Lassen Peak is a dome volcano, the southernmost in the
Cascade range. Together with Mount Shasta which lies to the north, Lassen
Peak (also known as Mount Lassen) shapes the skyline of inland Northern
California. It has last erupted in 1914-1915 followed by some minor
volcanic activity in 1921. It was officially declared asleep in 1921.
The trail to the top is 5 miles round trip but despite the short distance
the elevation gain of about 2000 feet makes this hike to be rated as
moderate to strenous in difficulty. The trail starts from the park road
(there is a parking lot at the start of the trail). At first the path
winds through wooded area but pretty quick the vegetation is gone and
you're left to enduring the strong winds blowing from the west. It's a good
idea to bring a jacket. The trail is quite popular when conditions allow.
A round trip takes between 2 and 4 hours.
View from Lassen Peak
This picture wasn't taken from the Lassen Peak's summit
but from the trail to the summit. It shows the park road (and the parking
lot at the head of the trail) and one of the many lakes of Lassen National
Park. Once you reach the summit you can hike around it and see the remains
of the last eruption of Lassen Peak, which took place in 1914. Much of the
chunky rocks at the top were pushed out at the time of the eruption. By
hiking around the summit you can also enjoy nice views of the park and of
the mountain ranges that surround the park. But don't forget to bring a
jacket, it's very windy at the top.
Bumpass Hell Trail
Seeing a picture of Bumpass Hell was what made me decide
to come to Lassen in the first place (unfortunately my picture didn't come
out that well, but that's because I followed the instructions and kept to
the path; the earth is hot and steaming around there). Bumpass Hell is the
largest area containing geothermal features in Lassen Volcanic National
Park. It takes its name from an unfortunate gentleman who discovered the
place and lost a leg there by falling into a hot mudpot.
The trail to Bumpass Hell is quite easy. It's 3 miles round trip and it
doesn't change much in elevation. It's closed in the winter due to snow and
even in the summer some patches of snow remain. The active area can be
seen from some distance away. The sulphury smell will also attack before
you reach the boardwalk that takes you close to the thermal area. Keep to
the boardwalk and take some time exploring the steaming fumaroles and
mudpots. The blue color of the springs makes for some beautiful photos.
Bumpass Hell Mudpots
The image shows a closer shot of the Bumpass Hell mudpots.
The hydrotermal activity is the result of water getting far underground to
a chamber of hot magma, where it gets heated up, and then coming back to the
surface. This process results into bubbling mudpots, steaming fumaroles and
boiling springs. There is a boardwalk going around Bumpass Hell. For your
safety it is advised that you keep to the boardwalk.
The Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park is a
700-foot-high volcanic cone. Now dormant, the cone was formed in two
eruptions of ash and volcanic cinders in the 1650s, as indicated by recent
geologic studies of the volcano. The cone was built to a height of 800 feet
above the surrounding area and spread ash over 30 square miles around it.
The black and charred-looking Cinder Cone is bare of any sort of life and
together with the surrounding lava flows and ash deposits make for an
interesting sight, a lesson about how volcanic activity can change an area.
Cinder Cone Trail
The Cinder Cone Trail is another worthy hike at Lassen.
The trail is 4 miles long and starts from the Butte Lake Campground
located at the far northeast corner of the park. To get there we had to
drive out of the park and back in on a dirt road. The first 2 miles of the
hike are flat, going through forest area but the last half mile includes an
fairly steep 800 feet ascension of the cone itself. This last half mile is
not the most pleasant part of the hike, since the cone is made of pure
gravel and you'll be making one step forward followed by two involuntary
steps back. But seeing the bare volcanic landscape is worth the effort.
The Painted Dunes can be seen from the top of the Cinder
Cone. The pastel colors are very beautiful (my pictures doesn't show them
at their best as it was taken at a very sunny moment of the day). The
colors are formed by oxidation of the cinder rocks and ash that fell from
volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately the Painted Dunes are off limits to
hikers but you can admire them from far away.
Manzanita Lake is located close to the NW entrance of the
park. It's a nice place to rest by the water, or to take a leasurely stroll
around the lake for some great views of Lassen peak (like the one in the
picture which shows the lake with Lassen Peak in the background). Manzanita
lake is surrounded by willows, mountain alders and many other types of
trees which I couldn't recognize. When we took our stroll we ran into a
herd of deer; there were about ten of them. In addition to the visual
delights Manzanita Lake provides good fishing. One of the Lassen
campgrounds is located here.
Kings Creek Falls
The get to the Kings Creek Falls one has to hike the three
miles round-trip trail which starts from the main road at the Kings Creek
parking area. The trail goes through the forest and becomes parallel to the
Kings Creek very early in the hike. You'll encounter a series of small
cascades which end with the 50 feet high Kings Creek Fall.
Sulphur Works is one of the sites of Lassen which is right
next to the main road through the park so to get there you'll only have to
park the car and walk for a very short distance. What you'll see is a cloud
of steam. This hydrothermal area is believed to be part of the vent system
that created Mount Temaha. The distinctive smell of rotten egg is due to the
hydrogen sulphite gas.