PLUTO’S CAVE is classified as a Lava Tube, a bit different from the spiky (limestone stalagtite/stalagmite) cavernous ones you might think of. But this one is pretty long, taking 30-45 minutes to walk all the way to the back of it. The cave opens up in areas that are 40ft tall and over 30ft wide in places. If it were completely flat on the bottom you could literally drive a semi-truck through it in places. It’s impressive and worth the journey. A really good add-on to this trip is a trip up to Herd Peak, the top of a mountain (fire lookout) with an incredible view of the entire area (especially Mount Shasta). https://kellysmithcards.com/herd-peak-lookout/
THINGS TO KNOW:
- It takes a short ¾ mi. hike to get out to the cave from the parking lot.
- Year Round Attraction (even at night). So long as there isn’t too much snow on the ground preventing you from getting there, you can always go into the cave. Even at night, if you have enough light.
- Keeping the Lights “ON”:
- If you don’t plan on going in very far, a simple flashlight will do or even an I-phone/android cell phone with a flashlight feature.Just keep a tight grip on the phone. You don’t want to drop it.
- If you plan to go pretty far into it, this cave can get very very darrrrrrk, as in pitch black (as in, no light once you go in a far distance). Having sufficient lighting is very important. I highly recommend a headlamp and a backup flashlight. I always go into a cave with 2 sources of light. I say to have 2 just in case (1 – you drop your flash light, or 2-if the batteries run out). You can get a really good headlamp at The 5th Season (Mount Shasta), or get an inexpensive one at Walmart (in Yreka). Or pick one up beforehand at any outdoor store.
- Once you go further into the cave, it gets really rocky. Watch your step, go slow, and I recommend going with other people (just in case you twist an ankle).
- The Wild Kingdom: Animals
- There are Harmless (not going to hurt you) bats inside the cave. You might hear some weird squeaking noises really far back into the cave. Those are bats & don’t worry about them. It scared me for a sec when I saw something moving in the air, but was very quickly relieved to find it was only a bat.
- If it’s really hot outside, there’s risk of a snake being inside any cave. Sounds scary, but if you watch your step, listen for noises (rattles), and keep your distance, you should be okay.
- Parking Lot for the hiking trailhead GPS Coordinates: 41.570768, -122.279102.
- PLUTO’S CAVE: 41.568173, -122.282107
- STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS:
- From Mount Shasta,CA
- Travel Northbound on Interstate 5 (approximately 6.9 Miles)
- Take the US-97 exit toward Central Weed/Klamath Falls
- Turn right onto US-97 N/S Weed Blvd (proceed 12.4 Miles)
- Turn left on Road A12 (proceed 3.2 Miles)
- Turn left on Road 43N30 (proceed .2 miles to the trailhead)
- From Mount Shasta,CA
- Map of the general area from Highway 97:
- Map (closeup): http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5405053.pdf
When I’m adventuring, I always like to find some food close to the trail. In this case Weed, CA is the closest place to go. Here’s where I eat when I’m driving through the area.
- Indian Food: Glassy Junction Restaurant – 1846 Shastina Dr, Weed, CA 96094 – (530) 938-1500
- The whole area around it looks like a truck stop, but don’t let this fool you. This nice little restaurant is a gem. I’d call it one of the best Indian restaurants in the north state.
- Asian BBQ: Asian American BBQ – 10 N Weed Blvd, Weed, CA 96094 – (530) 938-9967 . This place is a little hole in the wall restaurant with good bbq, PHO (Vietnamese), & Thai food.
- Brewery: Weed Brewing – http://www.weedales.com -360 College Ave, Weed, CA 96094 – (530) 938-2394 . This is a cool brewery that used to be an old dairy. The beer is pretty good too, especially after some nice adventuring. It’s a little off the map so you’ll most likely just see locals here.