oak forest it’s entire length. Along the way, you’ll encounter several vista points where you can look back down on Whiskeytown Lake and out over the northern part of the valley. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen too. It’s not uncommon to see bald eagles, deer, black bear, or osprey while making the trek up to Kanaka Peak.
Towards the top of the trail, you will come to a series of switchbacks that take you final .5 mile or so to the summit. This part of the trail is the steepest and toughest for most people. But, once you pass this section you are at the top of the mountain and can relax and enjoy the amazing views. There is a bench that you can sit on that looks back towards Whiskeytown Lake and out across the northern valley and Mt. Lassen to the east. This is a good place to have a snack, down some water, and let your legs and lungs recover. It is often quite windy on the summit of Kanaka Peak, so it is a good idea to bring a sweater or jacket when making the trip. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots are a must on this trail as it is very rocky in parts.
Be sure to take your time when descending along the trail. It is easy to twist an ankle or knee if you are not careful. Follow the trail all the way back down to the road that you walked up to get to the trailhead. Once at the road continue down and to your right to return to the Peltier Bridge Campground and your vehicle. Completing this hike is quite the adventure and workout. I hope that if you are in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area that you will take the time to complete this fantastic out and back trail.
Starting at the Whiskeytown Visitor Center, drive south on Kennedy Memorial Drive towards Whiskeytown Dam. The road forks; take the left fork which becomes Paige Bar Road. Do not take the right fork over the dam. Turn right on Peltier Valley Road across from the Mt. Shasta Mine parking area. Continue down this gravel road until you cross the Peltier Valley Bridge. Once across the bridge, park your vehicle and begin hiking up the access road to begin the trail.
Note: Mountain bikes are also allowed on the Kanaka Peak Trail.