Mt. Shasta is unique in the Cascade mountain range due to its solitary location. While the other peaks in the range are surrounded by foothills (which in many places, including Portugal, would count as mountains themselves), Mt. Shasta stands alone on a plain, accompanied only by the cinder and lava cones birthed from the same source. There is bumpy topography to the west and south (and a small line of cones strung out to the east), but the land immediately surrounding the base of this vast volcano is flat as can be. As a result, the peak of the mountain is a full 3,050 meters (10,000 feet) higher than its surroundings, and can be seen from 240 kilometers (150 miles) away.
NASA’s Earth Observatory says of the above image:
Mount Shasta in northern California is among the largest and most active (over the past 4,000 years) of the volcanoes in the Cascades. The summit peak stands at an elevation of 4,317 meters (14,160 feet) above sea level, and is formed by the Hotlum cone—the location of the most recently recorded volcanic activity (in 1786). Shasta’s summit is high enough to retain snow cover throughout the year, and several small glaciers are present along the upper slopes.
Immediately to the west of the summit peak (but still on the upper slopes of Shasta) lies the Shastina lava dome complex, reaching 3,758 meters (12,330 feet) above sea level. (Note that the image is rotated so that north is to the lower left.)
[Also note that if the Shastina lava dome were on its own, and not considered part of Mt. Shasta, it would be the fourth tallest mountain in the Cascade Range. — OE]
Two dark lava flows that originated from the Shastina complex and flowed downslope (toward the northwest) are visible in the lower center of this image. The flows contrast sharply with the surrounding vegetated lower slopes and the barren upper slopes of Shasta. The Black Butte lava dome complex forms another isolated hill on the lowermost slopes of Shasta, near the town of Weed, California.
Geologists have mapped prehistoric pyroclastic flow and mudflow deposits (or lahars) from Hotlum cone and the Shastina and Black Butte lava dome complexes to distances of 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the summit of Shasta. As Mount Shasta has erupted within the past 250 years and several communities are within this hazard radius, the U.S. Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory actively monitors the volcano for signs of activity.
I have a personal relationship with this mountain, after driving past it many times on family trips to southern California, and bicycling in its shadow during the 2009 Cycle Oregon. No matter how many times I see it, I’m still knocked out. It’s a magnificent mountain.
(Click the image to vulcanize. The enlarged photo does not have the text overlay.)