Lassen Volcanic National Park  by Mike White

Lassen Volcanic National Park Guide Book

by Mike White (Wilderness Press)
Lassen Volcanic National Park  by Mike White
The last eight years since the fourth edition of this guide was published have seen significant changes within Lassen Volcanic National Park and its neighboring US Forest Service lands, some within the control of man and some without. As the 100-year anniversary of the park’s creation approaches in 2016, the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is up and running, and important trail projects have been or will be completed by the centennial, including restoration of the Lassen Peak Trail and improvements to the Kings Creek Falls Overlook. Additionally, the Volcano Adventure Camp is set to open in time for the anniversary; this new youth camping facility at the former site of Crags Campground will better facilitate the park’s Youth Camping Program. Many events are planned in 2016 to help commemorate Lassen Volcanic’s induction into the national park system.

© 2016 Mike White/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Lassen Volcanic National Park" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 111.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 111.

This relatively easy semiloop visits the most popular water destination in Thousand Lakes Wilderness, Lake Eiler, along with small and shallow Barrett Lake, and a host of even smaller and shallower ponds. Reaching the loop portion necessitates a nearly 2-mile approach that gains almost all of the little elevation that the whole route demands. Other than the open crossing of a lava flow early into the approach, the entire trip passes through a light forest of Jeffrey, lodgepole, and western white pines, and red and white firs. Visitors will find picturesque Lake Eiler, back-dropped by volcanic Freaner Peak, to offer the best campsites and scenery, but also the greatest chance of encountering company. Lake Eiler is deep enough and large enough to offer decent swimming and fishing. Barrett Lake, although not nearly as large or scenic, would be a better choice for quieter camping. For even more solitude opportunities, Box Lake in the interior of the loop may easily be reached cross-country from any point along the trail, along with several of the other smaller “thousand lakes.”
Old Station, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
This short loop trail passes a pair of shallow lakes quite suitable for a midsummer swim, and then follows a short stretch of lovely Butte Creek before returning along the north shore of Butte Lake. The Butte Lake Picnic Area near the trailhead provides a nice setting for a picnic lunch before or after the hike. Most of the day users and campers from the nearby campground go to Bathtub Lake and no farther, which means you’ll likely have some solitude and serenity on the remainder of the loop.
Old Station, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
Gentle terrain and a host of lakes make this loop trip from the Hay Meadow Trailhead a pleasant experience. Similar to just about anywhere in Caribou Wilderness, this area is not heavily used, despite the high number of desirable places to camp, fish, and swim, and the relative ease of getting around. Following the loop in a clockwise direction, as described here, avoids the only steep section on the circuit, a quarter-mile stretch of trail below Hidden Lakes. If you have extra time, take one of the connecting trails to additional lakes farther north in the wilderness.
Westwood, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
The Bizz Johnson Trail follows the historic route of the Fernley Lassen Railroad between the communities of Susanville and Westwood. The railroad was built in 1914 primarily to carry logs from a mill in Westwood to Fernley, Nevada, where lumber products were then shipped around the country and also to foreign markets. The mill’s eventual decline in 1956 signaled the end of the railroad. In 1978, Southern Pacific Railroad abandoned the line, and eventually, 30 miles of the route was converted to recreational trail. The trail is named for Harold T. “Bizz” Johnson, a California congressman who championed the cause of the trail in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Susanville, CA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.5
This trip is for those who consider the journey as important as the destination. Blue Lake won’t knock anyone’s socks off for beauty; it has a fairly standard look for a Lassen lake, with a shoreline rimmed by generic trees. To further discourage hikers, the first 2 miles of trail requires a continuous, moderate climb from the Spencer Meadow Trailhead. From there, the grade is fairly gentle and the trail lightly used. Solitude should be expected along the trail and at the lake, which offers a couple of primitive campsites for interested backpackers.
Chester, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.4
Similar to the trail to Bumpass Hell, this trip leads to one of the most active hydrothermal areas of the park, where heat and water meet below ground to emerge from the earth’s surface in a variety of interesting manifestations. Unlike Bumpass Hell, however, the trail to Boiling Springs Lake has one principal advantage— far fewer tourists, due to a location in a more remote part of Lassen Volcanic, accessed via a sometimes steep gravel road. Despite its remote location, don’t expect to be totally alone, as vacationers from the Drakesbad Guest Ranch frequent the area’s trails. Another advantage of Boiling Springs Lake is its lower elevation, which results in warmer temperatures and a much earlier hiking season. Also, the meadows of Warner Valley are blessed with many more species of wildflowers.
Chester, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
A stiff, 3.5-mile climb (which may feel more like 5 miles) leads to one of Lassen Volcanic’s more dramatic vistas, from the summit of 9,235-foot Brokeoff Mountain, so named for the ruggedly sheer north face of the peak. Not only will successful summiteers enjoy a superb view of Lassen Peak; this is also the best vantage point for examining the remnants of ancient Mt. Tehama’s caldera. The scenery extends to the southern Cascades (including Mt. Shasta), northern Sierra, Sacramento Valley, and the coastal mountain ranges. Also notable is the trail itself, which travels through serene forest, passes by flower-covered meadows, visits dancing streams, and offers a short side excursion to the quiet surroundings of shallow Forest Lake.
Mineral, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
At 10,457 feet, Lassen Peak has the premier views in the park. However, the vistas from Lassen Volcanic’s second highest summit are nearly as wonderful. Where Brokeo? Mountain wins over Lassen Peak in winter is the distance required to reach those respective views: the trip to the top of Lassen is 4 miles longer, with an additional elevation gain of 1,200 feet. Peak baggers will marvel at the expansive vista from Brokeo? Mountain’s wee summit, including a vast area of the surrounding terrain, as well as nearby park landmarks, including Lassen Peak and some of the other remnants of ancient Mount Tehama.
Mineral, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Although it was designed primarily as a route for mountain bikers, hikers will also enjoy this short loop around a headwaters section of tumbling Bucks Creek. The gently graded trail passes through stands of thick forest and pockets of flower-filled meadows on a 4.3-mile circuit between the southeast arm of Bucks Lake and Bucks Summit. Although most of the route follows single-track or closed dirt road, to complete the loop, hikers will have to walk a 0.4-mile stretch of Bucks Lake Road immediately below Bucks Summit.
Quincy, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.3
Generally, this is an easy, 5-mile, lakeside stroll through shady forest. However, when snowmelt swells the feeder streams emptying into Bucks Lake, a couple of fords can be quite treacherous—check with the Forest Service for current stream conditions in early season. Even later in the summer, you may want to pack a pair of sandals or old tennis shoes for the fords of Mill Creek and Right Hand Branch Mill Creek. Aside from these two potential difficulties, the trail is a pleasant walk along the quiet, east side of Bucks Lake, near the boundary of Bucks Lake Wilderness, with plenty of fine views of the lake backdropped by forested hillsides.
Quincy, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Hermits will love this trail, as few other than Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers favor this route. Generally, you will only see other humans on boats when you’re hiking the 3-mile stretch of trail along the northeast shore of Bucks Lake. In spite of this loop’s lack of popularity, it has much to offer, including scenic lakes, cascading streams, wildflower-filled meadows, shady forests, wide-ranging views, and side trips to Three Lakes and Spanish Peak. Established campsites are few and far between, requiring a bit of logistical planning as to where to camp.
Quincy, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 18
Great views from the site of a former fire lookout are the chief rewards of this trip along a section of the storied Pacific Crest Trail. The journey is a contrast in environments, as the first half climbs through mostly open and dry, shrub-covered terrain, while the second half ascends slopes of shady forest and verdant meadows. The final 0.4 mile follows the route of the abandoned road that once served the fire lookout atop Spanish Peak, where you’ll have unobstructed views to the north, east, and south.
Quincy, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.4
With a wide array of steaming fumaroles, gurgling mud pots, and boiling hot springs, the 16-acre hydrothermal site known as Bumpass Hell is one of Lassen Volcanic’s more interesting areas, a fact evidenced by the packed parking lot between the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. The largest of the park’s hydrothermal areas, Bumpass Hell is the result of fissures that connect to volcanic heat as far as 3 miles beneath the earth’s crust. Interpretive signs along a boardwalk explain the interesting hydrothermal activity. But that activity is not the only highlight of the trail, which includes excellent views of Lake Helen, Lassen Peak, and additional summits across the deep cleft of Little Hot Springs Valley. Due to the high elevation and aspect of the trail from the parking area to Bumpass Hell, snowfields tend to linger here well into summer. Although the Park Service recommends decent footwear and hiking poles when snow is present, tourists wearing flip-flops routinely make the journey to Bumpass Hell and back without any severe misfortune.
Mineral, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This fine loop hits most of the highlights of McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: the watery drama of Burney Falls, the beauty of Lake Britton, the shady riparian habitat along Burney Creek, and the more arid environment along the rim of the creek’s canyon.
Burney, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
The Cameron Meadow- Grassy Creek loop, with a profusion of showy wildflowers and lush plants filling the meadow and lining the banks of the creek, is a delight for botanists. July is the best month to observe the spectacular wildflower display, but be prepared for the hordes of mosquitoes that accompany the peak of flower season. Along with the vegetation, the loop visits two of the more magnificent lakes in the Lassen backcountry, Horseshoe and Snag, offering plenty of opportunities to camp, swim, fish, or simply enjoy the scenery.
Chester, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
The journey to the Chaos Crags is a more challenging route for intermediate and advanced snowshoers (the Park Service does not recommend this route for skiers). Climbing through a light forest requiring a bit of navigation, the journey ultimately leads out into more open terrain and onto a ridge with a marvelous, up-close view of the rugged Chaos Crags.
Old Station, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
The route to the Chaos Jumbles is a short jaunt for anyone ready to move beyond the easier trips around Manzanita and Re?ection Lakes. The moderate route does require a modicum of navigation away from the security of the Main Park Road, but the terrain is open, and getting around should be manageable for most recreationists. The reward for the minimal e?ort is a ?ne view of the surrounding park landmarks from the mostly open terrain of the Chaos Jumbles.
Old Station, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
As its name suggests, many of the features of Lassen Volcanic National Park are centered on the geologic processes of volcanism. The Cinder Cone Nature Trail celebrates this theme, with stark black chunks of lava, volcanic bombs, vast cinder and ash fields, and lava-scorched tree snags providing the setting for the primary feature of the trail, the 700-foot Cinder Cone. The self-guided trail—described in a brochure available at the trailhead—leads through a devastated landscape of recent volcanic activity. The 14 numbered posts on the route are keyed to information in the brochure about the geologic, cultural, and natural history of the area. Initially, the path, which wanders through a pine forest to the edge of a massive lava flow, follows in the footsteps of early pioneers on the Nobles Emigrant Trail. Then it leaves the pioneer route to attack the steep slopes on the way to Cinder Cone’s rim and a panoramic view of the surrounding terrain and nearby features such as Fantastic Lava Beds, Painted Dunes, and Snag and Butte lakes. Fittingly, the park’s most prominent feature, Lassen Peak, dominates the view.
Old Station, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
This nearly 11-mile loop trip samples a number of what are considered to be some of the park’s best lakes—Little Bear, Big Bear, Silver, Feather, Lower Twin, Upper Twin, and Echo. Strong hikers can complete the loop as a day hike, but backpackers will have the opportunity to spend more time exploring the lakes and visiting far-?ung destinations by way of several connecting trails. Echo is the only lake with a camping ban, but backpackers have plenty of other sites to choose from in the mostly forested backcountry. The circuit also o?ers occasional views of Lassen, Reading, and Prospect Peaks. The journey through the Cluster Lakes travels through an area that was burned in the 2012 Reading Fire. Backpackers should plan on camping at Twin Lakes, which are outside of the ?re zone.
Mineral, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.8
This trip travels to two very different lakes. The first is the geologically interesting Cold Boiling Lake, where super-heated gases deep underground cool considerably on an upward journey before bubbling into the air at the shallow lake’s surface. The second stop, Crumbaugh Lake, reposes regally in a meadow-rimmed basin that puts on one of the park’s best midsummer wildflower displays. While quite a few tourists find their way to Cold Boiling Lake, far fewer continue to Crumbaugh Lake, despite the relatively short distance. Therefore, visitors to Crumbaugh Lake can expect some solitude to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Mineral, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4